2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works side view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear view

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front detail

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front bumper

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works headlight

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front fascia

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works hood

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works wheel

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works side detail

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works roof spoiler

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear detail

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works taillight

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear fascia

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works engine

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works engine

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works interior

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works interior

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works interior

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front seats

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front seats

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works shifter

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works sill plate

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear seats

  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works
  • 2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear seats

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.6L I4
Power:
223 HP / 207 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
6.9 Seconds
Top Speed:
130 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel drive
Curb Weight:
3,200 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
16.5 / 41.3 CU-FT
MPG:
25 Comb.
Need A Bit More Pounce In Your CUV? Mini Has A JCW For That



As part of the ongoing master plan at Mini to attract distinction-seeking buyers who still have some disposable income left, we present the Mini Countryman Cooper S All4 John Cooper Works: the Mini CUV with the mighty long name.

This latest Mini JCW will get its world premiere at this March's Geneva Motor Show, but we've just enjoyed a pre-holiday drive in the remote mountain lair of Kühtai, 6,600 feet up in the Austrian Alps. As you'd expect, there was snow and rocks and animal skin sweat lodges and hot wine, but the Countryman All4 JCW got us out of there and back to our families in the flatlands. Our drive consisted of a two-lane road loop with plenty of overtaking chances and a decently long off-road parcours etched into a local abandoned ski hill.

Thus far, Mini's strongest JCW model has been gifted with a 208-horsepower version of the BMW/PSA turbocharged 1.6-liter direct injection in-line four-cylinder, dubbed "N18" as it's assembled at Mini's Hams Hall UK factory. Head of chassis development for BMW Group, Heinz Kruche, tells Autoblog that the Countryman will get "around 15 more horses and the same for torque" to help deal with the Countryman's additional weight. Thus, this 3,200-something pound "Mini" should pack somewhere around 223 horses at 6,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque between 1,850 and 5,600 rpm when it arrives Stateside this June. Good. But is it good enough?

2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works side view2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear view

As we attacked the slippery alpine climbs and descents, we couldn't help notice that this Countryman feels lighter than its heft would suggest. The added power and torque certainly helped, yes, but the Sport chassis stance that lowers the JCW Countryman down four-tenths of an inch versus the standard Cooper S All4 deserves some credit for the additional driving security. We're guessing the winter wear 17-inch Bridgestone Blizzak tires mounted on our prototype's heavily drilled-out (and awesomely purposeful) steel wheels helped too.

Another much appreciated trick of the elfin folk at Mini's happy All4 workshops in Graz, Austria, are the JCW's larger diameter front and rear stabilizer bars. One millimeter more might not seem like much, but with this size vehicle, it can have a hugely pleasing effect, and that's exactly the case here. The 23-millimeter broad front stabilizer bar and 17-mm bar in back worked their wonders on the lowered sportier chassis, filling us with confidence as the snow fell thick and other motorists became legitimately tentative. That Mini uses a heavily modified version of this exact vehicle for its rather successful Mini World Rally squad suddenly makes good sense.

2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works headlight2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works side detail2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works roof spoiler2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works rear fascia

At the heart of this driver security and bad weather boldness is what is essentially a bolt-on electro-magnetic rear differential supplied by GKN. The addition renders the Countryman a very capable all-wheel driver that nearly feels like a full-bore four-wheel-drive setup. Whereas BMW's xDrive technology is electro-mechanical, comes from a separate supplier and is meant for much heavier duty, the compact and lightweight All4 solution is rightly matched to this Mini's more modest needs. In the end, it feels exactly as agile as a mechanical self-locking differential while adding a negligible amount of weight – and it's quicker to act. We have rarely felt a more pleasing multi-plate wet clutch in operation under such trying circumstances as those faced in Ski Central. When we return to cruising the drier and easy-going byways, however, even the All4 Countryman returns to being a front-wheel driver.

For the off-road bits, the robust all-wheel-drive setup on the Countryman All4 JCW benefits from exactly this lightning-fast thinking of the GKN unit. Granted, we thought the system might be right at the limit of its capabilities given the Countryman's weight, but any such notions were dismissed over the course of our drive. We switched off Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control, turned on the Sport mode to summon quicker throttle response, increased steering weight and a throatier sounding exhaust, and there was nothing this wee powerhouse refused to do. Having the added lunge on tap thanks to the JCW's quicker throttle made dispatching iffy bits of road or wagon trail mere child's play. With just 5.5 inches of ground clearance with the sport chassis setup, you'll still want to stay clear of the truly hardscrabble stuff, however.

2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works engine

Another appreciated upgrade are rear brake discs that measure 11.7 inches versus the Cooper S All4's 11.0-inch units. Coupled with the 12.4-inch Brembo front discs, they atone for the additional heft and workload of the rear axle and electro-magnetic rear differential. To its confidence-building credit, feedback from the brake pedal consistently proved just right for the circumstances. While 130 miles per hour remains the top speed cutoff, acceleration to 60 mph will dip just below 7.0 seconds – more than quick enough for this sort of transportation.

But, let's face it, this is a big road warrior in a small package and the All4 setup is meant to face skiing traffic in bad weather – at most. If that's the type of foul weather and rough road duty that defines your upper limit, then the Mini Countryman All4 Cooper S JCW is practically overkill it's so good, leaving you to make your buying decisions based on how much cargo or passenger space you have to have, how you like its looks, and whether the price is within your budget.

