Introduced at the 2016 LA Auto Show, the new Mini Countryman is the biggest, beastliest vehicle in Mini's history. An all-new John Cooper Works package makes it a little beastlier, adding more power, a tuned chassis and other upgrades developed to make it a better performer on road, dirt and track. This "mini" SUV fires 228 horses at all four wheels and promises spirited acceleration, agile cornering and confident braking.
The new JCW Countryman features hardware and technology filtered down from the new Countryman-based John Cooper Works Rally, which recently tackled Dakar. It shares its beating heart with the other contemporary members of the JCW family. That 2.0-liter turbo four is billed as the "the most powerful engine ever to be fitted in a Mini," putting 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (170 kW and 350 Nm) at the driver's disposal, a nice improvement over the Cooper S Countryman All4's 189 hp and 207 hp.
Whether the buyer keeps things standard with the six-speed manual or opts for the eight-speed paddle-shift Steptronic transmission, the JCW Countryman sprints from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.5 seconds, chopping up to 0.8 seconds off the Cooper S Countryman All4's time. The manual transmission offers combined fuel consumption of 7.4 L/100 km (32 mpg US), while the manual transmission cuts it down to 6.9 L/100 km (34 mpg). A sports exhaust ensures the upgraded engine makes itself heard.
Moving beyond the powertrain, other upgrades include an optimized sport suspension and improved aerodynamics package. A Brembo sports braking system brings the 18-in JCW light alloy wheels to stop. The weight-optimized All4 all-wheel drive and dynamic stability control help maintain traction and performance, whether kicking up dust, shooting corners on the racetrack, or driving home in the snow.
The driver can get the most out of the JCW Countryman by using the Mini Driving Modes feature, which comes standard. He or she can shuffle through sport, mid and green modes using the rotary dial, fine-tuning acceleration and steering curves, Steptronic transmission shifting characteristics, engine acoustics, and dynamic damper control.
The aerodynamics kit with its model-specific roof spoiler and front apron cooling inlets help to distinguish the John Cooper Works Countryman's exterior from other Countryman models. The JCW also comes with LED headlamps, red accents and JCW badges.
Inside, the new model features a John Cooper Works steering wheel and sports seats. The Mini Connected infotainment system with 6.5-in screen comes standard on US-market JCW Countryman models, as does a glass panoramic roof, Comfort Access keyless entry, rear-view camera and Park Distance Control rear parking sensors. Options include Driving Assistant, an 8.8-in touchscreen navigation system and Harman Kardon audio.
The new John Cooper Works Countryman will make its world debut at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show in April before hitting the market that same month.