Mini’s John Cooper Works tuning house has so far produced five sporty variants of its cars: the Cooper, Cooper Convertible, Clubman, Roadster, and Coupe. The trend continues with the 2013 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works, and while the formula is familiar, it’s the first all-wheel-drive JCW offering from Mini.
All John Cooper Works Minis have characteristic modifications. Mini first takes an S-spec car and adds power, changing select powertrain and suspension pieces along the way. Throw in a dash of sporty design like an aero kit and large wheels, and you’ve arrived at a JCW.
With that in mind, there shouldn’t be many surprises with the JCW Countryman. Based on the Countryman Cooper S All4, the JCW version amps up Mini’s 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four engine and takes it from there. Mini swaps in reinforced pistons and valves, a larger intercooler for the twin-scroll turbocharger, and tweaks the intake, exhaust, and cooling systems. The result is 211 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 30 horses and 30 lb-ft. As with other JCW models, the turbocharger has an overboost function that can briefly deliver 221 lb-ft when the engine is between 2100 and 5200 rpm.
The base transmission is Mini’s familiar six-speed Getrag manual box, which offers heartier internals and a stronger clutch to handle the increased power and torque. Mini will also offer buyers an upgraded version of the Countryman S’s Aisin six-speed automatic transmission, making this the first JCW-spec Mini to offer such an option. As one might expect from Mini, the manual transmission offers a more rewarding experience, scooting from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 7.1 seconds — 0.4 seconds faster than the automatic. Regardless of transmission, the Countryman tops out at 127 mph.
The newfound power is sent through Mini’s All4 all-wheel-drive system, which uses an electromagnetic center differential to route power to the front or rear wheels. By default, the system sends 100 percent of the power to the front wheels, but can deploy up to 50 percent to the rear wheels in low-traction situations.
The JCW Countryman gets some road-holding help from a standard sport suspension that stiffens the springs and dampers, drops the ride height by 10mm (0.39 inches), and adds stronger anti-roll bars. The car sits atop 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, with the option to upgrade to JCW Countryman-exclusive 19-inchers.
The JCW Countryman’s increased power should mean increased fuel consumption, and preliminary numbers confirm that: Using the E.U. testing cycle, the JCW Countryman earns a combined rating of 32.7 mpg with the manual and 29.4 mpg with the automatic, slightly lower than the 35.1 mpg and 30.6 mpg ratings scored by the Cooper S Countryman All4 in Europe. EPA numbers have not yet been finalized for the U.S.
A JCW Mini isn’t complete without a few visual touches, and Mini promises those for the Countryman as well. A full aero kit with side skirts and front and rear aprons, Mini’s well-known hood stripes, and a selection of John Cooper Works badges on the radiator grille, tailgate, and the door sills adorn the car. Also exclusive to the JCW Countryman is the Chili Red hue, which is offered for the roof, wing mirrors, and side stripes. The red motif extends to the interior, where the color is available as contrast stitching on the steering wheel, sports seats, gear shift lever, and floor mats. Chili Red, meanwhile, is available on select trim strips for the doors and center console.
Mini says the JCW Countryman will go on sale this fall. While the company hasn’t announced pricing, we estimate the car will start around $35,000.