MINI's exciting new model launch programme continues apace - literally - with the arrival of the MINI Countryman John Cooper Works.
The performance-oriented flagship four-door Countryman is now the sixth member of the JCW family. But it's the first to combine the brand's motorsport pedigree with the critically acclaimed ALL4 all-wheel drive system. The debut of MINI's six-speed automatic transmission as an optional extra is another unique feature on this car.
Standard features include an advanced aerodynamic kit, lowered sport suspension, 18-inch light alloy wheels, sports stripes and exclusive design features.
It will take centre stage for its world debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show and go on sale in the autumn priced at £27,800 in the UK. It takes the current MINI range beyond 40 variants for the first time, with still more to come.
The MINI John Cooper Works Countryman is powered by a newly developed 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It boasts a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and variable valve control based on BMW Group's VALVETRONIC technology.
The power plant reaches its maximum output of 218 hp at 6,100 rpm and generates peak torque of 280 Nm between 2,000 and 5,600 rpm. The Overboost function briefly pushes this up to 300 Nm.
Performance will not disappoint JCW fans. The Countryman accelerates from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds with either the manual or automatic transmission. Top speed is 140mph, or 139mph on the auto. The MINI JCW Countryman is the most powerful MINI production model of all time.
The ALL4 all-wheel-drive system uses an electromagnetic centre differential to distribute drive seamlessly between the front and rear axles. In normal conditions ALL4 allows 50 per cent of power to the rear wheels, rising to anything up to 100 per cent when the going gets tough.
The chassis has been developed on the back of MINI and JCW's motorsport expertise. It includes a front axle with MacPherson struts, central-arm rear axle, electric power steering and a model-specific, high-performance braking system.
John Cooper Works sports suspension is standard, with stiffened spring and damper settings, strengthened anti-roll bars and a 10-millimetre drop in ride height over the standard Countryman. DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) with DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) is also on every car. It means the Countryman provides outstanding agility and driving fun on any terrain.
A Sport Button is also fitted, sharpening the engine's responses, retuning the exhaust note and adjusting the steering's power assistance.
MINIMALISM technology - including Brake Energy Regeneration, Shift Point Display and Auto Start/Stop for models with a manual gearbox - means maximum efficiency.
The result is fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures of 39.2mpg and 167g/km respectively (35.3mpg and 187g/km on the auto).
In keeping with the John Cooper Works heritage, the Countryman has enhanced visual impact over its siblings. The muscular aprons and bespoke side skirts are new and have been optimised for aerodynamic performance. Customers can choose from seven exterior colours and a contrasting finish can be specified for the roof and door mirror caps. That's available in the Chili Red shade that's exclusive to JCW models, or Light White or Jet Black. The iconic 'John Cooper Works' logo appears on the radiator grille, tailgate, door sills and near the side repeaters.
The car's interior - available as a four or five-seater - also gets unique styling details. Sports seats in Diagonal Track Carbon Black cloth trim with contrasting red stitching have been designed specially for the new model. Piano Black trim strips around the cockpit, door panels and centre console are standard. Chili Red trim on the cockpit, door and centre console are exclusive to this model.
As with all MINIs, a wide range of comfort, convenience, design and technology options is available for the John Cooper Works Countryman.