I get excited when I hear the words AMG, M, STI, and RS. So little to my surprise when they delivered the Mini Countryman S, I had a bit of a smirk when I looked a little closer and realized that it was actually the “JCW”, Minis own Performance department.
Now Mini as a brand is already a pretty niche product because I really don’t know that many people who wake up every day and say, well I’m going to go and buy a Mini. Doesn’t matter which Mini in my mind a Mini is a Mini.
Except, they are kind of not. The Mini range is now rather extensive and they do have a model for most of the masses and I would probably summarize this countryman as the family mule. When dressing up in very sexy 19inch John Cooper Works alloys and a stiffer suspension it’s arguably less suited to the family and more to the boy racer or boy that never grew up, but alas, dad can have a Mini that not only looks good, it goes well and handles very good too.
The JCW is powered by the BMW inspired 2.0 petrol turbo and makes a decent 170kw. This is mated to an 8-speed transmission and dare I say it, perhaps a little tall geared for the application. It’s smooth but ridiculously tall and if the car had the power to pull it, it would probably top out at near 300kph. Acceleration is brisk, with 0-100 claimed at 6.5 seconds, but something feels off, the car feels slower, though I’m sure it actually pulls off, the claimed numbers. It does not quite give you the feeling like a GTI does on full throttle and it sort of should because on paper, they make very similar power. I think what we are dealing with is a porker, sir…
The interior is one of the places I love about any Mini. Everything is in the detail. From the dip switches that open and close the sunroof, the little Union Jack button on the seats, the luscious red stitching on the steering wheel and the big start flip button on the center console. It’s like a toy car has come to life and given the kids everything they wanted. It’s awesome!
The interior Harmon Kardon audio system sounds pretty rad, though when comparing it to the likes of what you find in the BMW’s, acoustically it’s not there. And you may wonder why I compare it, well it’s because the mini might as well be a BMW. They get to use parts you find off the shelf, usually for much more expensive cars. It is, however, something I won’t order the car without.
There is very little not to like about this little bigger brother to the Cooper, it’s got two more doors, a raised ride height and looks amazing with the JCW kit on. If I had to find something not to like, it might be the 600k plus price tag, which is a pretty tough pill to swallow when in the market for such a little niche model. I just need to find a way to drive one daily.