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Driven: Mini Countryman JCW blasts in

Country life: The Countryman JCW has increased in price by $1000 since the original pricing announcement, due to the addition of extra standard gear.

Sports SUV boom to further drive Mini Countryman JCW growth


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18 Aug 2017

MINI Australia has targeted a major increase in John Cooper Works (JCW) sales volume within its four-body style local line-up, with this month’s Countryman JCW flagship taking on a key role in the plan by leveraging off the sports SUV trend.

Priced from $57,900 plus on-road costs – a $1000 increase over the previously announced price, due to Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging becoming standard – Mini is hoping the Countryman JCW will help the sporty Minis move from a current 10 per cent share of the range, to beyond 13 per cent.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Countryman JCW in northern Victoria this week, Mini Australia general manager Tony Sesto said that while the Cooper S had now trumped the Cooper as the best-selling Mini, the Countryman JCW was expected to lift its fortunes compared with the old model.

“Mini (globally) sells about five per cent of total Mini volume in the JCW range, but for us we’re twice as strong as that, and actually going one step further with the new variants that we’ve just introduced,” he said.

“Currently in the first half of the year the JCW variants make up 10 per cent of overall Mini sales in our market, which is extremely strong if you compare that to global averages.

“(With) the Countryman and the Clubman JCW, we’re actually on track to probably end at around 13 per cent by the end this year, which you compare that again to the five per cent global average and it’s extremely strong.”

The new Mini Countryman has enjoyed a 27.4 per cent sales increase so far this year over the same period in 2016, with 377 units sold, despite only going on-sale locally in March.

But the figure disguises the real lift the new Countryman has given Mini – by March the brand moved 75 vehicles for a monthly average of 25 units, while from April to July another 302 vehicles were sold for a 76-unit monthly average.

Should the new Countryman maintain its monthly average it would be possible for the small SUV to achieve 912 annual units – with 13 per cent or 119 sales for the fastest model – however Mr Sesto said even further gains would be made.

“With the new Countryman, we’ve already seen over 500 orders that have been taken through our dealer network,” he revealed.

“Not all of those 500 have been supplied because a good portion of those are customer builds.

“We’ve still got customers who want to option-up their Minis exactly the way they want it (and) we’re seeing much stronger sales in the Cooper S in comparison to the Cooper.”

Mini Australia product planning manager Daniel Silverwood added that while the Cooper and Cooper S were likely to remain the volume sellers of the Countryman range, “We are expecting to increase our level of All4 all-wheel-drive models versus the predecessor model, which was quite low.”“The John Cooper Works in the Countryman will certainly be a key model to help drive us hopefully to that 13 per cent share of JCW mix (of overall Mini sales), and hopefully a step further next year,” he continued.

“Without giving an exact split … we don’t want to put any ceiling on what the JCW could achieve … given it is a new model to market, it’s still early days and availability hasn’t freed up fully.

“But we know this is a price and value point that even within the BMW portfolio the 25i represents quite a strong proportion of X1 mix. So certainly there’s good potential for customers looking for more performance.”

In terms of growth the Countryman has been beaten only by the Mini Convertible, which year-to-date to July 2017 has soared by 75.2 per cent, although with 212 units it remains behind the brand’s new small SUV.

While the Clubman has fallen 14.2 per cent over the same period with 272 sales, the Mini Hatch – comprising both three- and five-door body styles – remains the top seller with 1456 sales, although with 0.8 per cent growth so far this year.

The Countryman JCW uses a variation of the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine powering all Cooper S and JCW models, however for the latter it incorporates a new turbocharger and pistons for a lower compression ratio.

Although it also shares its 170kW (from 5000rpm to 6000rpm) power output with the JCW three-door and convertible models, as with the Clubman JCW it moves from 320Nm to 350Nm of torque, made between 1450rpm and 5000rpm.

It also follows the Clubman JCW with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and All4 all-wheel drive, replacing the six-speed and front-driven configuration of the other fast Mini models. However, the JCW is also the only Countryman available with a no-cost six-speed manual transmission.

The Countryman JCW claims 6.5-second 0-100km/h performance and official combined-cycle fuel consumption of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres, which is two-tenths slower and 0.2L thirstier than the $3000-cheaper Clubman JCW, respectively, owing mostly to the 65kg-heavier, 1630kg kerb weight.

The sporty crossover also stands 4299mm long, 1822mm wide and 1557mm tall, stretching 46mm/22mm/116mm further than the Clubman – although the 2670mm wheelbase is shared between them.

Inside the Countryman JCW also gets a larger boot – 450 litres versus the Clubman JCW’s 360L – plus a sliding back seat with greater cabin storage.

JCW-specific equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, red exterior surrounds, unique door sills/gearshifter/instrumentation and pedals, ‘hazy grey’ cabin surface, Anthracite roof liner, part-leather sports seats/steering wheel and a unique head-up display with sports content.

In addition to the variable-distribution all-wheel-drive system working around the MacPherson strut/independent rear suspension, a Performance Control function has been added to the Green, Normal and Sport modes, the latter two providing changes to the standard adaptive suspension, steering and drivetrain.

Other equipment includes LED headlights with auto up/down high-beam, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), front and rear parking sensors with automatic park assist and reverse-view camera

keyless auto-entry with Mini logo door-light projection, active cruise control, automatic tailgate, and dual-zone climate control plus an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen with digital radio, satellite navigation, 20Gb hard drive, USB and Bluetooth audio streaming, Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging and 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio.

Among the myriad personalisation options a trio of main packages can be added, dubbed Climate ($2400 – panoramic glass sunroof and heated front seats), Convenience ($850 – electrically adjustable front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror and alarm) and Road Trip ($500 – picnic bench rear seat, luggage compartment net and tyre pressure monitor).

Mini Countryman JCW competitors in price, size and/or performance include the Audi Q3 2.0 TFSI Quattro ($52,900), BMW X1 xDrive25i ($59,900), Subaru Forester XT Premium ($48,240) and Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI ($48,490).

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