First Drive: The Mini Countryman John Cooper Works is a sporty addition to the compact SUV class

What is it?

Mini Countryman
The rear of the Countryman is upright and distinctive

But even though Mini is launching its regular new Countryman with a range of electric versions for the first time, it’s not forgetting about petrol just yet, as a new JCW of its stylish new crossover is soon launching. But is it worth considering?

What’s new?

Mini Countryman
The rear lights are distinctive in design

As for the JCW, well it gets suitably sportier styling to go with its extra performance. There’s lots of blacked-out styling that goes well with John Cooper Works’ trademark red colours, while the grille gets a cool new chequered-flag pattern.

What’s under the bonnet?

Mini Countryman
The exhaust pipes on the JCW hint towards the performance on offer

The JCW also comes as standard with All4 four-wheel-drive, with a seven-speed automatic gearbox being used – soon there will be no option for a Mini with a manual transmission. In terms of running costs, Mini claims around 35mpg, with CO2 emissions of 177-188g/km.

If you want a petrol Countryman but don’t need the JCW’s pace, it’s also available with a 168bhp 1.5-litre and 215bhp 2.0-litre engines.

What’s it like to drive?

Mini Countryman
The Countryman remains Mini’s largest vehicle

On a windier road, it’s more enjoyable to drive than many of its rivals, with a sharp turn-in and feeling flat through the corners. It’s by no means a hot hatch, however. One aspect that lets the side is the overly firm – the large 20-inch alloy wheels on our test car doing it no favours.

How does it look?

Mini Countryman
The new Countryman has grown compared with its predecessor

The rear end of the Countryman isn’t quite so smart, though, as it’s this area that shows the sheer growth of this SUV, and almost makes it look a bit bloated. We’re also not a fan of the ‘ John Cooper Works All4’ emblem just behind the C-pillar. It feels like a styling element that this SUV didn’t need.

What’s it like inside?

Mini Countryman
The interior of the Countryman features loads of technology

This new Countryman is also much roomier than its predecessor, with a big 460-litre boot with plentiful underfloor storage too. There’s a decent amount of rear seat space although the chunky sports seats do get in the way.

What’s the spec like?

Mini Countryman
The JCW brings a high level of standard equipment

Though by no means cheap at £41,520, the Countryman JCW undercuts many of its rivals – Volkswagen’s T-Roc R, for example, starts from £45,000. It’s a good deal cheaper than an electric Countryman with the same power as well.

Verdict

The Mini Countryman JCW is a welcome addition to the sporty crossover market. It’s good to drive, offers plenty of performance and offers far more character than fairly plain rivals like the Volkswagen T-Roc R and Audi SQ2.

This latest model’s increased size makes it seem a far more substantial and useful car for families as well, while the interior – though a bit tricky to negotiate at first – is cool and stylish. If you want a useful crossover that can bring a smile to your face, the Countryman JCW is well worth a look.

  • Model: Mini Countryman John Cooper Works All4
  • Price: £41,520
  • Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol
  • Power: 296bhp
  • Torque: 400Nm
  • Max speed: 155mph
  • 0-60mph: 5.2 seconds
  • CO2 emissions: 177-188g/km
  • Fuel economy: 34-36.2mpg

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