Mini couldn't confirm any details on when we might see the JCW, but the advanced stage of testing it's at, and the fact we've seen the standard car, suggests we won't have to wait long to see the JCW range-topper. When it arrives, a price of around £32,000 seems likely; the next-highest spec version is the SD All4, which costs £29,565.
The standard Countryman is based on the same UKL1 architecture as the recently launched Clubman, which is said to be a huge step forward not only in terms of refinement, but also in terms of the range of powertrains it can accommodate.
The new Countryman is set to be considerably larger and more spacious than the current car. A stretch of around 150mm takes the Countryman's overall length to just over 4.25m, meaning available boot space grows from the current 450 to 470 litres. It's also almost 80mm wider and the wheelbase has grown by at least 100mm, but the really big difference is the height - the new Countryman is considerably taller than the Clubman, with a more upright seating position and more spacious interior.
Variable damper control will enable the chassis settings to be adjusted, and a raised ride height should enable moderate off-roading, although we suspect it'll still be too low to be classed as a proper off-roader.
Engine and transmission
Codenamed F60, the new Countryman will also be offered with the same electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system as the BMW X1, although front-wheel drive will be the standard layout.
A plug-in hybrid will join the Countryman's engine line-up next year, using an electric motor mounted within the independent Z-axle to drive the rear wheels. Autocar understands a range of 25 miles will be possible on pure-electric power. A 0-62mph time of 6.9sec is claimed for this variant.