Armed with its most powerful engine yet, the BMW-owned 2021 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman becomes a speedy pocket-rocket while battling the American shift to SUVs, crossovers, and pick-up trucks.
Classified by EPA as a mid-size car, the two-tone, attractive four-door Countryman is the largest MINI built and accounts for one-third of MINI sales in the US, fueled by its unique culture of local and national car clubs.
2021 MINI John Cooper Works CTM ALL4 Review
We tested the 2021 MINI John Cooper Works CTM (Countryman) all-wheel-drive. It is upgraded with a 301-horsepower turbo four-cylinder engine, new Brembo sport brakes, revised all-wheel-drive, standard LED headlights, it is neck-snapping quick, reaching 60 mph in less than five seconds.
The base price escalated with five options costing $9,100, the most expensive the $7,000 Iconic trim option above Classic and Signature; there is also a hybrid trim.
Options are vital for navigation, dynamic cruise control, and a host of other safety, comfort, information, and functions mandatory to maximize MINI ownership.
Our 2021 MINI John Cooper Countryman was fast, agile to handle, and thrilling to drive with an eight-speed automatic transmission, manual paddles, and standard all-wheel-drive. Under acceleration, the new exhaust system popped and gurgled like a muscular sports car.
A heads-up display, legible in sunlight, showed vehicle speed and the speed limit, often at odds. Black stripes on the Chili Red hood advertised highway prowess, especially in sport mode. (There are also Mid and fuel-conserving Eco drive modes.)
Wearing 19-inch summer tires with five-spoke alloy wheels, the ride was occasionally rough over uneven macadam but otherwise comfortable in bolstered heated front seats outfitted with quilted microsuede coverings.
The cabin is recognizable with the iconic MINI 8.8-inch circular center touch-screen also using a center spine knob, like BMWs, for functions and information, such as navigation with excellent voice recognition.
There are typical airplane-like toggle switches and six screen icons, each loaded with several selections to drill down for more detail.
Fit and finish are excellent, Apple CarPlay and Harman Kardon audio are included. Rear seating is tight for adults and when folded, expands to create still smallish cargo space; there is a mobility kit. The trunk lid opens remotely but manually closes with a power button.
Visors don’t extend fully, crash safety ratings are four out of five stars and top safety driver aids like blind-spot detection, lane-keeping alert, and rear traffic alert are not available.
At a Glance
LIKES: Acceleration, looks, handling, upscale cabin, comfort, complimentary three year maintenance
DISLIKES: Pricey options needed, missing safety options, ride is sometimes rough
BOTTOM LINE: MINI enthusiasts will take notice; new engine adds appeal
Fact File: 2021 MINI John Cooper Works CTM ALL4
2.0-liter, twin turbo, four cylinders
301 hp at 5,200 rpm
331 lb-ft at 1,450 rpm
8-speed automatic/manual paddles
23 mpg city/30 mpg hwy
0-60 just under 5 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.