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2020 Mini JCW Countryman facelift: more aggressive, better tech

John Law

Mini has announced details of the facelifted John Cooper Works Countryman, the brand’s nippiest small SUV. The lightly refreshed vehicle boasts 225kW of power, an all-wheel-drive system and the British brand’s unique retro-aesthetic.

It’s mainly a nip-and-tuck job for the quick Countryman – there are new LED light signatures front and rear, refreshed bumper designs, and increased interior technology to boot.

Motivating the JCW Countryman is a familiar turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder B48 engine producing 225kW/450Nm – the same as in the track-focused Mini JCW GP edition.

2020 Mini JCW Countryman Rear
An updated rear bumper and new LED lights.

Though in the Countryman, power will be transferred to all four wheels to bolster the off-road credentials touted by the SUV’s more robust, taller aesthetic.

At 1,555kg, the JCW Countryman isn’t particularly portly, and Mini claims a 0-100km/h sprint of 5.1 seconds. Meanwhile, an eight-speed Aisin torque converter automatic handles gear-changing duties.

The firecracker JCW powertrain will sit alongside the current cooking Countrymans – there is still the choice of a 100kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, 140kW four-cylinder diesel, or intriguing 2.5l/100km PHEV drivetrain.

2020 Mini JCW Countryman Light
The Union Jack feature is cute, we reckon.

Think of the JCW Countryman as a direct alternative to the BMW X2 M35i – though all-new Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class offer different takes on small SUV dynamics. What’s certain is that you won’t mistake the Countryman for cookie-cutter SUVs, especially in JCW trim.

Speaking of how the JCW looks, the union jack taillights remain, but for 2020 Mini has restyled the front and rear bumpers with sharper, more confident shapes, and a horizontal red stripe in place of the outgoing style which surrounded the top grille.

First impressions suggest the updates have worked, adding plenty of aggression to the exterior, with a more pronounced rear diffuser, though we doubt its functionality, and bigger diameter (95mm) exhaust tips.

2020 Mini JCW Countryman Carousel
Any guesses as to where the JCW Countryman was tested?

The updated JCW Countryman gets a choice of two new hues; white silver metallic (pictured) and sage green join an already bursting line-up. While the JCW looks good for a small SUV, we still reckon the less bulky Mini Clubman is the smarter option.

Attractive 18-inch alloy wheels adorn the JCW Countryman, behind the fronts are four-piston callipers painted chilli red. Naturally, the JCW has had its suspension retuned – trainspotters will notice the famous Nordschleife “carousel” – there are also chassis reinforcements and recalibrated ESC system.

Perhaps where the Mini product is lagging furthest behind established premium rivals is the interior. Not so much the design, where the British car has carefully cultivated its own retro-style niche, but more the outright content.

2020 Mini JCW Countryman Interior
Inside the JCW now gets a digital driver display.

While competitors get huge centrally mounted touchscreens, the JCW Countryman makes do with a comparatively small 8.8-inch unit running a system similar to BMW’s iDrive. There’s a new digital drivers display, though at 5-inches it is markedly smaller than Audi’s MMI system.

Safety tech for the JCW Countryman includes things like adaptive cruise control, reverse camera, parking assist and AEB with pedestrian detection. However, the UKL2 platform the Mini SUV is based on does not support now essential safety features like blind-spot monitoring.

Mini says the refreshed JCW Countryman will arrive in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2020. Pricing will be confirmed closer to launch, but we expect this little firecracker to start north of $65,000 before on-road costs.