by Ian Wright
The Mini John Cooper Works Countryman fills a small niche in the automotive landscape as a genuinely hot little crossover against hot newcomers like the Hyundai Kona N, which perhaps explains why it looks so grumpy that it no longer has the roost all to itself. The JCW Countryman packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged BMW engine under the hood making 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque, and it drives like a hot hatch should. It's quirky, hip, stylish, and surprisingly roomy inside, making it the most practical fast Mini currently available without compromising on the brand's contemporary hallmarks. It's a genuinely quick little vehicle with a slick eight-speed automatic that can be controlled via paddles behind the steering wheel. Backing up the power is an ALL4 all-wheel-drive system and chassis tuning by the John Cooper Works division of Mini that makes it a joy to whizz round corners. What's not to love?
This year, Mini has updated the John Cooper Works Countryman in line with other Countryman models, which we review separately. Following a more extensive update last year, changes for the 2022 model year are minor. The JCW has had its top speed raised from 149 mph to 155 mph, an update that will hardly matter to 99 percent of motorists. Every model now comes with lane departure warning and SiriusXM satellite radio with a 12-month subscription. Two new packages - the Driver Assistance package and Convenience package - are offered for the Signature and Iconic sub-trims. They add features like a head-up display, active cruise control, park assist, an alarm system, a picnic cushion, and a rear armrest with cupholders.
See trim levels and configurations:
|John Cooper Works ALL4||
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
For many, a Mini is worth the money simply because it looks so good. Despite the Countryman's stretched, almost wagon-like dimensions - if only in relation to the regular Mini hatch - it has the same cheerful disposition. The base variant comes equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with cornering lights, and a panoramic moonroof. At the back, there's a sporty dual-exit exhaust and an aggressive diffuser. The detailing in those Union Jack taillights is particularly neat. The top Iconic sub-trim also comes with Piano Black exterior trim and power-folding mirrors.
The Mini John Cooper Works Countryman's dimensions include a length of 169.7 inches, a width of 71.7 inches excluding the mirrors (78.8 inches with the mirrors extended), and a height of 61.3 inches. A 105.1-inch wheelbase is shared with other Countryman models. Those specs make it Mini's largest model. As for curb weight, the JCW Countryman starts at around 3,790 pounds. Far from an off-roader, the JCW's ground clearance works out to 6.5 inches, but most Mini customers won't be interested in hunting down a Subaru Outback station wagon across dusty trails.
The Classic sub-trim is the most affordable variant and can be had in four colors, but only Moonwalk Grey won't add to the cost. For $500 more, you can choose from Island Blue, Midnight Black, and Chili Red. On this variant, the mirrors and roof are finished in the same color as the rest of the body. Moving up to the mid-range Signature adds colors like Sage Green, White Silver, Rooftop Grey, and JCW Rebel Green. All of the colors on this variant are included in the base price. Added to this, the Signature offers the choice of a contrasting color for the roof and mirrors. For example, Sage Green as the primary color can be paired with a roof and mirrors in Chili Red. Finally, the Iconic is the only trim that can be specified in Mini Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic. Other than this, it shares the Signature's color palette.
One of the main reasons to opt for the JCW Countryman is its welcome step up in power and performance. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine sends power to all four corners for maximum grip. This power plant produces 301 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque, allowing the crossover to sprint from 0-60 mph in a claimed 4.9 seconds. As if that's not quick enough, some independent tests have shown it to be even faster, making it one of the best performers in the segment. Even the ballistic Mini John Cooper Works GP can't outrun this Countryman up to 60 mph. If you have the chance to take the JCW to a safe, controlled environment, you'll be able to reach a top speed of 155 mph. Even the turbocharged Mazda CX-30, one of the most powerful small SUVs around, can't match the Mini's eagerness off the mark. Paired with a quick-shifting automatic transmission and sharp handling, the Mini is an unusually fun crossover.
Only one powertrain is on offer for the Mini JCW Countryman, not that you'd need anything more than this. The BMW-derived 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged four-cylinder engine generates 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. It's exclusively paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Naturally, you can take control using the steering-mounted paddle shifters.
Our test drive review of the Mini John Cooper Works Countryman revealed a crossover that's not only quick off the mark, but one that also emits a sporty exhaust note when Sport mode is activated. When driven more sedately, the engine is pretty refined for a four-pot, but most of the time, you'll want to make full use of the even spread of torque and the sharp throttle response. The eight-speeder can't fully replace the tactility of a manual, but it's a responsive gearbox when you need it to be.
Despite all the added styling, badging, and sporty accouterments, it's still a surprise how quick off the mark the JCW Countryman is. It's properly quick, and in sports mode, it even growls and can be inspired to deliver pops from the exhaust under deceleration. The adaptive suspension stiffens up, and the whole package truly shines in the fun stakes on the back roads, tackling any stretch with eagerness no matter how twisty things get. The turn-in is crisp, the car wants to rotate when you do, and everything hooks up to poke the JCW Countryman out of a corner with zest.
