Mini will launch this high-performance John Cooper Works (JCW) version of the Mini Countryman at the Geneva motor show in March. A prototype Mini Countryman JCW, seen here in these official pictures for the first time, is currently undergoing final evaluation tests in wintery conditions in Austria.
Officially, Mini is remaining coy on exact technical specifications of the model ahead of its Geneva motor show reveal. But Autocar insiders have hinted that the JCW is in line for a significant power hike over the Mini Countryman Cooper S it is based on, with power from its turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine up from 177bhp to 215bhp.
There’s no word on an increase in torque or any hint at improved performance figures, but the power hike would suggest the Countryman JCW should be able to crack 0-62mph in around 7.0sec. The Cooper S’s official 0-62mph figure is 7.6sec.
The JCW will use sports suspension derived the Cooper S, insiders have confirmed. It will sit 10mm lower than the Cooper S with a ride height of 139mm. The diameter of the front anti-roll bar is up to 23mm and the rear is increased to 17mm.
The rear brakes are also in line for an upgrade, with 296mm in diameter rear discs used instead of the 280mm ones found on the Cooper S.
The prototype is still sporting a light disguise, but it is clear the Countryman JCW is to get similar muscular styling upgrades as seen on JCW versions of other models in the Mini line-up. These include a different grille and front bumper, flared wheel arches and a new rear bumper and pseudo diffuser with integrated dual exhausts.
The Countryman JCW will give Mini a platform to better promote its involvement in the World Rally Championship, a series it competes in with a model known simply as Mini John Cooper Works WRC. It is not known whether Prodrive, the British team which runs Mini’s WRC effort, was involved in the development of the road car, but Prodrive is known to be developing its own high-performance kit for road-going Cooper S versions of the Countryman.
The Countryman JCW had originally been conceived as a model Mini would use to rival the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but Mini insiders now insist the Golf is not the model the car has in its sights.
After its Geneva motor show reveal in the spring, the Countryman JCW is tipped to go into production alongside its more humble siblings in Graz, Austria by May. It should reach UK showrooms by summer 2012.
Mark Tisshaw and Greg Kable