Car Review: Mini spices up the little crossover with the powerful 2021 John Cooper Works Countryman

Most tiny crossovers do not scream “fun to drive,” but the 2021 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman has changed that perception for me. The bright Chili-red paint with black stripes and large 19-inch wheels give off a sporty vibe.

For 2021, there is also a makeover at the front end with a new grill design and out back with larger Union Jack taillights. This is the biggest vehicle Mini makes but luckily, it keeps much of the cheeky look of the smaller Mini cars. It also looks a bit smaller than it actually is.

The John Cooper Works part of the name means this is a little crossover rocket machine. With 301hp-turbocharged ponies living under the hood, this Mini moves. The acceleration is brisk and it sounds good when it is in the power.

The handling prowess is impressive for a small crossover too. The All4 system funnels the Mini’s power to all four wheels. The eight-speed automatic is smooth when cruising or a quick and firm shift when playing.

Inside, this Mini has been improved for 2021 with tweaked interior materials that seem to compliment this premium small crossover. Special seats come with the John Cooper Works models that keep you in place. The new optional digital instrument panel looks cool as it sits in front of the dash, giving it a race car or motorcycle feel. I’m glad they kept the big central circle that houses the large touch screen and other controls.

The Countryman is spacious for a Mini with seating for five or four comfortably. There is even a decent amount of cargo space for a smaller crossover.

Cost: $41,500; as tested $51,450
MPG: 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway; I managed 26.1 mpg in 226 miles of mixed driving.
Safety: Active cruise control with braking function; dynamic stability control; active driving assistant with forward collision warning; park distance control & parking assistant; Mini heads-up display; LED headlights & cornering lighting
Options: $500 convenience package; $850 driver assistance package; $7,000 Iconic trim; $250 black sport stripes; $500 privacy glass
Things to know: The 2021 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman is the answer to cure dull premium crossovers with 301hp, distinctive style and the first three years of maintenance on the house.

Pros:

  • A premium little crossover that stands out in a crowded marketplace
  • This big Mini will fit a small family without hassle
  • Punchy turbo engine provides a lot of performance and still gets good MPG

Cons:

  • The special seats in the John Cooper Works could be a tight fit for larger drivers
  • For the largest Mini it is still not a very big
  • Some might find the ride too firm (check out other versions of Countryman)

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