MINI are one of those brands everyone seems to have a story about. Whether it’s a personal experience, a childhood memory, or your parents owned one, the MINI has a place in everyone’s hearts. The 2020 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman is no different.
The JCW edition of the popular compact SUV/hatch is packed with character and practicality, to boot, over the traditional hatch (no pun intended). You might say this performance variant has it all, and more.
By now we all know the story of MINI, and how it has forged its own special place in automotive history. From its small car charm and fun character to its modern revival through BMW, it’s evolved from a small hatch into several model variants.
The Countryman is the most family friendly and versatile of them all, headlined by the performance-oriented John Cooper Works model. Previously criticised for not having the same fun factor as the Cooper and Clubman offerings, MINI decided to change things up.
They did so by adding JCW spice to the Countryman, with flavoursome upgrades to power, handling and styling; all the areas which make the MINI so much fun. And if numbers are your thing, they’re impressive, whichever way you look at them.
The MINI JCW Countryman is powered by a 2.0-litre TwinPower turbo 4-cylinder engine, which produces 225kW and 450Nm, sprints from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and continues all the way to a speed limited 250km/h top speed.
Driven through an 8-speed automatic gearbox and MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system, the JCW Countryman is smooth and composed in whatever situation you can throw at it, except in Sports mode.
Flick the centre console mounted toggle switch and this Countryman comes alive. The exhaust valve opens for a throatier note which pops and burbles on overrun, the interior ambient lighting changes to red and the chassis tightens up for a more dynamic ride.
Sports mode is what it’s all about. It makes the driving experience in the Countryman simply awesome, with all the right noises, and taut and direct handling. It gives you that hair standing on end feeling when tackling your favourite back road.
That’s why you buy a MINI, especially a JCW fettled one. You can say what you want about the Countryman, but those three letters make all the difference. But despite all that excitement, it’s surprisingly economical, returning 7.9-litres/100km in fuel usage.
That’s more than respectable for an SUV of its capabilities and fun factor. Speaking of capabilities, the JCW Countryman is massive inside, able to seat five adults in absolute comfort with an abundance of space.
It’s one of those cars whose interior space does not quite add up with its exterior dimensions. Much like the original MINI in that way, just with a larger boot. We should mention it comes with its own JCW interior too.
The MINI Yours leather lounge style seats in carbon black look simply fantastic, and crucially, are supportive when you need them, on some nice twisty roads. The embossed Union Jack in the headrest and stitched-in buttons are a nice nod to its English heritage.
Piano black surfaces with red accents on the dashboard complement that dominant circular central instrument, which is another design element carried over from the original MINI.
The surrounding ring of LED’s are colour coded to its different functions also. Think of it as a visual confirmation of sorts, which also shows volume level and doubles as an RPM indicator in Sports mode.
The JCW Countryman has all the infotainment features you’ve come to expect from performance cars, including satellite navigation, Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio, and a head-up display as standard.
But in this case you can also throw in real-time traffic information, and a 12-speaker Harmon Kardon HiFi sound system. It makes for a formidable mix that won’t leave you wanting in the technology department.
Driver safety and assistance too, are well appointed and ensure that you always feel secure when driving the Countryman. All the usual acronyms come as standard, including dynamic stability control and ABS.
City crash mitigation and pedestrian detection, forward collision warning and cornering brake control are just some of the additional systems which will take over and ensure a safe journey for you and your family.
Competition in the market mainly comes from the BMW X2 M35i, which is hardly surprising given they share the same drive train. The JCW Countryman is about $5k cheaper though and has more character than the X2, which just feels a bit too serious.
Priced from $71,943 drive away, the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman certainly demands a high price tag, which gets even higher once you start adding option packs and accessories. You can’t put a price on character though, and this car is loaded with it.
That’s the beauty of the MINI brand. There are so many ways to personalise your ride and make it your own, on top of what is already a car packed with funk and quirkiness. It’s unashamedly different, and that’s the best thing about it.
The question is not whether you should buy one, but why shouldn’t you. If you’re the type of person who wants to stand out from the crowd, have fun, and express yourself, then this car is for you. If not, then you have your answer too.
Our 2020 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman was supplied by MINI Australia. To find out more, contact your local MINI dealer.