The 2025 Mini JCW Countryman Is a Compact SUV With a Dash of Mini Charm

By automotive-mag.com 7 Min Read

Mini says the vehicle you see here, the 2025 John Cooper Works Countryman, embodies “charismatic simplicity.” Oliver Heilmer, head of design at Mini, used that phrase a whole bunch of times while presenting the new Countryman in Lisbon a few weeks back. After driving the JCW version, I can confirm that there’s some level of charisma built into this two-box crossover. Simplicity? I’m not so sure about that one.

The all-new third-generation Countryman is the biggest member of the totally revamped Mini family. All three models—the traditional hardtop, the five-door Aceman which debuts later this year, and the Countryman—have been completely redesigned as Mini moves toward electrification. And make no mistake, the Countryman is big, having grown more than 2 inches taller and 5 inches longer than its predecessor. It’s got roughly the same footprint as a Bronco Sport, though the Ford’s roofline tops the Mini’s by a good four inches.

Quick Specs 2025 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman
Engine Turbocharged 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder
Output 312 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
0-62 MPH 5.4 Seconds
Base Price $47,895
On-Sale Date May 2024

The new Countryman is about as large as you could handle while zipping along coastal Portugal’s narrow roads. On these tight, twisty routes, you might swing blindly around a curve to find an oncoming coach bus taking up its entire lane and a good chunk of yours. Here, the Countryman’s newfound spaciousness was bracingly evident. On American highways, you’ll stay cool in the shade cast by the pickup trucks around you.

JCW trim brings pretty big power: 312 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque for US models, coming from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated exclusively to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. Mini says this combo is good for a 5.4-second sprint to 62 mph, and a sport-sedan-like 155-mph top speed. Pricing starts at $47,895, and US deliveries are expected to begin in May.

Pros: Properly Quick, Nice Ride, Minimalist Interior

On the road, it feels properly quick. The engine redlines at 6,500 rpm, but makes its power in the midrange. That’s handy, because the transmission takes a bit longer to react to the wheel-mounted paddle shifters than you’d expect from a dual-clutch. Better to toggle the gearbox from D to S, which holds gears longer and does a fine job of shifting for itself on a winding back road. A long pull of the downshift paddle engages Boost mode, activating all of the maximum performance settings for 10 seconds.

Unlike other JCW models, the Countryman’s multi-mode exhaust is unerringly polite, even in its loudest mode. Most of the engine note that you hear comes through the speakers, a sporty synthetic growl laid over the four-cylinder’s moan. Mini didn’t provide many details on the suspension changes that come with the JCW package, other than to confirm that this version gets adaptive dampers and sport steering. On the road, the JCW has good ride quality and body control, even with the dampers to their firmest setting. The steering is quick and precise, if electrically numb, and braking is confident.

Mini is known for its cartoonishly retro interiors, but the Countryman’s plastic facsimile of an Issigonis-era dashboard is pretty faithful. Conceptually, I love the brisk minimalism of this layout. There’s no “center stack” to speak of; All physical buttons are contained in a tiny mail slot beneath the enormous dashboard screen, a 9.5-inch disc claimed to be the first circular OLED display in a production vehicle. You’ll use your old-fashioned digits to twist the engine-start switch (a skeuomorphic callback to an ignition key), flip from Reverse to Drive, toggle through drive modes, or—thank heavens—change the stereo volume. For everything else, you’ll have to smudge up that dinner-plate-sized screen.

2025 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman First Drive Review

This is where “charismatic simplicity” starts to fray. Cramming the speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, stereo settings, climate controls, nav system and god knows what else into one overstuffed display screen ends up being more jarring than charming. Plus, throughout my drive, the touchscreen was laggy and the GPS consistently ran a few seconds behind—not what you want when you’re the only tourist holding up traffic in the spiderweb center of an unfamiliar town.

I’m willing to blame some of the screen snags on pre-production software and spotty cellular connectivity. But even in tip-top shape, much rests on the display disk’s bezel-less shoulders.

Mini is all about personalizing your ride. That used to come via hood stripes and roof-sized Union Jacks, but with the new Countryman, the tweaks are digital. Hence the eight drive modes—each of which splashes a new font and color scheme across the display, adjusts the ambient interior lighting, and plays a little ditty to let you know whether you’re in Vivid, Core, Green, Timeless, Balance, Personal, Trail, or Go Kart mode. (Thankfully, the driver’s head-up display keeps showing your speed and GPS while the center screen does this whole dance.)

2025 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman First Drive Review

Cons: Dinner-Plate-Sized Screen, Electrically Numb Steering, Big And Heavy

The Countryman is Mini’s volume model, meant to duke it out among all the other high-riding utility five-doors that have taken over the US car market like invasive species. A line from the press release gives away the game: “With its increased versatility and dimensions, the all-new Mini Countryman is now classified as a SUV in the US market.” The previous Countryman, at least in the eyes of the US EPA, was a midsize car.

For lots of complex reasons, it’s beneficial to Mini to have the Countryman classified as an SUV. Getting there required making the model bigger and heavier, as well as giving it SUV-worthy ground clearance. That’s pretty antithetical to the whole Mini thing. It’s impressive that the company was able to coax some charisma out of such a package, even if the execution isn’t quite so simple.

Competitors

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *