The JCW dressings brings restyled bodywork and a more powerful engine to the Countryman’s repertoire, without detracting too significantly from its impressive ability as an alternative to other premium small SUV offerings.
Powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, the Countryman JCW produces 170kW and 350Nm (29kW/70Nm up from the Countryman Cooper S). This is sent through an on-demand all-wheel-drive transmission (an eight-speed automatic is standard, while a six-speed manual is a no cost option). 0-100km/h is completed in 6.5sec with either transmission.
Cost is $57,900 before on-roads costs and options are added.
- The turbo petrol engine is a gutsy unit, which delivers its power in a smooth linear fashion, although it does run out of puff slightly past 4,000rpm. Its acceleration is energetic without being anti-social while the whooshes of turbo noise and exhaust crackle adds a light-hearted character to the driving experience (even if it is a bit muffled inside the cabin).
- While hardcore driving enthusiasts will opt for the manual, 90 percent of Countryman JCW buyers will stick with the eight-speed automatic. It’s an intuitive unit, that doesn’t fall out of step with your desires as a driver, whether that is sedated cruising or a more throttle-heavy application. Gears are shifted smoothly, and the two extra ratios over the manual means the automatic is more rewarding with its power delivery in spirited driving.
- The adaptive dampers, which are a standard feature on the JCW Countryman, give it a diversity in ride which allows it to be a liveable prospect for everyday duties, while also holding its own in performance-orientated settings.
- The steering lacks the necessary feel to truly round out the package. There is a good weight to the wheel in sport and normal mode, but at times there is a disconnect between what the car is doing and feedback being transmitted to the driver.
- While the JCW sports seats provide good lateral support, they are on the firmer side. But there is plenty of space inside the Countryman’s cabin for four adults and associated luggage.
- It’s not a light beast, with the scales tipped at 1630kg.