Most potent Countryman yet is also shaping up to be the best in the range

Our Verdict

Mini John Cooper Works
Mini's John Cooper Works auto is less highly strung than before but quicker than ever

Faster and more rounded than any ‘Works’ Mini before it. Still a committed prospect – to buy and to use – but rewarding to drive

13 December 2011

What is it?

A prototype version of the forthcoming Mini Countryman John Cooper Works, a car we’ll get to see in final production form at the Geneva motor show in March.

There’s no official word on how much power has been liberated from the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, but insiders have suggested a figure of 215bhp is likely, some 38bhp more than the Cooper S the JCW is based one.

The car we got a brief drive in on some wintery roads in the Austrian Alps was 85 per cent representative of the car that will reach the UK next autumn as the fastest, most powerful and most expensive model in Mini’s baby SUV line-up.

What’s it like?

Considering this isn’t quite the finished article, it’s a remarkably impressive machine. JCW Minis have always been noted for having more power than the chassis can actually handle and torque steering their way beyond reasonable usability, but there are no such problems with this Countryman JCW as power is sent to all four wheels.

There’s therefore a level of traction not normally associated with JCW models, and a nice even spacing of the gears and a linear power delivery make it an easy – and enjoyable – experience to build up some decent pace in. And when you have to lift off you’re met with the familiar JCW-style cracks and pops coming from the exhaust.

Pressing the Sport button enhances things further: the throttle response becomes keener and greater response is also afforded through the steering wheel.

Mini has stuck with the sports suspension from the Cooper S for the JCW, albeit with revised spring and damper rates and a 10mm drop in ride height to 139mm. Thicker anti-roll bars are fitted front and back, too – 22mm at the front and 17mm at the rear, both 1mm thicker than on the Cooper S.

The Countryman has never been a big roller in corners despite its chunky proportions, and it’s the same to report with the JCW. It feels poised and keenly changed direction on the winding Alpine roads we tested it on.

The ride quality was another highlight of the car, feeling not too firm but with enough feedback for you to realise it’s a keener Countryman than its siblings. Certainly, there is not the usual firmness to the set-up than seen in other Mini JCWs. While early signs of the ride quality are impressive, our car was fitted with steel rims equipped with winter tyres – UK models will get 17in alloys and summer rubber as standard.

Should I buy one?

The controversial looks of the Countryman may never win over some, but certainly in this JCW model an extra level of enthusiast appeal to the big Mini has been added.

Even after this early drive, it’s clear to see the Countryman has potential in JCW guise. You feel a command of the road driving this Countryman that you don’t experience in the rest of the range, and the suspension changes have resulted in a much more composed dynamic machine. We await a fuller drive with interest.

Mini Countryman JCW

Price: £30k (est); Top speed: TBC; 0-62mph: 7.0sec (est); Economy: TBC; CO2: TBC; Kerb weight: 1455kg (est); Engine: 4cyl, 1598cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 215bhp (est); Torque: 210lb ft (est); Gearbox: 6spd manual

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Comments
14

13 December 2011

Is it 1st April?

13 December 2011

I can't think of what car the Countryman JCW will be comparable to.

13 December 2011

Treading barefoot on a bit of Lego?

13 December 2011

[quote Autocar]

What is it?


A prototype version of the forthcoming Mini Countryman John Cooper Works, a car we’ll get to see in final production form at the Geneva motor show in March.


There’s no official word on how much power has been liberated from the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, but insiders have suggested a figure of 215bhp is likely, some 38bhp more than the Cooper S the JCW is based one.


The car we got a brief drive in on some wintery roads in the Austrian Alps was ...Read the full article

[/quote] I'd rather have a new BMW 120D thanks. The BMW is ugly, but not in the same class as the pumped up Maxi Mini.

13 December 2011

[quote rovamota]

Is it 1st April?

[/quote]

I recall reading about the £30K Aston Cygnet and thinking it was insane....

This car should be about £16K, then i'd take it seriously.

13 December 2011

The BINI MAXI MAX!

13 December 2011

THIRTY! THOUSAND! POUNDS! Zero-to-60 in SEVEN seconds! Makes a Golf R seem like a bargain and an Audi S3 a giveaway.

14 December 2011

Mini Mule, very appropriate name...

14 December 2011

[quote 6th.replicant]THIRTY! THOUSAND! POUNDS! Zero-to-60 in SEVEN seconds![/quote] well, on the plus side, it does seem cheap next to an evoque!!!

14 December 2011

Cant work this car out . Surely a top of the range 170ps diesel Yeti would be much more sensible . Does pretty much all this can for much less .

But then again Im not some 40 something school running yummy mummy .

Well if it sells why not make it .

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