This Mini Countryman on steroids signed by John Cooper Works is inspired by its World Rally Championship lineage and Dakar Rally win. We found it to be practical and, like other Minis, easy to drive and park in the city. The John Cooper Works Countryman makes a fitting choice for those who need the utility of a crossover or station wagon type vehicle, but don’t want to give up sporty driving altogether. Thanks to its all-wheel-drive system, the JCW Countryman is actually one of the best handling Minis we’ve tested. Unlike the JCW Mini hardtop, which clomps and bounces down the road like a racecar, the Countryman provides a civilized ride as well. Its AWD setup also neutralizes the torque-steer that plagues front-wheel-drive Minis.
With an extra 200 lbs to carry around, the Countryman is not quite as quick off the line as the other JCW-tuned Coopers, but it’s not as far off the pace as you might expect. We found our example to be responsive and peppy, thanks to the extra boost pressure on its 1.6 liter engine.
Inside, the cabin has all of the cuteness and slightly toylike feeling we’re used to with Mini Coopers. The large round central speedometer pod now houses a screen hosting the MiniConnect suite of infotainment features. The tach, at least, sits right where it should, behind the steering wheel, and the HVAC system still features its unique rocker switches. Seats are supportive and comfortable.