• ALL4 four-wheel-drive system standard
  • First JCW Mini offered with automatic gearbox
  • Will go on sale in Fall 2012

For a long time, the words "sporty" and "4x4" typically didn't show up in the same sentence, let alone next to each other. But in the recent past, brands have been turning that convention on its head with cars like the Range Rover Sport and M-badged X5s and X6s. Mini, who prides itself as a brand that constantly challenges the norm, has now joined the fold with its already-unconventional 4x4, the Countryman.

For those that don't follow motor sports, the Countryman has been tearing up forests, deserts, and mountains all over the world as part of the World Rally Championship, and even saw action in this year's Dakar Rally. Mini is now taking the expertise it's gained from those ventures and making it available for the streets. At the heart of the new John Cooper Works Countryman is the 211-horsepower engine featuring a turbocharger with an overboost function that can temporarily boost output to 221 horsepower. Routing the power to the road is a six-speed manual transmission, or for the first time ever in a JCW car, a six-speed automatic. In order to keep all that power paired with useful traction, the JCW Countryman also comes standard with ALL4 all-wheel drive.

Also helping with the control end of the spectrum is a standard sport suspension with stiffer springs and lower ride height, helping to keep the four tires on whatever sort of terrain you're subjecting the car to. Those tires wrap a standard 18-inch wheel made specifically for the JCW Countryman, but 19-inch wheels can be ordered as well.

Inside, the car gets the standard John Cooper Works touches, like red contrast stitching on black cloth or leather. Typically donning the outside of John Cooper Works cars, Cilli Red is also available for the inside of the JCW Countryman, adding a flash of color to the interior. Of course, the exterior of the car has also been beefed up to match its sporting intentions, with new front and rear bumpers and lower side skirts.

What it means to you: Mini's at it again, taking its unconventional 4x4, the Countryman, and making a sporty off-roader.

author photo

Tom Cassady comes from a family that has been present in the automotive industry for generations, sowing the car enthusiast seed at a young age. When he's not tracking the industry, Tom likes to run, eat buffalo wings, play soccer and partake in the finest of brown spirits.

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