BEHIND THE WHEEL: Mini Countryman JCW
MONDAY JULY 13, 2020
For me to choose an SUV over a wagon, it should at least have power going to all wheels. Our reasons may vary but all-weather safety is presumably right up there and that’s a problem because this will eliminate many that pretend to be an SUV. In Down Under at least, the entry model and Cooper S are front-driven so that leaves us only with the SD and John Cooper Works to choose from. Unless you’re an insurance agent, your only choice is the JCW.
Space and comfort
Numb to drive
0-100 km/h: 5.1s
Top speed: 250 km/h
$ 65,900 AUD
Maybe when done right, things tend to be a lot more boring like playing a game with difficulty set to easy. A wacky design made the F60 Countryman look a lot smaller than it actually is. Four will fit in comfort with space to spare and there’s a boot as big as executive saloons. Unlike what it replaces, there is nothing that can really be faulted. Lounge seats, rebel green paint and sunroof are nice to have but none of them you cannot live without.
As with all Minis, your mood will be lifted by fancy lighting and funky acoustics for the first five times then it becomes annoying. The speedometer is now located where you’d expect it to be, so as window switches. And as with modern BMWs, everything is tightly bolted down so things are unlikely to fall off.
Within the first kilometre, you’d appreciate the ride quality as it isn’t as hard as you might think, very much liveable for a 50-year old. After a few more, you’ll come to realise the John Cooper Works has not only matured but has become a fading star. The only JCW trait left is the exhaust. That aside, there is no joy to be had from the input and the output from driving this car.
Steering wheel is nice in the hands but tells no information to the driver. Gone are the days of hydraulic steering but this is not what I'm on about. The Countryman has a driving position of a minivan. Therefore, there is no reason to go a little quicker in your favourite bend because you will not be thrilled in any form apart from the possibility of getting into an accident.
Does it mean I wouldn’t buy one? I might but it will be driven on the slow lane. I will drive it to get groceries. I will even drive it on unpaved roads to get to jungle walks. It takes driving fatigue out of me. Even with a panoramic sunroof, noise from the outside world is kept to a minimum. It is a sterile environment that suits the lives of many who are looking for something that’s interesting so long it isn’t too interesting and in 2020, that might just do.