2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works interior2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works front seats2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works shifter2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works sill plate

As to the latter of those three factors, cost, this JCW certainly isn't cheap, which should come as a surprise to exactly no one. But then again, Minis aren't built to be cheap, nor age as a cheap car often does. If you're looking for a model exactly like our prototype test car, your bank vault should be ready to trim off about $34,000 at least (i.e. pre-options list) – or just over 20 ounces of the gold you're hoarding.

As to design questions, the Countryman has always struck us as a bit gawky, but like the pocket-protector geek who secretly goes to the gym, that's just part of its charm. The lowered suspension helps the look of Mini's bulldog a lot, as do the various aero bits tacked on to give it some hair on its chest. The interior is what we've come to expect of any JCW – black leather that feels good, red piping on all the edges, and plenty of JCW logos. At this point, Mini (along with its mass of customers) has wholly embraced kitsch as the new normal, so we'll spare you the reiteration of our various ergonomic quibbles. The cargo range of 16.5 cubic feet up to 41.3 cubic feet remains strictly unimpressive, but, again, it's normally more than sufficient for two people and their stuff.

2012 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works driving

Engineer Kruche hinted with shrugging shoulders and grins that we were not far off the mark in anticipating that the Countryman would be the first John Cooper Works edition to have the $1,250 Aisin six-speed automatic with shift paddles available as an option, especially seeing as the percentage of two-pedal Countryman setups has proven especially high worldwide. Though this option typically peels away a couple miles per gallon, the average for this JCW automatic should get an EPA rating of 25 mpg. Personally? We'd definitely stick with the manual six-speed since it is better in every way, unless having to move your arms and legs in bumper-to-bumper traffic threatens your couch potato existence.

While our long-term Mini Countryman has left some of us a little chilly both in the performance and price departments, the JCW kit has the potential to deal with our largest complaint: a general lack of engagement. The Sports suspension and 18-inch rollers of our long-termer have proven more stiff than sporty, but the added power, reworked All4 system and larger anti-roll bars give this JCW variant some much-needed pop over the standard model. But is it enough? We'll wait until we test a full production-spec model to see if impressive first impressions last, but thus far, the Mini team has done what was required: making the maxi-Mini dance like a proper Cooper.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      Sealy
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it continually confusing that with an All 4 CUV, you have only one option for other than run-flat, summer performance tires. I opted for the 18" wheels and had no option - except to mount snow tires on an extra set of wheels and to keep a can of slime in my boot. Heck, I'm not even suppose to run my tires in the cold. If you are going to market a vehicle as a all-weather soft roader, at least let your buyers option it accordingly. Love my Countryman, have other feelings for BMW.
        Mojosan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sealy
        You're spot on with the run flat issue. I'm thinking of changing them out and putting on a set of regular tires with a emergency repair kit. Put the run flats back on at trade in time...
        untitledfolder
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sealy
        God, run-flats on my r56 are horrid. I need to get rid of them so badly, they make the ride miserable in exchange for negligible handling.
      Monkaroo
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's a lot of power out of a 1.6 liter turbo.
      Pete K
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who in their right mind will spend $34k on this... I've never understood the John Cooper works offers at these price points.
      ted
      • 3 Years Ago
      For a few thousand less you can get a fully equipped VW golf R with more power/torque and an interior that doesn't make you want to vomit.
        untitledfolder
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ted
        You sure the golf R is even available? Last I heard there was dealer markup, and MSRP was goal... if you could even get one. Also, it's neutered compared to the euro spec.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ted
        [blocked]
      Dasupersprint
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't understand the price. If you can get over it's styling, a Juke is a much much cheaper option
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a great car, but it needs about 40 more hp and the price needs to be cut by $5k.
      Wetstuff
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pete, Me too.. They have turned a charming car into seemingly, 8 versions of Joan Rivers. Giving a car something akin to a Miami butt augmentation does not bode well for the brand's future. They are simply milking this cow down to the silicone at moment. Jim
        Phontsolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Wetstuff
        I don't see the issue with creating different variations of one model. It's called options. To me it doesn't dilute the product, it makes it better. You want a Mini Cooper Coupe? You got one. You want a Mini Cooper Convertible? You got one? You want a bigger Mini Cooper? You got one. I don't see the problem and neither does BMW.... because they're selling.
          untitledfolder
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Phontsolo
          It's just another version of the Porsche Cayenne fiasco. Porsche just wasn't allowed to be anything else but sports cars, and when they bucked the trend their fanboys screamed. What'dyaknow? It worked. They made tons.
      Mojosan
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm an auto enthusiast with everything from an AM General H1 to a Ferrari F430 in my stable. I've had a Mini Cooper S for a few years to use as a city car. I traded it in for a Countryman S All4 a bit ago and it's a great little trucklet. Has the same go kart feel of the regular Cooper (acceleration feels very similar, braking distance is definitely longer) but it can hold a lot of stuff and has a much nicer interior. I feels and drives like a small BMW, which is what it is. You're also paying a price that a small BMW will command, but its a great vehicle and holds its value very well.
        untitledfolder
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mojosan
        I like the countryman and am a big MINI fan (I have a 2010 r56), but they have practically the same interior. I'd say (and most mags agree) the Countryman is about 85% of the classic cooper handling butNOT 100%. It's a worthy compromise, don't get me wrong. I got my eyes on the possible paceman.
      Chris Carey
      • 3 Years Ago
      So its a 2002 WRX with a pretty interior . . . for 34 thousand dollars!?
      JonZeke
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love the wheels! I wonder if the ALL4 is overkill for the Countryman. While necessary for the Tahoe/Killington set, we're going with the FWD. It seems more fun and frisky, but maybe it could benefit from the rollbar upgrade.
      krische
      • 3 Years Ago
      I see this as probably the closest competitor to the Golf R.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
    • Load More Comments