DRAPED in Sage Green, the 2021 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works Classic is a truly splendid thing. But pretty looks is not what this performance SUV is about, rather, the JCW wants to play on the open road.
With that in mind, we jumped behind the wheel of the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder MINI and headed for Montalto, an epic little winery in Red Hill South in country Victoria. The destination wasn’t the important part though, it was the journey that was key.
Open roads, long straights, twisty corners, rain, slippery roads, bursts of sunshine, our adventure had it all. And so it was that the 225kW/450Nm ALL 4 John Cooper Works Countryman showed us how to smile, for no reason. Just to smile and take it all in.
The ride is firm, but not harsh, and softer than say MINI’s purist John Cooper Works GP hot hatch. The powerplant, which is paired to an 8-speed sport automatic transmission, offers plenty of grunt, and sounds pretty decent.
Fuel economy is a claimed 7.6-litres/100km and while we pretty much went for it in terms of driving the Classic version of the JCW Countryman, we still managed a reasonable 9.1-litres/100km.
Overall handling is excellent and the driving dynamics are superb, offering a really engaging feel, especially at pace. The plus side of the John Cooper Works Countryman is the Classic is feature packed. Like seriously feature packed.
With a freshened up design and the most power ever offered in a MINI, the 2021 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works Classic sports active cruise control with stop/go, adaptive LED headlights and adaptive suspension and dampers.
Green, Normal and Sport driving modes feature, and each offers its own benefits. Normal is where you’re likely to spend most of your time, but Sport offers some real get up and go, utilising all the power the BMW-derived power unit has to offer.
On the outside, there’s Carbon Black bonnet stripes and colour lines, adding to the overall John Cooper Works look, as does the aerodynamic body kit, sports stripes and rear spoiler. The combination makes it look like an oversized rally car cum SUV.
And while that isn’t for everyone, it is a groovy look that grows on you quite quickly. Piano Black grilles and air intakes only further the unique look, and the traditional MINI Union Jack taillights now make a welcome addition.
It rides on 19-inch wheels, shod with Goodyear rubber. We weren’t a massive fan of the boots to be frank, and while they’re good all-purpose tyres (this is an SUV after all), they feel a little hard for a vehicle that has a dual life as a performance car.
The interior is super spacious, with decent rear leg and headroom, and a 450-litre boot with all seats in place. The seats are legitimately comfortable, with the electrically adjustable front sports seats offering heating, while the rear seats are adjustable.
Leather features everywhere, including on the Nappa wrapped steering wheel, and the centre console comes with a comfortable arm rest, that’s surprisingly well placed. The ever popular control switches are present, as is the unique circular infotainment system.
It comes with DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay, a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, and satellite navigation with real time traffic information. The system is powered by MINI’s visual boost interface.
You’ll also find automatic climate control, a powered tailgate, velour floor mats, comfort access and keyless start, an anthracite headliner, a panoramic glass roof, lots of little storage spaces, and decent door bottle holders, and wireless phone charging.
The 2021 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman Classic has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, speed limiter technology and front and rear parking sensors.
There’s also forward collision warning, lane keep assist, auto high beam headlights, traffic sign recognition, automatic parking capability, improved stability and traction control, and a head-up display. A reversing camera also features.
The 2021 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works Classic is priced at $71,013 plus on-roads. A more affordable Essential variant sits below it, with the luxurious MINI Yours offering above.
You can choose from a number of cool colours, including the colour we tested, plus Moonwalk Grey, Rooftop Grey, Island Blue, Rebel Green, White Silver, Chili Red, British Racing Green, and Midnight Black.
Multiple roof colours are also available, as are different bonnet stripe colours. Inside, you can choose from four different interior trim colours, including traditional black, Chester Malt Brown, Chester Indigo Blue and Chester Satellite Grey.
For the record, we didn’t sample the wine at Montalto, but did check out the sculptures and sample some food. We may have found our way to Cheltenham on the way back to Melbourne though, for a little sneaky taste test.
You see, we stopped in at Bad Shepherd Brewing Co to sample their Peanut Butter Porter. In case you’re wondering, it’s damn tasty. Like the JCW MINI Countryman, it isn’t for everyone, but it’s proper delicious fun.
Our test vehicle was provided by MINI Australia. To find out more about the 2021 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works Classic, contact your local MINI dealer.