What's the news?
For all of those thinking 'I'd like a hot MINI but I'd like it to be just a bit bigger, heavier, and roomier' we have good news - here come the new John Cooper Works versions of the MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman.
Excitingly, both cars get a new engine, an amped-up version of the MINI Cooper S' 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder. In the hatchback John Cooper Works (JCW) model, that engine develops a robust 230hp. Here in the new JCW Clubman and Countryman, that's upped to a Golf R-baiting 306hp.
Both models get an eight-speed 'Steptronic' automatic transmission, and both drive all four-wheels through the All4 system.
To extract the extra power from the engine, MINI's engineers have fitted a new crankshaft, new main bearings, new pistons and con-rods, and a new cooling system - so efficient that MINI claims it will create an "optimum running temperature for the engine is guaranteed at all times - even under extreme conditions on the race track." They've also fitted a whacking great turbocharger, and reduced the compression ratio of the engine to 9.5:1. There's also an updated fuel injection system, a new air intake, and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing.
Along with that 306hp, the engine develops 450Nm of torque, at just 1,750rpm which is 28 per cent higher than the old JCW engine. 0-100km/h is done with in 4.9 seconds (just 0.2 secinds behind the Mercedes-AMG A 35) if you're in the Clubman, while the Countryman takes a little longer; 5.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. Emissions are 161 to 169g/km for the Clubman and 156 to 161g/km for the Countryman, with fuel consumption between 6.9 and 7.4 litres per 100km.
There's a sports exhaust system too, which should be pretty rorty if our experience in the 60th anniversary MINI Cooper S is anything to go by. The Clubman gets a hefty 95mm exhaust pipe, while the Countryman gets a slightly less dramatic 85mm.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox has been altered and uprated a little to cope with the extra power and torque, and there's a launch control system just in case you find yourself next to an Audi S3 at the lights... (Do not try this at home etc.) As well as four-wheel drive, the JCW cars get a locking mechanical front diff, which works with the electronic stability control system to try and generate the maximum possible front-end grip and traction.
On the chassis front, the JCW cars ride 10mm lower than standard, on 18 or 19-inch wheels. There's retuned adaptive sports suspension for both, and new brakes - 360mm at the front, and 330mm at the rear, with red JCW callipers. To stiffen up the bodyshells a little, there are also new struts in the engine bay, while the exterior gets a new aero-optimised bodykit.
There's also a bazooka's worth of John Cooper Works badges scattered around, plus red highlights for the mirror caps and air intakes. Inside, there are JCW high-back bucket seats, a model-specific steering wheel and gear selector, and dark headlining. Standard kit includes LED headlamps, keyless ride, MINI Driving Modes, and the Radio MINI Visual Boost including 6.5-inch display with touchscreen function and a redesigned graphical display. The integrated Connected Media equipment is able to access numerous MINI Connected online services.
But wait, that's not all. Later this year we'll see a new MINI John Cooper Works GP3 model (no back seat, lighter, strut braces everywhere) with the same 306hp engine. That could be enough to start a riot...