I must admit right of the bat that I was not a fan of the MINI Countryman before getting the opportunity to test drive on recently in KZN.
But the second generation of this little beast has certainly changed my perceptions. The Countryman is the biggest and most versatile model in the entire range of the tradition-steeped British brand.
With an output of 170 kW, it is the most powerful engine ever to be fitted in a MINI: in combination with the standard all-wheel drive system ALL4 and a robust vehicle concept, it ensures that the latest addition to the family of top John Cooper Works athletes takes the MINI experience to a whole new level – in terms of both race track feeling on the road and extreme driving fun over unsurfaced terrain which we also got to experience. And it definitely held its own off-road.
The new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds with both the standard 6-speed manual transmission and the optional 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission. In doing so it is 0.8 or 0.7 seconds faster than the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4. The superior performance qualities of the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman are likewise reflected in its elasticity on interim sprints, cornering agility and deceleration performance.
These qualities are the product of an overall package that has been compiled based on John Cooper Works racing expertise, including not just the engine and all-wheel drive system but also a sports suspension with 18-inch John Cooper Works light alloy wheels and Brembo sports brake system, special body features to optimise aerodynamic properties and cooling air intake, and a model-specific cockpit with John Cooper Works sports seats. Overall it’s a pretty impressive car that would be well suited for a young family that love the MINI brand but want a little more space to fit the entire family comfortably.