Rumors of a John Cooper Works version of the MINI Countryman have been circulating since early 2010, and now it's official: MINI has announced that the 2013 John Cooper Works Countryman will hit U.S. dealers in the fall of 2012.

The MINI John Cooper Works (JCW) Countryman will pioneer a string of firsts for MINI. Not only is it the first JCW variant to come with MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system, but it will be the first JCW vehicle to offer an available six-speed automatic gearbox as an alternative to the standard six-speed manual.

Engine power is up, too, although not quite as much as we’d anticipated. The JCW Countryman will come packing 211 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, a gain of three horsepower and 15 pound-feet of torque from other John Cooper Works models. An Overboost function allows the engine to temporarily produce up to 221 pound-feet of torque.

The gains come from the use of direct fuel injection and a variable valve timing system, based on BMW’s Valvetronic technology. To ensure the revised engine’s durability, strengthened pistons and intake valves are used, the cooling system is modified and an oversized intercooler is fitted.

MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system ensures that the additional power gets to the ground regardless of road or weather conditions. Under normal driving conditions, all of the engine’s output is directed to the front wheels. Should the car lose traction, an electromagnetic center differential can send up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels.

The JCW Countryman’s drivetrain enables it to run from 0-62 mph in 7.1 seconds with a manual transmission or 7.5 seconds when equipped with the automatic. Top speed is 127 mph, and the JCW Countryman is rated at up to 32.6 mpg (29.4 mpg with the automatic gearbox) in European cycle testing. Data from the U.S. EPA is still pending.

All John Cooper Works Countryman models will come with a sport suspension and an aerodynamic body kit featuring revised front and rear end styling and side skirts. Customers can choose between seven primary exterior colors and three contrasting colors for the roof and mirrors, including the JCW-exclusive “Chili Red.”

Inside, buyers get sport seats, a sport steering wheel, dark speedometer and tachometer faces, an anthracite headliner and red contrast stitching throughout. John Cooper Works badging reminds you that other Countryman drivers will be seeing your taillights as you pull away from them at a stoplight.

Look for pricing to be announced closer to the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman’s release.