BEHOLD the next-generation Mini Countryman; sporting chunkier styling, significantly more space, and a welcome dose of extra pace, courtesy of the gang at John Cooper Works.
Spotted in actual JCW garb testing in final prototype form at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, the 2017 Mini Countryman will be unveiled shortly, ahead of an anticipated Paris Motor Show global debut in late September.
Australian sales are scheduled for sometime within the first half of next year, as BMW strives to capitalise on the double-digit gains its British style brand has managed in the first six months of 2016.
Designed squarely to take on the upcoming Audi Q2, as well as the existing Mercedes-Benz GLA, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, and Volkswagen Tiguan, the F60 Countryman adopts a chunkier and more geometric form, as it edges closer to more traditional SUV proportions. The tape measure is expected to confirm increases in all vital dimensions, including wheelbase and track widths, with cabin room and practicality benefitting most as a result.
That’s no surprise, given that the UKL1 platform that underpins the only slightly larger BMW X1 lurks underneath. As such, it is reasonable to assume some serious advancement in handling, roadholding, and ride comfort are on their way, especially in models like the Countryman JCW fitted with sports suspension and adaptive dampers.
Engine choices are likely to emulate the rest of the UKL1-derived F56 Mini range, meaning that a 100kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol and diesel units will most probably power the base versions, while a variety of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbos will take care of the up-spec cars. The Countryman JCW pictured here may be using the 170kW/320Nm version of the Cooper hatchback equivalent.
As before, a six-speed automatic driving either the front or all four wheels will also be available in lieu of the standard six-speed manual set-up.
The pricing strategy BMW adopts for its newcomer should be interesting, as every UKL1-based Mini since 2014 has launched costing up to 10 percent less than its predecessor. If that’s the case here, expect the base F60 Countryman Cooper 2WD manual to kick off at under $35,000, rising above $55,000 for the hotly anticipated JCW ALL4 AWD auto.
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