2020 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman review: Imperfect fun

    Mini’s funky face appears to be like slightly weirder on the Countryman, if solely due to how tall it’s in contrast with different Mini automobiles.
    Andrew Krok/Roadshow
    A splash of horsepower goes a great distance, particularly in a automobile that felt underpowered from the get-go. That’s the case with the 2020 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman compact crossover. But energy is just a part of the equation, and there is solely a lot that may be solved by piling on the driving force. While the spiciest Countryman on provide does give me so much to love, there are elements of the expertise that go away me rather less impressed.

    LikeCharlie Hustle accelerationCompact sufficient for the cityFun design

    Don’t LikeNot essentially the most sure-footedSurprisingly expensiveCommon choices notably absent

    One of Mini’s most compelling traits is its design. That bubbly model of quirky enjoyable is on full show within the 2020 JCW Countryman. It’s slightly blobby on the skin, because of the Countryman’s extra upright nature, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an eye-grabber that does not resemble a lot else on the highway. The John Cooper Works fashions ramp up the appears to be like even additional by means of some intelligent components, resembling the extra badging, distinctive wheels and my tester’s enjoyable two-tone getup.Character is not briefly provide inside, both. In reality, its lighthearted look is without doubt one of the most compelling causes to think about BMW’s (sorta) British sibling. The steering wheel is chunky, and the gauge pod behind it’s funky, providing up simply sufficient data with a further trip-meter display screen on the backside. The dashboard’s large round pod homes the newest model of the Mini Connected infotainment system — which is mainly only a reskinned BMW iDrive — however my absolute favourite a part of any Mini is the switchgear, which is modeled after aviation controls and is surprisingly enjoyable to flick.  The dashboard is type of lengthy, although, which implies I actually have to succeed in to regulate the mirror, a lone frustration in an in any other case nice cabin.

    While hidden storage is perhaps briefly provide, because of a small glove compartment and an excellent tinier middle armrest, that does not imply there aren’t spots to retailer your stuff. The two cubbies within the middle console will maintain bins of nitrile gloves or telephones simply high-quality, and the door pockets are lots capacious, which is sweet as a result of the cup holders have bother accommodating large-format water bottles like Nalgenes. Second-row storage choices are restricted, as is the cargo capability, to be trustworthy — 17 cubic toes is on the low aspect for a crossover, though it is sufficient to carry a month’s price of groceries for 2 folks.Not the whole lot contained in the Mini JCW Countryman’s cabin works for the driving force, although. In addition to small issues just like the mirror being midway to a different time zone, I want to speak in regards to the seats for a second. While the lateral assist is ace, the seat-bottom cushioning isn’t the nice type of agency. There’s additionally the matter of choices. A well-optioned JCW Countryman can push north of $50,000, but the seats nonetheless require guide adjustment. That’s not enjoyable and quirky, that is dumb and low cost.

    Thankfully, a fast press of the engine begin button is all it takes to gloss over Mini’s inside missteps. JCWs are programmed for noise, and the Countryman isn’t any exception, its 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 barking to life with extra basso profundo than a small automobile ought to rightfully possess. This four-pot now places out 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, boosting every determine by 71 over the earlier iteration. Those newfound gobs of energy make themselves apparent always. Putt round city, and a squeeze of the ol’ proper pedal will produce ample low-down torque for passing something in need of a bullet prepare. At larger speeds, there’s simply… extra pace. More than you will ever want, and greater than the native constabulary would favor.

