Mini’s latest motorsport model is based on the latest Countryman, and will get its first outing in next year’s Dakar Rally
Jimi Beckwith
17 November 2016

The Mini John Cooper Works Rally racer has been revealed; the brand’s latest 340bhp, 590lb ft Dakar rally challenger, developed in collaboration with motorsport specialist and Mini motorsport partner, X-raid.

Get your first look at the new Countryman JCW here

The Countryman-based Mini JCW Rally is powered by BMW’s turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine, and has a top speed of 114mph. It’ll rarely touch this, though, given the intensity of its intended terrains.

Underneath, the new Countryman’s styling has been placed on top of a specially-made FIA-approved tubular steel frame chassis, which has been specifically developed for competitive driving over tough terrains.

The Countryman body has been profoundly altered though; the bonnet was made lower for better visibility from the cabin, while the body has been widened, and a vent added on each side in front of the doors. The body is made of Kevlar and carbonfibre.

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Mini claims that improvements have been made in several key areas, particularly in moving the car’s centre of gravity lower by moving the third spare wheel from inside the boot to underneath the car. The top speed and aerodynamics have also been improved, and the car has been rigorously tested in an air tunnel. Unsurprisingly, the fuel economy of the car has improved due to the reduced drag.

Off-road prowess is ensured with 250mm of wheel travel and greatly increased ground clearance; 320mm steel disc brakes – with air and water-cooled rear callipers - increase stopping power over the road car, too.

The JCW Rally will make its competitive debut at the Dakar Rally next year, and is currently going through final testing procedures ahead of that. Mini says that technical feedback from the programme could be implemented on road cars, but don’t expect a special-edition rugged countryman inspired by the JCW Rally in your local dealership any time soon. 

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Our Verdict

Mini Countryman

The Mini Countryman represents the biggest stretch yet for Mini – for the car and the brand

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week