BMWBLOG First Drive: MINI JCW Countryman

When MINI released the Countryman in early 2010, some enthusiasts of the brand called foul. MINI producing a larger 4-door appeared practically sacrilegious – it was the unthinkable – like Ferrari making an all-wheel drive sports activities vehicle (Achhem: the Ferrari FF). Apparently guidelines are meant to be broken. In the approach of rule breaking, not only are sterotypes defeated, but at times excellent new products surface.

I was amongst the initial to drive MINI’s spicy new version of the Countryman – in truth, it was nevertheless in prototype form with swirly stickers over components of the physique function, but the mechanical details had been near sign-off. While we have been currently content with the dynamics of the Countryman S model, the JCW takes back-road blasts to a whole new degree. We expect the Countryman JCW edition to go on sale in the North American marketplace in the 2nd half of this year.

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Commencing with the Countryman S as a baseline, the JCW version adds a number of technical modifications, commencing with the suspension. The new JCW version sports a suspension lowered by 10 mm, with slightly stiffer spring prices and stiffer anti-roll bars, now measuring 22 mm and 17 mm front and rear. The common wheel size will measure 17 inches, with bigger wheels obtainable as an selection. The rear brakes have also grown by 16 mm to 296 mm (16″), which ought to decrease understeer while braking into a corner.

The suspension is burdened with a one,460 kg (3,220 lb) curb excess weight, a far cry from the unique MINI’s 616 kg (one,360 lb), nonetheless the Countryman JCW serves up curvy-street moves that would suggest it carries much less excess weight than the scales verify. The Countryman JCW might weigh twice as a lot as its ancestral forefather, but it is also far more than twice its dimension, and at least ten times far more sensible.

The exact same six speed manual as located in the Countryman S model will be the stand-alone transmission featured in the JCW – the 6 speed manual being the weapon of decision for people who appreciate an engaging drive. The three pedal option was a joy to drive with precise engagement and quick throws of the stick. Pedal placement was a bit difficult for heel-and-toe downshifting with the brake and gas pedals just a tick also far apart. A wider floor-hinged accelerator pedal would improve the predicament, and considering the driving habits of JCW cliental, this detail is much more substantial than in autos with a less sporting pedigree. The clutch pedal was a touch light for a hardened sports car, but MINI was quick to emphasize that the Countryman JCW aims to please its owner as a properly-rounded day-to-day driver. Porsche 911 ranges of clutch resistance would likely deter several likely consumers from signing on the dotted line, so a compromise was found someplace down the middle.

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On to the engine division, the brilliant 1.six liter single twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder identified in the ‘S’ model has been massaged with Valvetronic variable valve lift identified normal, along with direct injection. MINI has taken items a phase more by remapping the ECU and tweaking the mechanicals to generate a significant improve in electrical power. The existing 1.6 liter JCW engine as discovered in the Cooper JCW generates 208 hp, and the Countryman JCW’s output jumps to 211 hp. This is a staggering figure for a 1.six liter, supplying up a precise output of 132 hp / liter. Torque has remained the identical from the prior engine’s 207 lb-ft, generating 221 lb-ft in between 2,one hundred and 5,200 rpm with over-improve. The exhaust note is surprisingly audible and baritone for a tiny displacement turbo 4-cylinder. We loved the growl this vehicle allow loose as it reminded us that we had been in a overall performance auto with out currently being too loud or obnoxious.

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Transferring all of this electrical power to the wheels is MINI’s standard issue “ALL4″ all-wheel-drive method. ALL4 is primarily based on MINI’s front-wheel drive drivetrain, but adds an electronically modulated power-consider-off differential sending twist to the rear wheels. Standard driving will see power sent solely to the front wheels, though through spirited blasts you could see as considerably as one hundred% of the electrical power routed to the front wheels, or 60% routed to the rear wheels – giving the vehicle a surprisingly rear-wheel drive really feel although accelerating out of corners. At 120 km/h the transfer case starts to tapper off the volume of power sent to the rear wheels, until finally the wet multi-plate clutch-pack is entirely opened at 140 km/h, rendering the automobile front-wheel-drive only above this speed for motives of fuel conservation.

So how does it drive? Carving along snow and ice-covered Alpine passes in the heart of Austria, the Countryman JCW clawed like a scared cat. Steering really feel and feedback is exceptional and not dumbed down by the electrical energy steering assist (replacing the hydraulic steering assist of yore). The electric help motor is mounted directly to the rack and can be dialed down by pressing the “Sport” button on the main console. In sport mode electrical assist is lessened by about 30% according to MINI engineers, as a result offering up raw details through the steering wheel – just the way we like it. Now if only BMW could replicate the feeling and feedback of this EPS across the entire BMW line. Sport mode also increases throttle pedal sensitivity, creating a a lot more eager drive encounter.

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The boosted engine electrical power, stiffer suspension settings, and all-wheel-drive program converge to supply a scintillating knowledge behind the wheel while prodding the car’s limits. Setting off on a snowy road the Countryman JCW rapidly discovered a quick clip and appeared to beg for much more throttle. Whereas all preceding MINI JCW goods featured front-wheel-drive, the Countryman JCW trumps all of them with its capability to place the power down by means of all 4 wheels – practically totally free of torque steer or understeer. With the dynamic stability control program (DSC) partially defeated, the Countryman JCW will happily electrical power slide by way of corners at conservative slip angles of about 10 to twenty degrees before “catching” the automobile and bringing it back in line. Turn the DSC fully off and you will have your very own version of MINI’s factory Globe Rally Championship race car, with hair-raising power slides a real possibility. We drove MINI’s new Coupe JCW back to back with the Countryman JCW, and for its more neutral handling, we would pick the Countryman as the ultimate JCW overall performance MINI – particularly if unfavorable road situations are in the equation.

Efficiency is outstanding in typical MINI vogue with common fuel consumption of 7.2 liters per one hundred kilometers / 39.2 mpg imp in the EU test cycle. US EPA figures are however to be announced. These figures are specifically extraordinary when in contrast against the Countryman JCW’s competitors from other marquees, especially the constantly thirsty Subaru WRX STI.

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The expense of admission is yet to be disclosed for the US and Canadian markets. Based mostly on present MINI pricing, we would expect the Countryman JCW to land somewhere amongst the high $ 30,000 and reduced $ 40,000 mark. This may possibly sound like a steep value tag, but our seat-of-the-pants-o-meter tells us that it might be funds nicely spent if you have a hankering for overall performance in a sensible four-door hatchback.

The MINI JCW Countryman made its 1st public appearance at the Geneva motor present.

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Unique thanks to Irvine MINI for their sponsorship of this vehicle evaluation. Irvine MINI is 1 of the premier dealerships in Orange County, Los Angeles, and the whole country. To book your appointment with their relaxed product sales team, click here. Hit the jump to leave a smile on their Facebook page.

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