Mini Countryman - Click above for high-res image gallery

JCW Countryman? Sounds like a chain clothing store you'd find at your local shopping mall, but to automotive enthusiasts – Mini aficionados especially – it could only mean one thing: a performance-oriented version of Mini's just-released crossover.

While the thought of the vaunted John Cooper Works badge being applied to a crossover might seem like sacrilege, that's exactly what Bimmer fans – including those within the company – thought before the debut of the M versions of the X5 and X6 crossovers, and that hasn't stopped those models from reaching production. In the shadow of the oddball X6 M, suddenly a JCW Countryman doesn't seem so strange, now does it?

Considering that the base Countryman's turbo four already churns out 184 horsepower (compared to the 172 hp Cooper S hatch), a Works-prepared Countryman could surpass even the JCW Cooper's 211-hp output, driving through all four wheels. Rather interestingly, more than that could put the Countryman into Subaru WRX territory, but we'll likely have to wait a while to see it come to fruition (if it does at all), with sources pegging its potential release in about two years' time.

Related Gallery2011 Mini Countryman

[Source: Autocar]