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2025 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works First Drive: Bigger Isn't Better

The Mini Countryman gains size and grows up, but for the hi-po John Cooper Works version, is that a good thing?

2025 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works front three-quarter
  • Mini's new 2025 Countryman lineup kicks off with the 312-horsepower John Cooper Works variant, which goes on sale in May.
  • Bigger and heavier than its predecessor, in many ways, this Countryman is a Mini in name only.
  • Less powerful Countryman S and fully electric Countryman SE models will arrive later this year.

There's nothing Mini about the new Countryman, which, in 312-horsepower John Cooper works spec, is now 5.4 inches longer, 0.9 inch wider, 3.9 inches taller and, crucially, 148 pounds heavier than its already porky predecessor. Don't get us wrong, it still looks the part, with quirky interior details and a boxy, upright shape. But winding along narrow roads near the Portuguese coast, there's definitely a lack of pep in this new, embiggened Countryman's step. Sure, it's more grown-up and refined. But for a JCW Mini, that's not necessarily a good thing.

The 2025 Mini Countryman range — which officially drops the "Cooper" nomenclature that no one used anyway — arrives this May. In addition to the John Cooper Works version tested here, in the U.S., Mini will sell the less powerful gas-powered Countryman S, as well as the all-electric Countryman SE. The 2025 Countryman John Cooper Works starts at $47,895, including $995 for destination, meaning this Mini's price tag has grown, too.

2025 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works wheel

What do you get for nearly 50 grand? For starters, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that makes 312 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque — an additional 11 hp but 36 fewer lb-ft than before. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard, as is the brand's All4 all-wheel-drive system, and so-specced, Mini estimates the JCW Countryman can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. For what it's worth, the outgoing John Cooper Works Countryman could hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That's the penalty of this new car's added heft and loss of torque.

Mini loves to tout its cars' "go-kart" handling, yet this is notably absent in the new JCW Countryman. In its standard drive setting, the Countryman's steering is light and uncharacteristically vague. Yes, it weights up appreciably if you switch to the Mini's Sport setting, but even then, we miss the rambunctiously darty characteristics that made the older JCW Countryman so hilarious. This one just feels … dull.

The Countryman isn't all that quick to turn in and the dearth of road-level feedback is a big-time bummer. But at least the revised chassis doesn't result in the crashy ride quality that plagued the last-generation John Cooper Works model. U.S.-spec cars come with a choice of either 19- or 20-inch wheels, and while the JCW's ride is still firmer than what you'll find in other subcompact SUVs, even on the larger 20s, it's not all that bad. For reference, the Mini's corporate cousin — BMW's X2 M35i — is much worse. (More on that car in a couple of weeks.)

2025 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works driving

Meanwhile, the Countryman's seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is a champ, firing off quick, perfectly timed shifts accompanied by a cute little brapp from the exhaust. Steering wheel-mounted paddles are there should you desire to take matters into your own hands, but we prefer leaving this transmission to its own devices. At no point is the JCW Countryman ever in the wrong gear.

Perhaps Mini realizes the JCW isn't quite the same hooligan it once was, since the Countryman tries to provide cheeky bits of playfulness in other areas. There's loud (and fake) engine and exhaust noise piped into the cabin through the stereo, which we'll admit doesn't sound horrible, and without it, the turbo engine and exhaust just sound like a muffled kazoo.

There are a number of wooshy-swooshy gee-whiz sounds that accompany other parts of the cabin experience, like switching between drive modes via the toggle on the center console. The experience is backed up by swappable skins that show on the round infotainment screen, but goodness gracious the transitions between the different mode-specific designs are sluggish. The whole experience would be much cooler if there wasn't such a noticeable software delay.

2025 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works interior

Speaking of infotainment, the Countryman's circular OLED display doesn't just run a reskinned version of corporate parent BMW's iDrive software; the Mini multimedia display has a look and feel all its own, with bright colors, crisp fonts, and layouts for the navigation and menu screens that were clearly designed from the get-go to be viewed on a circular housing. Yes, you can also run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — wirelessly, natch — and it looks quite good integrated into the round screen.

Overall, the Countryman's cabin isn't too shabby, and the black-and-red getup that's specific to the John Cooper Works model looks fab. The fabric bits on the dashboard and doors are made from recycled polyester but feel a little rough to the touch, which is uncharacteristic for a product coming from the BMW Group. There are a bunch of hard plastics found throughout the interior, too.

But on the whole, the Countryman's cabin is comfy and spacious. Those increased dimensions pay dividends in passenger and cargo space, after all. Adults of all sizes won't have an issue getting comfortable in the front or back seats, and the Countryman's cargo hold is much larger than before: 56.2 cubic feet with the rear bench folded, compared to 47.6 cubes in the old model.

2025 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works rear three-quarter

A whole mess of personalization options will be available when the John Cooper Works Countryman goes on sale, as will larger feature bundles like a Driving Assistant Professional package that adds Level 2 autonomous driving capabilities, where the driver can take their hands off the steering wheel for limited amounts of time at speeds up to 37 mph. Fully loaded, you're looking at a JCW Countryman that falls somewhere between (deep breath) $55,000 and $60,000. That's a lot of cash for a Mini — especially one that ain't what it used to be.

Edmunds says

The Mini Countryman John Cooper Works doesn't have the same plucky verve it once did, but fans of the brand will no doubt appreciate this SUV's interior and tech enhancements. We don't know if this more mature approach really suits the John Cooper Works model specifically, but other Countryman variants are sure to be better to live with thanks to many of these enhancements. Just because the expensive JCW is kind of a hard sell doesn't mean all Countryman trims (Countrymen?) will be, too.