The 2018 MINI Countryman Cooper is now powered by a 134-horsepower, 1.5L 3-cylinder engine. Transmissions remain a choice between a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic. Standard equipment includes such technology as rain-sensing wipers, panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control
The upgraded Countryman is the 'S' model. Starting at just under $30,000. The engine offered is a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine making 189 horsepower and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Upgraded equipment on the S includes 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and fog lights and adaptive suspension dampers. The S is also available with MINI's ALL4 all-wheel drive.
The new-for-2018 Countryman S E plug-in hybrid combines the 1.5L 3-cylinder engine at the front and an 87-horsepower electric motor at the rear wheels. This combination is good for 221 horsepower. The Countryman S E can go for 12 miles on electric power and afterwards is good for 27 mpg.
MINI offers an array of equipment packages are available to personalize the Countryman. The Convenience Package includes a rear armrest, vehicle alarm, cargo divider and cargo area flip-out seating cushion. The Premium Package offers power-adjustable front seats, a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system and hands-free power liftgate. The Technology package delivers a touchscreen-based navigation system, heads-up display, wireless phone charging and an automated parallel parking system. Dynamic suspension dampers are available as well, a feature usually found on higher-end BMW models.
Within MINI culture, the name 'John Cooper' is synonymous with performance driving. MINI offers appearance and packages for both the interior and exterior of the Countryman. They include JCW-branded steering wheel, sport seats, special 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, additional stability control choices and aerodynamic upgrades. A dedicated John Cooper Works trim offers legitimate performance upgrades in the form of an enhanced version of the turbo 2.0L engine, tuned to make 228 horsepower, with upgraded exhaust, Brembo brakes, sport-tuned suspension and launch control.
Other available customization options allow the driver to pick from an almost dizzying array of 19-inch wheels, bonnet stripes, roof and mirror caps and a range of interior accent trims.
A dash of horsepower goes a long way, especially in a car that felt underpowered from the get-go. That's the case with the 2020 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman compact crossover. But power is only part of the equation, and there's only so much that can be solved by piling on the motive force. While the spiciest Countryman on offer does give me a lot to like, there are parts of the experience that leave me a little less impressed.
One of Mini's most compelling traits is its design. That bubbly brand of quirky fun is on full display in the 2020 JCW Countryman. It's a little blobby on the outside, thanks to the Countryman's more upright nature, but it's still an eye-grabber that doesn't resemble much else on the road. The John Cooper Works models ramp up the looks even further through some clever elements, such as the additional badging, unique wheels and my tester's fun two-tone getup.
Character isn't in short supply inside, either. In fact, its lighthearted look is one of the most compelling reasons to consider BMW's (sorta) British sibling. The steering wheel is chunky, and the gauge pod behind it is funky, offering up just enough information with an additional trip-meter screen at the bottom. The dashboard's massive circular pod houses the latest version of the Mini Connected infotainment system -- which is basically just a reskinned BMW iDrive -- but my absolute favorite part of any Mini is the switchgear, which is modeled after aviation controls and is surprisingly fun to flick. The dashboard is kind of long, though, which means I really have to reach to adjust the mirror, a lone frustration in an otherwise pleasant cabin.
The Good ~ Charlie Hustle acceleration ~ Compact enough for the city ~ Fun design
The Bad ~ Not the most sure-footed ~ Surprisingly expensive ~ Common options notably absent
The Bottom Line As the 2020 Mini JCW Countryman encroaches on BMW's price territory, some flaws come to light.
Mini said it already built concepts for the electric performance car, but the internal-combustion engine isn't going away just yet.
It's definitely not what we'd expect from Mini, but that's not necessarily a good thing.
The recall documents also warn against using Sport mode or the shift paddles.
Mini's third-generation Hardtop sendoff packs more power, better handling and sharper looks. But it's not the pocket rocket we were hoping for.
Engine, head gasket and transmission issues stood out for 11 vehicles, and each model often experienced problems around the same mileage.
The Countryman's refresh isn't a major mechanical overhaul, but the aesthetic changes are welcome.
More than 300 horsepower in a compact crossover? Yep, it'll scoot.