A few months ago, Mini facelifted its Countryman SUV. You mightn’t have noticed because a) you had other stuff to worry about and b) its most tangible change seemed to be the addition of those Union Jack taillights that people overseas love, but which more left-leaning British buyers might feel a bit uneasy about.
Anyway, now’s the time for the John Cooper Works version, aka ‘the quick one’. And it really is the quick one: like the Clubman JCW and third-gen Mini GP before it, there’s now a mighty 302bhp being pumped out of its 2.0-litre turbo four.
Like the Clubman (though unlike the GP), it drives all four wheels, though as with both of those, an eight-speed paddleshifter is your only gearbox option. In an SUV-type thing, that’s probably just fine.
It also helps it hit 100kph in 5.1secs – down significantly on its predecessor’s 6.5secs – its acceleration “accompanied by the unmistakable sound of the sport exhaust system,” which now breathes through 95mm-larger tailpipes. Given those are the second change Mini lists in its bumf on the new Countryman JCW, we’d suggest beyond ‘more power’ and ‘louder noise’, it’s largely as before.
Prices start at £36,000, up around three grand on before, and hefty money for a Mini – given how easily you’ll add to that with options, adaptive damping among them – though small-fry in the world of the performance SUV, with perhaps its closest rival, the Cupra Ateca, costing exactly the same. Tempted by either?