2020 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works
JCW edition has special rims, bumpers and JCW logos all around the Countryman
The 2020 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works is the fastest SUV in MINI’s model lineup. Countryman is one of the five MINI models that are currently available in North America, and John Cooper Works is the sportiest version of MINI Countryman. We usually describe MINI as a form over function brand, as it prioritizes its looks & design heritage more than anything. MINI was able to keep its original design elements from the 1950’s, and they were able to design a Sport Utility Vehicle which can haul your family while still looking good, unlike most other SUVs.
The North American market for sport utility vehicles is crowded, but there are few of them can offer performance features along with practicality. MINI Countryman JCW is one of the few options in this segment that combines performance and practicality while still prioritizing design elements in one platform. The big question is, how good is MINI Countryman JCW in each category and as an overall package? In our test, we will explain how MINI Countryman John Cooper Works stands in this niche segment, and how it differentiates itself from the crowd.
Engine & Transmission & Driving Impressions
In today’s standards, we would easily say the Countryman John Cooper Works is a good Swiss army knife of the car world, as it does everything well, but not perfectly. The most exciting part of this vehicle is its powertrain. Countryman JCW comes with a 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine, which pumps out 301 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque and it is matched with 8-Speed torque converted automatic transmission. Countryman JCW has a very good mid-range punch, and it definitely feels faster than an average small SUV. MINI Countryman JCW only comes with the ALL4 All-Wheel Drive system.
This is one of the quickest MINI’s we have ever reviewed, but it will never be as fast as a dedicated 300 horsepower hot hatch due to its additional weight and All-Wheel-Drive system. Speaking of the All-Wheel Drive system, it shares the same platform with BMW X1 and that means this is also a front-wheel biased AWD system, where the car sends power mainly to the front wheels, and to the rear when it’s needed. Driving dynamics are still very impressive for a small Sport Utility Vehicle, but it may not be the best option for people who are looking for pure performance as it tries to do everything good, rather than doing one thing perfectly.
If there is one word that we need to describe MINI Countryman JCW’s suspension, that would only be “impressive”. It is not overly stiff, but not soft. It absorbs bumps very well, but little to no body roll. For the price range, it seriously can’t get better than this. If you compare this suspension with a regular SUV, Countryman JCW feels stiffer, but definitely not in a bad way. The steering wheel was a little bit numb like the other MINIs. BMW and MINI have mastered overall suspension and drivetrain tuning in the last few years, and Countryman JCW is no exception.
There are three driving modes and each mode changes engine tuning and overall driving dynamics. Green mode allows you to coast when you drive downhill, which lets you save more gas but the throttle response is very slow. The comfort-Balanced mode is probably the best mode for daily driving. Sport mode gives you more torque at low rpm and better throttle response makes it very fun. However, it also makes steering wheel heavier, we wish we were able to customize this as it gets harder to use it in the city with Sport mode due to heavy steering. The best part is, it is just one switch. Each important feature still has a physical button including the air conditioning.
Interior & Features
The good thing is, MINI Countryman JCW offers exactly the same interior and cargo space with the other regular Countryman models. Like the other MINIs, it has lots of nice design elements and contains lots of soft-touch plastics all around the dashboard. If you are coming from another MINI, the dashboard and infotainment system would look very familiar to you. The Countryman JCW provides 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in place, and 47.6 cubic feet if you fold down the rear seats. Due to its boxy design, overall legroom and headroom are very generous on the MINI Countryman JCW.
Like the other MINI’s, it comes with many standard features like MINI infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, Automated Emergency Braking system, and six-speaker audio system. Of course, you can always upgrade with available features such as bigger 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Harman/Kardon Premium Audio system. However, there were some features that were not available in our previous MINI reviews. Some of them are paddle shifters and adaptive cruise control. The most important safety feature that is missing in Countryman JCW is the blind-spot monitoring. Though the visibility is very good, it would be nice to have, especially for a premium SUV.
What we didn’t like about the Countryman JCW are the seats. Though it comes with special JCW seats, side bolsters were not very comfortable. Those seats would be a great choice for MINI Cooper S, but it’s a little bit too aggressive even for a sporty SUV. For short distance or spirited driving, it is totally fine, but after a certain period of time side bolsters make you feel tired. We wish there is an adjustment option like high-end BMW’s where you can adjust how tight side bolsters. Other than that, Countryman JCW is a great blend of providing sporty driving dynamics and practicality in a same package and high-quality interior definitely helps to improve the overall driving experience.
Pricing & Trims & Conclusion
SUVs are very popular, but SUVs that can offer sporty driving dynamics are a niche class as not many people are looking for sporty driving dynamics from their daily commuters. If you want everything in one package, you either have to go to an exotic segment, or you only have a few options below a certain price range. MINI Countryman JCW is a good option considering that you need only one car that can go to grocery shopping, can do spirited driving, can take you to work, or wherever you want. As long as you don’t expect to be perfect in any particular segment, you will be happy.
Mini Countryman JCW comes with three different trims. The first one is the base trim which is called the Classic package, it comes with Panoramic Sunroof, different wheels, heated front seats, center armrest in the rear, and different color combinations which adds $1,800 CDN to the invoice. If you want everything available in a Countryman, you need to choose the Premier+ package which adds Harman Kardon Premium Audio system, Head-up Display, and Navigation for an additional $5000 CDN. Mini Countryman John Cooper Works starts at $46,000 CDN and with the optional package you choose, the out-the-door price can go all the way up to $60,000 CDN.
Would we recommend Mini Countryman JCW? Yes – if you are a die-hard MINI fan, need a fast SUV, and if the budget is no problem. Countryman JCW is a great combination of performance, utility, practicality, and comfort. The only flaw is it can’t get more than 8 out of 10 in any of those categories and as long as you are okay with this fact, you will be very happy with it. However, this is a very niche segment and there are not many alternatives that can offer hot hatch driving dynamics with SUV practicality. MINI did a great job with the Countryman JCW, as it is a great & fun daily driver
For more detailed and most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.mini.ca
Article and Photos by Dan Gunay