Over the last few years, Mini has expanded its offerings in order to appeal to a broader audience. They saw a need for a bigger Mini to get people into showrooms, so the Countryman was born.
But it was Mini in name only. By size, it's a Medium Cooper. It seemed like a car that Mini's John Cooper Works performance division had no use for. Yet here it is, the Countryman John Cooper Works.
The John Cooper Works badge is saved for the creme de la creme of Mini's performance offerings. Each are equipped with a 218 horsepower version of Mini's turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But throwing that engine in the Countryman is like putting Dom DeLuise in a Roman chariot and thinking it'll still be really fast. It just won't be.
There are also a number of special trim pieces that push the price up quite high. For the British home market, the Austrian built car will cost £28,595. That's a lot.
It's not all bad. We like little all-wheel drive hot hatches around here, so perhaps this will be a nice alternative to the VW GTI. It also puts a more direct link to the Mini WRC program on the roads, which we're not against either.
But the John Cooper Works name is all about performance. Much like how BMW is diluting the M brand with random editions, Mini is diluting the John Cooper Works name. And guess what? BMW owns Mini.
It seems that even Mini knows this. Here's what they about the car:
Up to five seats introduce the famed handling characteristics and looks of John Cooper Works models to additional target groups in another new segment.
That makes this a lot less surprising. But what do you think? Is this hatch all marketing and talk and stickers, or is there something in it that actually fills you with lust?