MINI invited us to spend quality time with the new Countryman in snowy Sweden where the compact crossover arrived in the John Cooper Works flavor. For the sake of clarity, you’re looking at the actual performance version rather than the namesake trim level, which is all show without any extra go. The easiest way to tell them apart is by checking out the rear of the vehicle where only the true JCW model has a quad exhaust setup.

A MINI only in name, this third-generation Countryman (U25) is not much smaller than the latest BMW X1 (U11). This crossover photographed in a winter wonderland in northern Europe comes in Midnight Black with red contrasting accents and optional 20-inch wheels. It’s missing the optional hood stripes available in either red or black, but it does have the new John Cooper Works logo introduced with the latest JCW models.

The styling on the outside hasn’t changed all that much – it must be an instantly recognizable MINI after all. The jump in size is evident and if you want a smaller crossover, the Aceman debuting next month will slot underneath the Countryman. However, the newcomer will be an electric-only affair whereas its bigger brother comes in gasoline, diesel, and EV flavors.

Speaking of types of propulsion, this generation of the Countryman is likely the last to come with ICE power. The Oxford-based marque wants to be fully electric by around 2030, so there’s no time for another crossover with gasoline and diesel powertrains. The BMW Group makes the U25 in Leipzig, Germany where the X1 calls home. That Aceman we mentioned earlier will be initially assembled only in China, but MINI will also build the model in the UK from 2026.

You can imagine the Countryman and X1 have a lot in common to reduce costs and speed up development, but the crossovers do look substantially different inside and out. Another important factor that separates these two is the availability of a plug-in hybrid for the X1 (xDrive25e and xDrive30e) whereas the Countryman doesn’t combine a combustion engine with an electric motor anymore.

The BMW Group is covering all the bases with the Countryman and X1 in the small crossover segment, complemented by the new 3-Door and 5-Door MINI hatchbacks and the future 1 Series and 2 Series Gran Coupe. Add into the mix the aforementioned Aceman and a long-wheelbase 2 Gran Coupe (F78) for China, the entry-level class is well-covered.