New Mini Countryman JCW: hot MINI's larger, lardier cousin returns with 296bhp | CAR Magazine

New Mini Countryman JCW: hot MINI's larger, lardier cousin returns with 296bhp

Published: 09 November 2023 Updated: 10 November 2023

► New 2024 Mini Countryman is here
► New JCW model produces 296bhp, 295lb ft
► Priced from around £42k

MINI has revealed the biggest, baddest version of its new Countryman, ahead of the model’s global launch next year. The MINI Countryman JCW (John Cooper Works) will be the hottest version of the Countryman SUV when it launches with a similar formula to its predecessor – pairing a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with ALL4 four-wheel drive and a sporting suspension setup.

For the latest Countryman JCW, that engine pushes out 296bhp and 295lb ft, providing a 0-62mph sprint of 5.4 seconds. That makes it marginally less powerful than the old car, which was capable of 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds. Top speed is an electronically limited 155mph.

The Countryman’s power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (the old car used an eight-speed torque converter) to all four wheels. The wheels in question are 19- or 20-inch alloys, larger and wider than the previous model’s.

MINI Countryman JCW -interior

Visually, there’s plenty to mark it out as a JCW. Bespoke bumpers front and rear contain vertical reflectors, and new LED lights flank an octagonal grille in glossy black. The red and black colour scheme is typical JCW, and extends to a newly-designed C-pillar. Those colours continue on the inside, with a two-tone dash, sports seats and ‘atmospheric’ ambient lighting.

It’ll cost from around £42,000 in the UK, comfortably undercutting the Volkswagen T-Roc R, Cupra Formentor 310 or BMW X1 M135i.

Read more about the new MINI Countryman below…

New MINI Countryman revealed

The new Mini Countryman has been unveiled ahead of its world debut at next week’s IAA Munich motor show – and the big news is there’ll be a fully electric version this time round for the third generation.

As with the regular Mini hatchback, buyers will be able to choose from combustion or electric vehicle (EV) derivatives, as parent group BMW continues to hedge its bets in the great energy transformation remoulding the car industry. 

The 2024 Mini Countryman grows up, as the designers aim to broaden its appeal among families and those wanting more accommodation: it’s a significant 13cm longer and 6cm taller, freeing up more room for luggage and limbs onboard.

2024 Mini Countryman rear

Bootspace stands at 480 litres (+30 over its predecessor), stretching to 1450 if you flop the adjustable rear backrests down.

2024 Mini Countryman: the lowdown

The new compact crossover lands in UK showrooms in February 2024, priced from £28,500 for the least powerful petrol-powered Mini Countryman C. Three different petrol powertrains will be offered from launch:

  • Mini Countryman C £28,500, 168bhp/207lb ft, 0-62mph 8.3sec, 132mph top speed, 138-155g/km CO2
  • Mini Countryman S £33,900, All4 215bhp/266lb ft, 0-62mph 7.1sec, 142mph top speed, 155-169g/km CO2
  • Mini Countryman JCW All4 £41,520, 296bhp/295lb ft, 0-62mph 5.4sec, 155mph top speed, 177-188g/km CO2
2024 Mini Countryman side profile

Notice the absence of any diesel powertrains, which have not been developed this time around, as the world gradually turns its back on derv engines. In fact, nor are there any manual transmissions; it’s auto only for the Countryman this time round (insert sad face emoji if you’re a fan of DIY gears).

Three trim levels will be offered in the UK: Classic, Exclusive and Sport.

Design: a bigger kind of crossover

Key to expanding the appeal of the Countryman is its swollen stance. It’s a more challenging design than the new Mini hatchback’s, also unveiled officially at the Munich motor show; where that car focuses on purer, simpler styling, the SUV maintains its slightly awkward Mini-meets-SUV character while stretching way past 4.4 metres in length. This is not an especially graceful crossover.

2024 Mini Countryman D-pillar

Note the heavily stylised C-pillar featuring a contrast-colour panel – an attempt to remove some of the visual heft of the side profile. It’s fooling no-one. See the Countryman in the metal and you’ll quickly recognise this is a much bigger car – though it’s worth remembering that this growth spurt will free up space for the rightsized, 4m-long Mini Aceman later in 2024.

Where the Mini hatch loses its black plastic wheelarch surrounds, the Countryman keeps its perimeter cladding, in line with its more rugged, crossover character. Choice of alloy wheels stretches from 17in to 20in, depending on spec and powertrain.

An electric Mini Countryman: meet the new EV

A pair of electric Mini Countrymans are available with the 2024 relaunch, carrying a chunky premium that positions even the cheapest model some way north of the most powerful JCW petrol. Both are powered by the same 65kWh battery pack:

  • Mini Countryman Electric E £41,500, 201bhp/184lb ft, 0-62mph 8.6sec, 105mph, 287-mile range
  • Mini Countryman Electric SE All4 £46,600, 309bhp/364lb ft, 0-62mph 5.6sec, 111mph
Electric Mini Countryman: charging port

It’s a canny move to offer all fuels to all customers. Although pricey to engineer, the smorgasbord of powertrain choice should expand the appeal of the new 2024 Mini Countryman range and stretches BMW’s footprint into new niches. Note that the electric Countryman is actually based on a different platform to the hatchback EV (developed with China’s Great Wall).

The new generation of Countryman will be built in Germany this time. BMW’s Leipzig plant was opened in March 2005 and currently makes the 1-series, 2-series Gran Coupe and 2-series Active Tourer – all of which run on the UKL platform used by both BMW and Mini. It’s the first time BMWs and Minis have ran on the same production line.

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The interior

Step inside the new Mini Countryman and the interior is largely carried over from the new hatchback. It’s a back-to-basics approach that strips out some of the complexity of earlier BMW-era Mini cabins and simplifies everything in one giant, 240mm-diameter round instrument pack.

2024 Mini Countryman interior

Instead of trying to shoe-horn rectangular digital read-outs into a circle, this time the whole OLED display is optimised to be circular, with navigation and apps designed in the round. Owners can flick between different modes, choosing sporty or retro typefaces for speedo and dials – and the whole interior is bathed in a choice of colours at nighttime, as projectors flash a light show across the textile dashboard in the dark. It’s pretty cool. 

We’ve sat inside and tried it, and can confirm it’s a giant leap forwards from what went before – albeit with a heavy emphasis on the digital experience. Witness the Mini Sounds feature, with a Mini jingle and 30 new noises for info and warning functions. You’ll either love it or reach for the earplugs pronto. 

Techno, techno, techno

The new Mini Countryman architecture comes with the latest software packs to premiere some new tricks: self-parking that can drive the car in or out of a specially tight space itself; hands-off autonomous driving at speeds of up to 37mph; and ‘Hey Mini’ voice-activated infotainment, complete with the Spike personal puppy assistant to operate nav, phone and entertainment systems. 

2024 Mini Countryman rear three quarters

With Mini’s younger demographic, BMW is banking on the youthful digital heart of this car striking a chord – and the latest Android-based OS9 is shot through with Mini’s trademark joie de vivre.

We’ll be poring all over the Mini Countryman at its IAA world debut, so come back for more detail in the coming days.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words