Out of Sport mode and into Comfort, the change is pronounced. You won't annoy any households you pass with engine noise as the JCW Countryman also knows how to relax. The suspension stays firm, but there's no excessive bumping or crunching over rough roads, or over that annoying little pothole you always forget is there. It's still zippy and happy to hustle, but the excess is toned down, and the JCW Countryman becomes an excellent urban and little suburban crossover. It may be too firm in Comfort mode for those that only occasionally want their car to party, but that's why the full JCW take on the Countryman is in a class of its own.
The JCW Countryman's fuel consumption is almost identical to the JCW Clubman. According to the EPA, the crossover will return gas mileage numbers of 23/30/26 mpg city/highway/combined. That's decent considering the power and performance on tap. A 16.1-gallon gas tank is equipped, so that should suffice for a mixed driving range of approximately 418 miles. During our week with the JCW Countryman, we came in nearer 22 mpg overall, but we hardly touched a freeway and drove many miles in the spirit JCW intended.
If you're concerned about dozing off behind the wheel due to extreme boredom, the new Mini John Cooper Works Countryman isn't a bad car to get. A circular theme for the central touchscreen area, some pleasingly sporty materials, and just enough Mini quirks make this one of the more visually exciting cabins in this segment. The usual Mini toggle switches and pod-like speedometer are sporty touches that haven't lost their appeal. Every model comes with standard features like heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic moonroof, dynamic cruise control, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. On the top Iconic sub-trim, you get features like a head-up display, active cruise control, power-folding mirrors, and power-adjustable front seats.
Mixing quirky, nostalgic, and modern together for a cohesive style is often a recipe for disaster, but Mini has nailed it. The interior is an ambient and comfortable place to be, and even the center passenger in the back row of three seats teenagers won't complain too much about space. Back there is a reasonable 37.6 inches of legroom while the front offers a more generous 40.4 inches. Headroom is also good, with 40.5 inches at the front and 37.5 inches in the back.
Wide-opening doors also help the Countryman as a family vehicle. The driver has excellent visibility all around due to plenty of upright glass to see through at every angle. The driver also has plenty of range to get comfortable and find the perfect car-like position.
On the base Classic, the JCW Countryman comes with either leatherette or Dinamica/cloth upholstery in Carbon Black. The front JCW sport seats feature manual adjustment with large bolsters to hold you in place. As standard, there is Piano Black interior trim, an Anthracite headliner, and a leather-wrapped JCW steering wheel.
There is more variety on offer with the mid-range Signature. This trim includes the same standard upholstery options as the Classic, along with leatherette/cloth in Black Pearl. For $1,000 more, the Signature Upholstery Package can be added. This will add several upholstery choices like Cross Punch leather in Carbon Black or Chesterfield leather in Indigo Blue, Malt Brown, or Satellite Gray. For another $500 on top of this, Mini Yours Lounge leather in Carbon Black can be fitted. Interior surface options like a Mini Yours Interior in shaded silver and a JCW Piano Black surface are available.
Finally, the Iconic sub-trim comes with leather upholstery as standard and in the same colors as the Signature's leather. However, customers can still opt for Dinamica/cloth here if desired. All models have a steering wheel covered in Nappa leather.
Compared to other crossovers that play in the same segment, the Mini fails to compete with its smaller-than-average trunk. Behind the front seats, there is 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Although adequate for weekly trips to the grocery store, even the BMW X2 - a small crossover not known for its cargo-hauling capabilities - offers over 21 cubes of space behind its rear seat. Fortunately, the Mini's rear seats can be folded in a 40/20/40 split to free up 47.6 cubes for larger items.
The interior is otherwise reasonably practical with a center console that is a reasonable size, door pockets that can accommodate small water bottles, seatback map pockets, and cupholders in front. A folding rear center armrest with two more cupholders can be equipped as part of the optional Convenience package.
The Mini John Cooper Works Countryman is far from a cheap vehicle, so the list of standard features is only average. On the base Classic sub-trim, you get dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera, dynamic cruise control, a panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, and LED fog lights. The Signature adds dynamic damper control and a few more options but it's the Iconic model that really takes the feature count to a higher level. This top-spec model boasts power-adjustable front seats, power-folding mirrors, a garage door opener, park assist, a head-up display, and active cruise control. All models get forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.
Every JCW Countryman uses an 8.8-inch touchscreen media display for infotainment duties. Bluetooth, HD Radio, and USB connectivity remain standard this year but navigation and Apple CarPlay are only equipped to the top two trims. Android Auto remains absent entirely. This year, SiriusXM satellite radio with a 12-month subscription is standard on all models. A six-speaker sound system is also standard. Also optional from adding packages is navigation, wireless phone charging, a head-up display, and, annoyingly, the ability to control music and phone calls from your Bluetooth connection via the steering wheel controls. The system is cohesive and quick to react to input, but the screen is small enough to make using the rearview camera frustrating.
Although the 2021 Mini Countryman did suffer a single recall, this applied to the hybrid variant only. The 2022 model has not yet been recalled.
