Mini is taking renewed aim at the performance SUV ranks with its new and larger John Cooper Works Countryman. Set for UK sale in 2024, it receives an updated version of parent company BMW's turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which sends a total of 296bhp and 400Nm to both axles through an eight-speed automatic.
Those figures are slight decreases on its predecessor's but identical to the Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R, as well as the new BMW X2 M35i to which it is closely related.
Mini claims a 0-100kph time of 5.4sec -- making this hot new petrol option slightly quicker off the mark than the electric Countryman -- and a top speed of 250kph.
To be built alongside other Countryman and X2 variants in Leipzig, Germany, the latest model from Mini's performance division is marked out from its range-mates visually by a sporting-themed makeover inside and out.
Round touchscreen is shared, steering wheel unique to JCW.
Unique touches include a revised front end with a high-gloss treatment for the black grille, John Cooper Works-specific LED headlight graphics, a deeper and more heavily structured bumper and red vertical elements within the outer air ducts.
The brake calipers, mirror housings, roof and C-pillar also come in JCW's signature red. At the rear, there are new-look light clusters, together with a new rear bumper that features a central diffuser and a pair of round black tailpipes on either side. The uniquely styled wheels are 19in in diameter as standard, with 20in items optional.Larger than any previous Mini model, the new Countryman has grown by a significant 120mm in length and 22mm in width, at 4,433mm and 1,843mm respectively. Despite the car's increased dimensions, Mini claims a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.26.
Inside, there is a new John Cooper Works steering wheel and sports seats, as well as a dashboard with a red and black colour scheme. The car's new circular touchscreen is shared with other models in the overhauled Mini line-up.
JCW's tyres are wider than the standard car's, at 245mm, and its maker says this 'enhances the typical Mini go-kart feeling'.
In keeping with previous John Cooper Works models, the hot new Countryman receives its own uniquely tuned suspension set-up with stiffer springs and dampers in a bid to enhance cornering response and stability compared with other models in the line-up.
Like the new Mini Cooper hatchback, the Countryman comes with a choice of "atmospheric" driving modes, each with their own characteristics, soundtracks and displays.
The brand says that in the JCW Countryman, "the go-kart mode provides a particularly sporty driving experience, and you can hear the engine sound with impressive intensity in the cabin".Autocar
Red exterior detailing and badging denote this as the hot variant.
New JCW covers 0-100kph in 5.4sec; top speed is 250kph.