Volume 15 Issue 1 » 57 2018 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works » Freshly redesigned and bigger than ever, MINI’s Countryman is its best-selling model. Sharing a platform with the BMW X1, the Countryman JCW - John Cooper Works - is tuned for improved performance and more of a puppy-dog enthusiastic personality versus its more serious BMW counterpart. In JCW trim, the Countryman is imbued with a lot more pep to its step with multiple performance and handling upgrades. With 228 hp - versus the Countryman S’ 189 hp - from a 2.0-litre turbocharged V4, choose from either a six-speed manual or a fantastic eight-speed automatic. Despite being the largest MINI, the Countryman JCW exhibits impressive agility, aided by its ALL4 all-wheel-drive system, limited-slip differential, and dynamic damper control. The engine belches and growls through upshifts and generates one of the most satisfying backfire pops on the overrun. Leave it in gear, let off the throttle pedal, and enjoy the engine-braking pandemonium whenever you’re feeling bored in traffic. Although the Countryman JCW is fast in a straight line, it’s also fantastic under braking thanks to its Brembo calipers. Naturally, the Countryman JCW also has a splashier exterior and interior to set it apart. Highlights include the distinctive honeycomb grille, an aggressive lower front fascia, roof-mounted spoiler, and red accents to round out the package. Interior upgrades include supportive sport seats and a JCW-specific steering wheel. The 2018 MINI Countryman JCW starts at an MSRP of $38,890. The year was 1961 when racing legend John Cooper transformed the Classic MINI into a giant-slaying rally demon. Fast forward to 2018, and the formula is still the same. Since its rebirth more than 15 years ago under BMW stewardship, MINI has continued to build its reputation on creating quirky cars with distinctive styling and go-kart handling.