2013 Mini Cooper Countryman John Cooper Works All4 Wagon (1.6L 4-cyl. Turbo AWD 6-speed Manual) opt 6-speed Auto
Driven On 8/27/2013
Some might question the value of this souped-up version of the largest Cooper available, but there's no denying its invigorating performance, comfortable seats and mighty-for-Mini cargo capacity. If it weren't for the sticker shock, this might be the best Mini available.
PerformanceThe kind of above-average performance one expects of a Mini, especially the John Cooper Works version, is on display here. Good acceleration, braking, handling and driveability.
Quicker than compact SUV alternatives and comparable to other sport wagons, the JCW Countryman All4 provides enthusiastic acceleration even with an automatic and all-wheel drive.
With a firm pedal and quick response, the JCW brakes require a delicate touch, but they're plenty capable. It exhibited shorter-than-average stops in our testing.
The electric steering is direct and precise, yet the Countryman's longer wheelbase helps quell the twitchy nature of the smaller Mini models. As good as it gets for a sporty wagon.
It's well-known that the smaller Minis take turns like go-carts. But to find handling as good as this in a wagon is both unexpected and welcome. Above-average grip and stability.
Despite all the performance credentials, the JCW Countryman maintains a decent level of refinement and civility, unlike other high-performance Minis.
There are better off-roaders in this nebulous wagon/SUV segment. The Countryman does have good foul weather capability, but it won't like snow with these summer tires.
ComfortEven in the high-performance JCW version, the Countryman offers good comfort with excellent seats and a composed ride, but the cabin can get loud from engine and road noise.
We approve of the sporty, leatherette-covered bucket seats for their support, adjustability and comfort. Split-fold rear seats slide fore/aft but are tight for three across.
Like all Minis with run-flats, the Countryman has a taut ride, especially in JCW trim. But only the harshest surfaces and impacts present objectionable ride comfort issues.
Decent aerodynamics provide a cabin largely immune to wind noise, however the road noise from the summer tires often intrudes. Engine note is prevalent, but not overwhelming.
InteriorCompared to other Minis, the Countryman's interior has more normal and intuitive switches. Access and storage are good for a wagon, but a little small compared to those of compact SUVs.
Window switches and door locks are located on the doors, instead of the base of the center stack like on other Minis. The dainty infotainment controller has a steep learning curve.
Right-sized doors (four of them) and a comfortable seating height provide good access.
The Countryman inhabits a middle ground between small wagons, compact SUVs and large wagons. It's large enough for most people and most chores.
The chunky headrests and thick roof pillars cause some blindspots. Automatic Xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and rear parking sensors are available, but a rear camera is not.
There's 16.5 cu-ft of cargo room with all seats up, and 41.3 cu-ft with seats folded. Split-fold and sliding rear seats come standard.
ValueDespite the inevitable sticker shock of a high-performance John Cooper Works Mini, you get the build quality and competitive warranty that every Mini provides.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Mini vehicles have always shown a high build quality, though some plastics feel hollow and cheap for the price.
There's a long list of optional packages and features that many competitors include as standard or trim-level standard. It's easy to inflate the MSRP by $10,000 with options.
With the JCW's starting price of around $35,000 (about $13,000 more than the base Countryman) a buyer would really have to value the added performance. In fairness, it's substantial.
We came close to the EPA fuel economy estimate of 26 mpg Combined with our Countryman JCW All4 automatic. Exercise extreme prudence, and it might happen.
With a Basic/Powertrain warranty of 4 years/50,000 miles and 4 years of unlimited Roadside Assistance, the warranty terms are competitive.
Free scheduled maintenance is covered for 3 years/36,000 miles, which is unusual for this class. Plus, there's an unspoken camaraderie among Mini owners, if you care about that stuff.
Fun To DriveYou'd have to shop other European sport wagons to have as much fun as you can in this Countryman JCW All4. Dynamically, it's hard to beat, and its personality is over the top.
Unlike in other JCW-equipped Minis, this Countryman feels far less frenetic. It's livable for daily driving. It offers the best combo of utility and fun in the Mini lineup.
We love sport wagons and the Mini Countryman John Cooper Works All4 has all the boxes ticked: Sporty appearance, invigorating performance and true cargo-carrying capability.