Tuning arm, motorsports division, special vehicle operations, call them whatever you want. Essentially, what they do is take cars and make them ‘special’, meaning more badass and of course, way faster than what they already are.
While BMW has ‘M’, Mercedes-Benz has AMG, and Jaguar Land Rover have the Special Vehicle Operations, MINI has John Cooper Works.
It all began back in 1961, when British racing legend John Cooper decided to fit a more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a few tuning tweaks of his own onto a regular MINI Cooper to create the Mini Cooper 997, which went on to conquer the world rally scene for years to come.
Thanks to his success, it was no surprise that when BMW acquired the MINI brand in 2000, the John Cooper name was retained to identify the brand’s most performance focussed products.
Today, the John Cooper Works (JCW) models are the most premium offerings of their respective model lines – carrying with them the premium trimmings, the full suite of technical features, and the most powerful engines.
That being said, the car we’re looking at here, the Cooper S Countryman JCW, is the most recent offering from John Cooper Works in Malaysia alongside the Clubman JCW which we got our hands on recently.
Priced at RM378,888 on the road without insurance, the Countryman JCW is powered by a new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine which produces 306 hp and 450 Nm of maximum torque, which enables the car to do the century sprint in 5.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 250 km/h. Paired to the engine is an 8-speed Steptronic Sports Automatic Transmission.
Compared to the outgoing Countryman JCW, this car here makes 75 PS and 100 Nm more. If we are to compare it with the regular Countryman, the JCW package delivers a massive 114 PS and 170 Nm more! How is that for a bump?
The JCW model also gets a beefier 8-speed gearbox instead of the regular Countryman’s 7-speed unit, which is actually one of the reasons behind the bump in power, and that’s not all.
The JCW Countryman model is also supplied as standard with MINI’s “ALL4” all-wheel drive system for better traction, a sport suspension system that lowers the car by 10 mm over the Cooper S for better stability and looks, Adaptive Suspension for that perfect mix of comfort and sharp handling, louder exhausts, bigger air intakes, chunkier brakes, as well as a unique styling package both on the exterior as well as the interior.
So, if you’re wondering if the RM378,888 you’re paying for this car over the regular Countryman Sports’ RM248,888 is “just for some cosmetic enhancements”, no it isn’t macha… absolutely not! The JCW Countryman is a completely different animal and in our opinion, it is worth every extra sen it asks for.
On the exterior, all the special JCW bits make the Countryman here look noticeably sportier than its regular sibling, but it still doesn’t look as cool as the JCW Clubman, which in our opinion, is the best looking model in the MINI stable at the moment.
While some may find the JCW Countryman a bit too visually loud for their liking with the two-tone colour, the big wheels, and what not, we absolutely love it as it gives the car a very “race-y” look. Plus, it turns heads towards you!
Inside, the JCW Countryman features sporty racing seats upholstered in Carbon Black Dinamica Leather, JCW leather steering wheel, JCW instrument cluster, JCW centre display trim, JCW start screen, and JCW doorsills.
The car also features stainless-steel pedals, on top of the “MINI Yours” Interior Cockpit Surface in Piano Black that illuminates at night in 12 different colours. A Panoramic Roof additionally adds to the airiness of the cabin space.
There is no doubt that the cabin is among the coolest looking ones in the market at the moment, but it is not the most comfortable though, due to sporty suspension that may be a bit too firm for some.
On the bright side, there is a lot of space in the JCW Countryman for both occupants and their belongings, which makes it ideal for families. So, if you’re a family-oriented person who still has the itch for speed, the JCW Countryman is definitely for you.
The Countryman here is the biggest vehicle MINI has ever produced. In fact, there’s nothing mini about it. With all the John Cooper Works goodies thrown into the package, this car should rightfully be called the “MEGA” Countryman.
Sharing the same UKL2 platform with the BMW X1, the new Countryman is an entirely redesigned model, measuring 200 mm longer and 30 mm wider than its predecessor. The wheelbase has also been lengthened by 75 mm, translating to more space in the cabin.
Speaking of space, there’s plenty knee room for rear seat passengers, even for tall adults. In addition, the rear seats also slide and recline to let owners have more boot space, which stands at 450 litres, and 1,309 litres with the rear seats folded.
Despite its massive dimensions, the way it drives is unmistakeably MINI – with mighty impressive road-holding abilities and composure. This is a vehicle which barely knows what the term “body-roll” even means.
One feature which deserves a lot of credit is the All4 all-wheel drive system, which makes all the 306 PS so useable. Unlike many 300-odd PS performance cars out there which just “explode” when you put the accelerator pedal to the floor, with torque-steer scaring the crap out of the driver, the JCW Countryman here instils confidence in you when you push it harder and harder.
It does exactly what you expect it to do, and responds so well to every input. Just like an automatic machine gun, you just point and shoot. The car does the rest, while making you look cool in the process.
Overall, what we have here is a vehicle is not only generous with space, but also power, so much power that you are actually quicker than about 70% of the cars on Malaysian roads.
It may look like a regular Countryman with some cosmetic enhancements here and there but the amount of JCW performance-oriented goodies that have gone into the car is actually quite extensive.
Yes, a regular Countryman may be sufficient for most people as it still drives bloody well and has plenty of horses under the hood, but this here, is not a car for “most people”, but for those who either want to “go big or go home.”