At the moment, four turbocharged engines are available split between two petrols and two diesels with a plug-in hybrid available in conjunction with the smallest petrol. The cheapest option at the moment is the 1.5-litre petrol Cooper that has 134bhp. The other petrol motor is a 2.0-litre unit that can be found in the Cooper S and JCW. With 189bhp in the Cooper S, you might expect it to feel fast. However, the Countryman’s weight means that performance is actually quite lukewarm. It is at least flexible, making relaxed progress easy.
The range topping JCW is noticeably quicker, thanks to a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that has been uprated with a new turbocharger and additional intercooler - the net result being 228bhp, 258lb ft of torque and a 0-62mph time of 6.5sec. That said, you never quite get that ‘pushed into the back of your seat’ urgency that you expect from a hot hatch – something we suspect is down to the fact that the Countryman weighs around 200kg more than an equivalent Mini Cooper S hatch.
If you’re after a diesel, you can have a 2.0-litre unit with either 148bhp in the Cooper D, or 187bhp in the Cooper SD. We haven’t tried the SD, but the standard Cooper D offers really good performance – better than equivalent priced diesel rivals.
The final option is the Cooper S E plug-in hybrid. This has the 1.5-litre petrol powering the front wheels and a powerful electric motor powering the rears. Combined, they provide almost as much power as the JCW to give a 0-62mph time of just 6.8 seconds. It feels quick up to around 50mph but the weight of the battery means acceleration tails off soon after. The car’s battery pack can be charged from the mains to give an electric only range of 26 miles. In practice, though, that range will depend very much on how you drive. You also get three different driving modes: Max eDrive runs the car on purely electric power, while a battery save mode holds the electric range at a pre-set point for later use. Auto eDrive, as its name suggests, mixes the two together.