Review: Mini Countryman John Cooper Works

Review: Mini Countryman John Cooper Works
Review: Mini Countryman John Cooper Works

 

Newcomer puts 228bhp to the ground through All4 all-wheel drive. We get behind the wheel

Putting aside the question of whether this 1550kg crossover can still justifiably be termed a ‘Mini’ – or indeed, whether such a lump is deserving of wearing the revered name of legendary racer and tuner Mr Cooper – we’ve driven the new Countryman John Cooper Works. Does the end result justify the extra premium over the existing models?

The newcomer boasts 228bhp from its reworked Cooper S 2.0-litre turbo. Teamed with a swifter-changing eight-speed auto box, standard-fit launch control and, most importantly, All4 all-wheel drive, this results in a 6.5-second 0-62mph sprint – 0.8 seconds quicker than the next-fastest Countryman. Then there’s the upgraded sports suspension with adaptive dampers, plus Brembo four-piston brakes, to accommodate the increased performance. JC would have approved.

Mini Countryman John Cooper Works Automatic

Price: £32,275
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged, petrol
Power: 228bhp at 5000-6000rpm
Torque: 258lb ft at 1450-4500rpm
Gearbox: 8spd automatic
Kerbweight: 1530kg
0-62mph: 6.5sec
Top speed: 145mph
Economy: (combined) 38.1mpg
CO2/BIK tax band: 169g/km, 32%

Yet while the Countryman JCW retains the ‘go-kart’ character of which Mini is so proud, it’s come at some cost. The bulky crossover’s high centre of gravity, that firm suspension, darty steering and rather highly strung stoppers give a less-than-natural feel. Too-easily accessed understeer belies BMW’s claim that the Mini can feed all its muscle to the back tyres.

In all, the newcomer does not offer the exciting, properly fast drive we’d expect of the JCW brand. Could the culprit be the extra 200kg the Countryman carries over the Cooper S? We reckon so. At least the premium cabin retains that characterful, slightly flash feel we all know and love. The Alcantara-trimmed bucket seats are very supportive and comfortable, too.

While we rather like the Countryman Cooper S, we can’t really see how this JCW version improves on the package. It carries a lot more bulk, and in trying to cover too many bases – fast family crossover meets flashy, overblown go-kart – it essentially feels like it’s having something of a personality crisis.

Review: Lotus Exige Cup 430

Surely an Exige can’t cost nearly £100,000? When it’s as good as this it canLotus has, in the recent past, been a little

Living with the BMW M135i

How will a used rear-wheel hot hatch measure up?The plan was to take a used hot hatch and see what we could do with it. Could we improve a

Review: Mercedes E220d Cabriolet

New E-Class range is completed by the Cabriolet – does it work best as a 2.0-litre diesel?The fourth and final piece in the new E-Class

Review: SsangYong Turismo

A great deal of space for not a great deal of money. Is that a good deal?In our vehicles, particularly if we’re thinking of family transport,