Our First Take On The petrol powered, 312 HP Countryman JCW. New from the Inside Out.
The MINI Countryman JCW is a big deal for the brand. It’s also a big MINI. But it’s not even as big as it could have been. We uncovered that surprising fact along with many others talking directly with the designers and MINI employees that helped bring it to market. Here’s our first impressions of MINI’s new 312 hp JCW halo.
Since we mentioned size, let’s start with why has the Countryman grown. The answer is simple – that’s what the majority of customers are asking for. MINI has reams of data showing that current Countryman owners are leaving the brand due to sizing out of the car. And time and time again these customers are doing so very reluctantly. So MINI’s answer was to increase the size of the Countryman while introducing a new model to bridge the gap from the Cooper. That model is the electric Aceman which will have a footprint similar to the original R60 Countryman. That strategy was key for MINI being able to grow longer by over 5” and taller by 2”.
|R60 Countryman (’10-’16)||F60 Countryman (’17-’23)||U25 Countryman (’24-’32)|
|Length||4097 mm / 161.3 in||4298 mm / 169.2 in||4429 mm / 174.37 in|
|Height||1562 mm / 61.5 in||1557 mm / 61.3 in||1613 mm / 63.5 in|
|Wheelbase||2596 mm / 102.2 in||2670 mm / 105.1 in||2670 mm / 105.11 in|
It’s no secret that the U25 Countryman shares a platform with the BMW X1. However what we didn’t know is how it differs under the skin. When MINI Design evaluated the X1 platform they immediately realized that they needed to find a way to downsize it to better fit MINI proportions. More specifically the rear overhang had to shrink. The answer came in the form of leveraging the rear section of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (not a car we get in the US) and replacing what was there in the X1. The result are proportions that not only fit a MINI shape better but a reduction in weight where you really don’t want it.
To our eyes this increase in size is hidden by the proportions of this car as well as clever styling. That “blade” in the c-pillar? One reason it’s there is to break-up the length of the roof so it didn’t look like a tall station wagon.
The Design of the Countryman JCW
The 2025 Countryman JCW has plenty new colors, options and performance to talk about. However there is one thing sadly gone from the line-up. That’s Rebel Green which we had become accustom to as JCW’s signature color. That is replaced by a dark grey called Legend Grey.
These new colors underscore the fact that everything is new here. MINI designers were not tied in anyway to the BMW X1 despite sharing a platform. They were free to invent everything you see here and no visible parts are shared. One great high-ticket example is the windshield which most automakers would have shared to cut costs. Instead MINI created a deeper shape that gives the dashboard more clearance and the feeling of more space inside.
The more we inspected, poked and prodded the Countryman JCW the more subtle touches we began to notice. At first glance the roof seems very flat, a core MINI trait. But look closely and you see a curvature that we’ve never seen on a MINI before. Remember this car isn’t just a 312 hp petrol powered JCW, it also has to be ultra aero dynamic to maximize range on the EV versions. It turned out to be a critical detail in driving down the original drag coefficient of .34 all the way to an incredible .26.
You see evidence of this in the way the sides of the car taper to the back as well. The shapes which at first look like styling just for styling sake all have function built in and contribute to this aero efficiency.
Back to the front of the car you’ll notice that the Countryman JCW pictured here all have MINI’s LED Pro lights. While they’re not the matrix lights that European markets get, they look identical. Why no matrix lights for the US? While they are now technically legal, there’s still a mountain of regulatory work to be done to get them into the country and on options lists. However we were assured MINI USA is investigating this.
JCW Specific Design Touches
The JCW body kit available in Europe and the UK on all models will be exclusive to the JCW model itself in the US. That means you cannot get the JCW look without getting the full model. In our mind this is a great move by MINI USA as it creates exclusivity around that brand and the look.
The look is even more pronounced than before. The plastic wheel arches are gloss black where the standard car has unfinished plastic.That gloss black theme can been seen elsewhere. The grille is a mix if gloss and matte with convex and concave surfaces creating a unique dimensional design. The wheels, the belt line, and other aero elements also feature the finish. In start contrast is the Chili Red II on the launch car. It’s a more vibrant version of Chili Red than before and works really well with the Legend Grey (seen here) in person.
The 20” wheels are optional and look fantastic. Around them is gloss black wheel arches which are exclusive on the JCW and visually tied back to other exterior gloss black elements. Speaking of the grill it’s an interesting design that is asymmetrical and patterned after the new JCW logo. It also has a mix of matte and gloss black that, along with convex and concave surfacing, creates an interesting effect that we’ve never seen before.
MINI Countryman JCW Performance
While we have extensively reported on the JCW specs for the last two months, we were still surprised by a few things. The first were the brakes which MINI will offer two versions of for the first time. The standard brakes will come with 19” wheels and are essentially the same as we’ve seen previously on the F60 Countryman JCW. However if you opt for the 20” wheels you’ll get larger, ventilated discs as well as massive calipers which offers a larger swept surface. I’m told by people who have driven the car that they are easily the best brakes MINI has ever offered.
Now let’s talk about power. As we had reported the US version of the Countryman JCW will get 312 hp and not the 300 the UK or European versions output. What’s the differences? Our speculation was correct as the differences come down to tighter emissions standards in the UK and EU which results in MINI tuning down the engine slightly.
