2024 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman Crosses the SUV Gap

Jackson Wheeler
9 Min Read

  • There’s a new Mini John Cooper Works Countryman. In addition to a bigger name, it has a bigger body: 14.6 feet long, six feet wide, and five and a half feet tall. It’s big.
  • So big, in fact, that it’s classified as an SUV.
  • Pricing starts at $47,895; deliveries begin in May.

Hard to imagine that the once-dinky Mini, chosen as a getaway car by bank robber Michael Caine in The Italian Job because it was so small and nimble that he could drive it through a Torino sewer pipe, would one day grow so big that the EPA would classify it as an SUV.

The new Countryman is, indeed, big, more than five inches longer and four inches taller than the previous model. It’s also somewhere around 100 pounds heavier, at what might work out to be over 3800 pounds when they do the final numbers.

That’s a far cry from the gold-robbing getaway vehicles led by Caine through the streets and stairways of Turin 55 years ago. But the whole world’s gone nuts for crossovers and SUVs, so it was inevitable.

Thank goodness, you might then say, for the John Cooper Works ALL4 Countryman. That model has all the room you’re likely to need, even if you’re not robbing Italian banks, to conduct the daily rituals of suburban living while not giving up the quantifiable good times that come with driving a Mini.

At 14.6 feet long, six feet wide, and five and a half feet tall, it’ll hold all the gold bars you and your friends can steal from the Torino Mafia (last TIJ reference, I swear) or, more likely, as many jumbo groceries as your Costco membership allows.

Power comes from the same recently refined 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four shared with the ute’s BMW siblings. By combining gasoline direct injection with port injection, it crams more fuel and air into the revised combustion chambers than before, boosting peak output to 312 hp (+11 hp) in US-spec cars, but lowering peak torque to 295 lb-ft (-36 lb-ft).

That thrust is routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that can shift with different personalities according to several drive modes available.

Since Mini is owned by BMW, the new JCW Countryman and the X1 and X2 share a front-wheel-drive platform that can also accommodate AWD, which is the drive configuration of the car I got to drive for the afternoon.

AWD is also the final requirement for SUV status, and while you’re not likely to see any owners out four-wheelin’ in the desert, you can feel more secure driving to your favorite ski area when the pow is piling higher than you’ll be once you get to the ski chalet’s condo hot tub.

I held on and prayed to the icons of the many saints that lined the road through western Portugal.

I had no pow on my Mini drive. Instead I got a deluge of rain that would have had Noah questioning his faith. AWD might have been helpful in that weather, but paddles and a lifeboat might have been more appropriate. Infrared goggles would have been nice, too. At some points I had to drive by faith alone.

Grasping the Mini’s small-diameter, fat-rimmed steering wheel, I held on and prayed to the icons of the many saints that lined the road through western Portugal. Dodging fallen trees and loose branches scattered across the twisting country roads, the Countryman felt responsive enough, but I couldn’t tell for sure given the rainfall.

Later, when I handed the car over to my driving partner, the skies cleared, the sun shone and the traffic mysteriously disappeared (those saints knew whom to favor). From the passenger seat in the dry, the car felt fast and firm.

You can play around with numerous drive modes accessible through a couple different means. Mini doesn’t call them drive modes, though—they are “experiences.” Oy. Luckily you can use a toggle on the center stack to go straight to “Go-Kart” mode for the most fun.

A separate menu full of more modes, er, experiences, is available through the ginormous and distracting 9.5-inch diameter OLED touchscreen that dominates the center of the dash and replaces even an instrument panel in front of the driver.

Yes, there’s no IP on which to see speed, tach, or even a gas gauge. You have to look at and appreciate the design-heavy circular info-spinning OLED to know what’s going on. Mini owners probably love this stuff, including the 30 different sounds that accompany them all and beep and boop almost constantly, but I didn’t really fancy them.

You even have to go into a submenu to cancel the beeping, bonging speed limit warning that defaults to “on.” This might be a deal-killer for some buyers.

Is all of this a good thing? I myself wish Mini had just taken the Urbanaut microvan concept and gone straight into production. I for sure would have bought one of those. If VW is going to make the minivan cool again with the all-electric ID. Buzz, Mini could make the whole world minivan fans with the Urbanaut.

I pestered BMW Board Member Jochen Goller at several points during my BMW/Mini adventure. “Come on, man,” I pleaded, trying not to sound like a crazy person. “Mini could be a true style leader, introducing one segment of the buyership to the practical cool of a minivan, while reminding all those Baby Boomer Yuppies about the split-window Volkswagen vans they drove in the ‘60s and ‘70s!”

2024 mini john cooper works countryman interiorVIEW PHOTOS


2024 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman instrument panel.

He politely reminded me, in the same reassuring and calming tone you use talking to a monkey holding a bazooka, that a car needs a workable business plan to be approved for production.

So, no Urbanaut. Instead, you get the increasingly larger and less-Mini-like Countryman, storing the 32-packs of paper towels, while clinging desperately to the fading notion of a fun-to-drive car that is getting fatter every time it’s renewed.

Should Mini have made a crossover? Extrapolate in the comments.

Headshot of Mark Vaughn

Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there. This was his introduction to objective automotive criticism. He started writing for City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of a car magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided Auto should cover Formula 1, sports prototypes and touring cars—no one stopped him! From there he interviewed with Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt motor show and has been with us ever since.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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