You might have noticed that Mini is rather optimistic when it comes to expanding its lineup. Add wheelbase to a Cooper = new model. Add a convertible top to a Cooper = new model. Remove rear seats from a Cooper = new model. Of the “new models” created by the lighthearted people of Mini, the Countryman is actually substantially different, larger and more robust than the well-known Cooper variants, and more comfortable for Things Three and Four, if not Five.
With the Countryman, Mini creates the very definition of a crossover vehicle. Blending the attributes of a hatchback, station wagon, and an SUV, the Countryman is any of these things, depending on how it is configured. And now, you might as well throw “sports wagon” into the mix, thanks to the addition of the Mini Countryman John Cooper Works ALL4 model to the lineup.
Mini characterizes the John Cooper Works ALL4 as the one stuck in “high-performance beast mode.” Remember, this company loves hyperbole. This new version of the Countryman isn’t a “high-performance beast,” unless, of course, you drive it right after stepping out of a standard Countryman. Compared to that wimpy 121-horsepower model, which accelerates to highway speeds in just a little less time than it takes for the driver’s hair to go completely gray (hyperbole!), the Countryman JCW’s power and performance are impressive.
I’ll be right up front about something. I am a huge Mini Cooper fan. If I could bring myself to sell my Mazdaspeed Miata, I’d likely swap it for a Clubman S. I hadn’t driven a Countryman yet, though. So at a recent media event, where this Absolute Black and Chili Red John Cooper Works model availed itself, I scooted off into the desert for a quick spin in the closest thing to an enthusiast-tuned family hauler that Mini offers.