Another area we speculated correctly on is why the torque figure has gone down 36 ft lbs from the previous Countryman JCW. We confirmed it’s due to the new Asian sourced DCT transmission which, unlike the previous 8 speed torque converter automatic, isn’t capable of supporting more than 295 ft lbs. While that’s a sizable downgrade MINI was quick to point out that drivers likely won’t notice the difference given the increase in power and other improvements made in the engine. We took that to mean we’ll see more immediate torque at take-off but that’s yet to be confirmed.
If you’re curious that quad exhaust layout is truly four individual pipes coming out of a single, massive muffler. While we couldn’t drive the car, we did hear it start up several times and sadly it was quite quiet. However this was a pre-production car without the final software which could have contributed to the lack of typical JCW exhaust note. It was also a European spec Countryman JCW as well which will likely be quieter than its US counterpart.
Suspension, Chassis and Brakes
Under the car MINI has revised the suspension and will be offered the Countryman JCW exclusively with adaptive dampers. The goal was to dial in more feel and feedback into the chassis creating a more MINI-like driving experience. While we won’t know if they’ve been successful for awhile, what we saw was promising.
That includes the optional brakes which come with the 20″ wheels and non-run flat tires. The brakes are noticeable larger than the already excellent set-up on the current Countryman JCW and are now vented. The calipers remain four piston but have a larger swept area.
Bigger Wheels, Tires and No RunFlats
Run-flats are dead. MINI and BMW have finally ditched run-flats across the range to reduce weight, replacement cost and increase ride quality. Each new MINI (including Countryman JCW) will now come with a tire mobility kit that includes a compressor and a tire repair spray. To say we are happy would be an understatement.
The tires and wheels themselves are now larger with MINI finally offering 20″ wheels as optional for the first time. Those 20s have a size of 245/40/20 and are by far the largest we’ve ever seen on a MINI.
The Revolutionary New Interior of the MINI Countryman JCW
The new interior is nothing short of a revolution for MINI. However if you’re getting a JCW you have zero choice in terms of how it looks. Or in other words you can have it in any color as long as you like black. We confirmed that with MINI USA during our hands-on time with the car and pressed on when and if that may change with no luck. However it’s safe to say that MINI will likely offer more variety as production matures.
Colors aside the interior has moved away from leather and chrome and leaned into new materials in a way that we’ve never seen from other manufacturers. The result is impressive. The new Vescin leather alternative feels better than the typical leather found in MINIs. While it doesn’t quite match the suppleness of the Lounge Leather options, it’s very close. In fact the grade of Vescin on the steering wheel actually feels just as good. You can read much more about Vescin and why MINI has gone leather free in our exclusive report.
We really liked the look and feel of the textiles but time will tell in terms the longevity. According to MINI the material is 90% recycled and should be easily cleaned with a damp cloth – no chemicals needed.
One area that we’re eager to test is the center console. Gone is the storage under the armrest and in its place a very solid feeling extendable armrest. In fact it extends so far I could see someone propping a laptop on it and working. But we’re still at a loss for why MINI couldn’t figure out how to include storage in it.
The console itself has a small cubby that acts as storage. Interesting we’re told it’s relatively easy to remove and potentially replace with different forms to storage. According to MINI we should watch this space for potential future accessories.
Conclusions From Two Days with the Countryman JCW
We climbed and crawled all over the Countryman during the two days we had access to it. Without driving it we can’t speak to how successful MINI has been in reinventing its largest vehicle but early signs are promising. The overall design has grown on us and while it’s a clear step forward in design, it still feels evolutionary on the outside.
On the side it’s anything but and we love it. In fact the one area that we felt MINI simply nailed was the interior. From the incredible circular display to the textile dash, new layout and reengineered seats, it all feels like a well thought-out follow-up to the F60.
On paper performance looks good but we have yet to be convinced we won’t feel the difference in 0-60 times with a 36 ft lbs drop in torque. Add to that an extra 137 lbs and we’d expect a bit more restrained performance from this new U25 Countryman JCW vs its predecessor.
MINIUSA’s starting price $46,900 for the new Countryman may sound high but it’s only 3k more than the current F60 JCW and we’re told it will have higher standard features. In other words MINI USA is upping the price a bit it would appear that the value of the standard features (like heads-up display) will over compensate for it.
We’ll have much more on the new Countryman JCW in the weeks and months ahead.
MINI Countryman JCW Photo Gallery
This is Just the Start – An Entire New MINI Family is Coming
The new J01 MINI Cooper electric and U25 MINI Countryman have been annoucned are in production as of today. Next up will be MINI’s heavily revised F56 for all those who aren’t ready for a full electric Cooper. That car (the F66) will be MINI’s last small internal combustion car and will be built in Oxford. Finally we’ll see the all electric MINI Aceman crossover which effectively takes the place of the beloved MINI Clubman. The Aceman will be a small crossover roughly the size of the original MINI Countryman and will be released late next year. While the J01 MINI Cooper EV and the Aceman EV will initially be built in China, both will begin production at the Oxford Plant in 2027 with US sales following shortly afterwards.
For more coverage of the new generation MINI released recently, check out the following articles and videos.
MINI Cooper EV: Premier | MINI Cooper EV: Hands-On Review | MINI Cooper EV: Video Review
MINI Countryman EV: Premier | MINI Countryman EV: Hands-On Review | MINI Countryman EV: Video Review
New MINI Family: 1st Look Video | MINI Circular Display & MINI OS9 Hands-On Review