2025 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works: Anything But Mini

Strong points
  • Lovely design
  • Fun to drive
  • Outstanding performance
  • Increased versatility
Weak points
  • Hefty price
  • Heavier than the previous generation
  • New touchscreen requires some getting used to
Full report

MINI has done the impossible—making the Countryman larger and more versatile, yet more fun to drive at the same time. Before we go any further, and in case you find the second generation too big for your taste, we need to remind you that the company will launch the brand new Aceman “crossover” within a year. This model will slot between the Cooper hatchback and the latest Countryman, essentially playing the same role that the first-gen Countryman used to fill.

Now, the 2025 MINI Countryman is also significant in the fact that it’s the first MINI to be built in Germany, using the same platform as the BMW X1 and X2, which are two other vehicles that have recently grown in size. Boasting 134 mm of extra body length and 120 litres of additional cargo room, the new model is more of a small SUV than the original.

Obviously, styling won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, particularly with that imposing mug, squared-up headlight clusters and unique C-pillar treatment in the same contrasting colour as the roof, which kind of looks like a baseball helmet. Our high-performance John Cooper Works tester, complete with multiple badges all around (front grille, wheels, rear liftgate, C-pillar accents), screamed for attention.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

But you know what? The new Countryman is still charming. Attention to detail is impressive, too, from the mesh design of the grille to the geometric patterns found in the taillight clusters. What’s more, the contrasting roof that tapers in the rear and blends into the large, high-mounted spoiler gives it a super-sporty appearance while also contributing to a reduced drag coefficient (0.26).

More Powerful Than the European Version

Due to more stringent European emissions standards, the John Cooper Works model is capped at 300 horsepower over there. We get 12 more ponies here in North America, which is pretty unusual. In reality, the difference in output is a trivial one—the units we drove in Portugal felt plenty quick and potent, accelerating from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds and letting out sweet sound effects in the process.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Interestingly, MINI offers as many as eight drive modes with the new Countryman, although only three of them influence powertrain characteristics—Normal, Green and Go-Kart, the last two making for duller or sharper driving, respectively. The others are so-called “MINI Experience Modes,” which maximize the options for customizing the interior by means of light projections, a configurable user interface and new engine sounds.

When selecting Go-Kart, you’ll hear a sort of scream through the speakers as confirmation that the drive mode is activated. This would sound kitsch in any other car, but it fits perfectly with the personality of the new Countryman which, against all odds, delivers more fun than we had imagined. Yes, it’s big, but the extra weight is almost imperceptible and ultra-responsive steering makes for outstanding, confidence-inspiring handling. You won’t find a more car-like driving experience in similar crossovers, not even with the segment-leading Audi Q3 or BMW X1.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Admittedly, MINI’s approach won’t suit everybody. We’ve already mentioned the exterior design, but some people probably won’t like the childish animations on the centre display. This is a driver’s car, er, crossover first and foremost, with a dynamic and playful attitude that could prove to be an irritant for the not so inclined.

Come to think of it, driving the new Countryman is a surefire way to cure a bad mood and escape all the negativity and stress of the daily grind. We dare you not to smile behind the wheel.

Haute Couture?

It’s pretty clear when you step inside the top-line John Cooper Works Countryman that MINI raised the bar quite a bit as far as luxury and material selection are concerned. The previous cabin had some dubious materials, but the new one is simply irresistible with tasteful use of colours and high-strength fabric.

The magnificently sculpted seats, decidedly modern design and high-resolution circular touchscreen are obvious draws, here. Versatility has been improved, not only with expanded cargo space but also a ton of nifty storage solutions. One complaint is the head-up display, which projects information onto a folding clear panel instead of the windshield.  

Photo: Antoine Joubert

You’d assume the 241-horsepower Countryman S would be less fancy, but judging by the pictures we saw at the press event, it’s not. Naturally, we expect handling to be less sharp, though it will still trump the BMW X1 in all likelihood. And for those who feel like relaxing behind the wheel from time to time, MINI has included level-2 autonomous driving tech that combines adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist and automatic emergency braking.

Priced from $56,290 (all fees included), the 2025 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works ALL4 is a direct response to the similarly powerful Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC. But wait: as mentioned above, a fully electric Countryman SE is also on the way, with comparable output, approximately 340 km of range and a price tag of $59,990 before EV incentives are applied. We’ll go into further detail in a separate review coming up on March 5, so don’t miss it.

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