Like other Minis, the JCW Countryman is sold with a four-year/50,000 mile limited warranty, a powertrain warranty for the same duration/mileage, and 12 years of rust perforation coverage. Customers will also receive four years of roadside assistance and complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles.
Both the NHTSA and the IIHS have yet to review the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman. However, the 2021 model attained Good scores for every crashworthiness test conducted by the IIHS, indicating that this is a safe crossover. These scores indicate that the high-performance JCW should also perform well in the unfortunate event of a crash.
Every Mini JCW Countryman comes with a rearview camera, tire-pressure monitoring, electronic stability control, traction control, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and LED headlights. There are eight airbags dotted around the cabin including knee airbags for both front occupants. All models also come with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. The top trim comes with the Driver Assistance Package as standard (optional on the Signature) and this bundles together park assist, active cruise control, and a head-up display.
The John Cooper Works Countryman is a great vehicle for those who value their sporty driving highly and want a small crossover for daily driving. For anyone not committed to sporty driving, the JCW Countryman is on the firm side, and you have to pay extra for infotainment features that are standard on most crossovers now. If you won't miss standard features like a good-sized infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay, and control over your phone from the steering wheel, the JCW Countryman is a riot to drive on a back road and an energetic vehicle around town.
When it comes to a small performance-enhanced crossover, there isn't anything better we can think of right now in terms of dynamics, power, and style. Begrudgingly, we accept its infotainment flaws.
As one of the pricier small crossovers for sale in the US, the 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman range begins with the Classic at an MSRP of $41,500, excluding a destination charge of $850. This is exactly the same price as last year's equivalent model in the USA. The mid-range Signature costs $44,900 and the Iconic has the highest price at $48,900. The price of the Mini John Cooper Works Countryman can climb to over $50,000 with all the options ticked.
For 2022, the Mini JCW Countryman ALL4 is still offered in a choice of three sub-trims: Classic, Signature, and Iconic. Regardless of which one you choose, every version uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. An all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic gearbox are standard across the range.
Starting with the Classic, this derivative comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, a choice of four exterior colors, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a panoramic glass moonroof, and a choice of either leatherette or Dinamica/cloth upholstery.
The mid-range Signature comes with an expanded color palette and can be specified with a contrast color for the roof/wing mirrors. Dynamic damper control, Apple CarPlay, and navigation become standard and the options list expands to include leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and power-folding mirrors.
Finally, the Iconic variant uniquely comes with the option of Mini Yours Enigmatic Black metallic paint. It also gets a head-up display, park assist, active cruise control, and power-adjustable front seats.
With the base Classic sub-trim, the starting John Cooper Works Countryman price you see is essentially the one you'll pay as this is the least customizable model in the lineup. It can, however, be upgraded with a few standalone options like black sport stripes for $250,
For the Signature, one of the nicer upgrades is the $1,000 Signature Upholstery Package which introduces a range of leather upholstery choices. The $1,250 Driver Assistance Package adds a head-up display, active cruise control, and a parking assistant. You can also have the $1,750 Premium Package which adds a garage door opener and Piano Black exterior trim. Last year, this package included a Harman Kardon sound system but a parts shortage appears to have temporarily excluded this option. Finally, the $700 Convenience Package includes a picnic cushion, a rear center armrest, and an alarm system.
The range-topping Iconic offers the Convenience Package for $500.
Any way you look at it, the JCW Countryman is pricey for a small crossover, and you're buying it for its performance and style. If you can afford it, we suggest going straight in there for the Iconic sub-trim with the inclusive Driver Assistance Package, so you have the best of performance, comfort, and convenience. However, we wouldn't throw out the Classic as an option as the performance is up there with the rest and the standard equipment list is decent.
Most will likely opt for the middle Signature sub-trim and take advantage of the extra paint options and one of the packages.
Is it really worth the extra cost to get the JCW or will the regular Cooper Countryman suffice? For close to $10,000 less, you could drive off in the Cooper S Countryman. It's also available with all-wheel drive and, while it's down on power at 189 hp, it can reach 60 mph in just over seven seconds. Although the JCW enjoys a sportier appearance and unique interior appointments, equipment levels are not drastically different between the two crossovers. You could get a well-equipped Cooper S Countryman with premium leather and navigation for around the same price as the base JCW Countryman. If you want the fastest Countryman you can get, the JCW can't be beaten, but the Cooper S is a better-balanced package.
The JCW Countryman's price puts it into close contention with premium crossovers like the BMW X1. In fact, the JCW is comfortably more expensive as the 2021 X1 xDrive28i starts at $37,400. The BMW isn't as funky to look at as the Mini, takes a tardier 6.3 seconds to reach 60 mph, and isn't as fun to throw around the corners. However, the X1 is a better SUV in the traditional sense. There's more space for occupants and its 27.1 cubic feet of cargo space dwarfs the Mini's 17.6-cube effort. The X1 is better-equipped as well, with standard power-adjustable front seats, front/rear parking sensors, and Apple CarPlay - these features will cost extra on the base JCW Countryman. For a more conservative buyer that needs a family-friendly SUV, the X1 is an easy winner. But the Mini is undeniably more fun.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman: