It turns out not a lot. Our JCW Countryman has soldiered through a lot this winter already. But operating at -23F (-31C) is a new trick it. We’ve all seen the spy-shots of MINIs and BMWs testing in the Arctic Circle under extreme conditions. This week in Chicago, that’s basically what has been happening. And from that experience I have a few observations.

JCW countryman
JCW countryman
This is what a JCW Countryman looks like at -23F

1. Even new cars start a bit slow. Yup the Countryman starts just fine. But at -23F with a -50F windchill it’s not happy nor quick to spring into action.

2. Creaks are everywhere. It feels as if the most of the car has just woke from hibernation when you first start it at these temps.

3. Heated seats don’t even register at -23F. You’re convinced the only heat you feel for the first five minutes was brought with you from inside.

4. MINI’s interface wasn’t designed for giant gloves. Unlike American trucks, MINI designers didn’t give much consideration to huge fingered gloves pushing buttons. But you make it work because you do not want to take off a glove to change the radio.

5. The washer jets front and back have been frozen solid since the temps hit 0F earlier this week. We’ve notice they freeze at higher temps (5F) while driving at highway speeds.

6. Even lubrication doesn’t like cold. The transmission needs to be warmed up by gently moving through the gears and the clutch (which doesn’t get springy for awhile in these temps) needs to be depressed a few times to get the lubrication flowing.

All told our Countryman has performed adirmaby given the extreme conditions. However there is one option that we would highly recommend for this type of climate – a remote start.