    Leave it in Comfort mode, and the exhaust will calm down at larger speeds. Flip the mode swap to Sport, although, and the automobile cranks up the amount (no less than partially synthetically) with barks and overrun burbles aplenty, which sadly additionally creates a ton of engine drone over 55 mph.I first skilled Mini’s eight-speed automated transmission within the JCW Clubman, and it is exactly as glorious there as it’s within the JCW Countryman. No matter the mode, the 8AT will slap by means of shifts with the utmost precision. When I’m actually caning it, the transmission feels as critical as any dual-clutch on the market, nevertheless it settles into a pleasant, clean groove at pedestrian paces. The front-biased all-wheel-drive system solely provides up a smidgeon of torque steer, and solely once you catch it with its pants down. Otherwise, the AWD works commendably, offering the suitable forces to the suitable tires within the identify of sustaining traction.The JCW Countryman’s experience high quality is vexing. Whereas the low-slung JCW Clubman was merely stiff on a regular basis no matter car mode, its crossover cousin delivers tautness and slop in equal doses. I’m blaming this on a few elements. First, the Countryman carries its weight larger than the Clubman, and second, there is a bit extra suspension journey on this compact crossover. The result’s a experience that wavers between stiff and floaty, by no means actually giving me the nook confidence that the Clubman did. If you actually wish to get essentially the most from the John Cooper Works lineup, I’d extremely counsel choosing a extra grounded mannequin (actually).The JCW Countryman’s four-pot has an entire bunch of kick, nevertheless it’s not mated to essentially the most surefooted car on this case.
    Andrew Krok/Roadshow
    When I’m not whipping the Countryman round, although, it returns some rattling first rate gas economic system. The EPA estimates the JCW Countryman will hit 23 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 30 mpg on the freeway, however a light-weight foot brings me nearer to 25 within the metropolis and 32 on the freeway, which is a pleasant shock. The window sticker would possibly shake you till all of the money falls out of your pockets, however no less than the gas tank will not.Mini’s in-car tech is usually carried over from its dearer BMW siblings to good, however not excellent impact. Living inside that LED-lit ring on the dashboard is a pared-back model of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. A 6.5-inch display screen is commonplace on the bottom mannequin, however my top-tier trim carries an 8.8-inch display screen. The show is perhaps broad, nevertheless it’s not very tall, and it takes a slender (and regular) finger to make sure you truly faucet the icon or menu that you really want. It makes for one tiny backup digicam picture, too. Mini’s telematics setup additionally lacks a correct house display screen that shows a number of issues without delay — one of the best you get is a split-screen structure that additional condenses the visible actual property. As with different BMW and BMW-adjacent vehicles, Apple CarPlay is on provide however Android Auto isn’t but. I do not assume anybody is shopping for a Mini for its in-car tech, however nonetheless, a bigger and extra detailed system can be good to see on a $50,000 automobile, even when it is based mostly on a $28,000 one.Safety options are additionally on the restricted aspect. An excellent quantity come commonplace, together with rear parking sensors, automated emergency braking and automated headlights. If you wish to pile on as a lot driver-assistance tech as doable, it’s going to solely value you $850 so as to add adaptive cruise management, entrance parking sensors and a head-up show. That value sounds good, however in order for you something above that — say, blind-spot monitoring or lane-keep help — you will have to purchase a special automobile totally. I can get BSM on a freakin’ Miata these days, and that automobile would not even have blind spots; there is no cause it should not be accessible on a compact crossover, particularly one which’s midway to 100 grand. Charging is not briefly provide, although, with my tester providing two USB ports (one USB-A, one USB-C) within the entrance row and one other pair of USB-C retailers for rear seat passengers.Trying to precisely contact the Countryman’s display screen at pace is tough at greatest. Everything’s so darn tiny!
    Andrew Krok/Roadshow
    The 2020 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman would not actually have a lot competitors. The Clubman JCW can do battle with the VW Golf Rs and Honda Civic Type-Rs (Types-R? Civics Type-R?) of the world, however there aren’t any hopped-up CR-V or Tiguan variants kicking round. Instead, the Mini’s greatest competitor is looking from inside the home — the BMW X2 M35i prices about $5,000 extra however is slightly greater and extra capacious. It additionally would not endure from the identical bizarre on-road demeanor because the JCW Countryman, and the infotainment tech feels extra suited to the worth tag.If you are all about quirky enjoyable, the 2020 Mini JCW Countryman provides actually distinctive styling and an interesting powertrain. It’s not low cost, though elements of it undoubtedly really feel that method, and it may not provide essentially the most performance-oriented connection between the physique and the highway, nevertheless it’s properly suited to city environments and can go away you grinning after each smash of the fuel pedal.

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