The new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman (left) and The Countryman

BEFORE the current Clubman and Countryman iterations of MINI John Cooper Works rule supreme, the most “powerful and insanely” fun MINI was Mr. Bean’s Citron 1977 Mini 1000 (wink* wink*).

Many may remember a memorable episode of “January Sales Do-It-Yourself” about 30 years ago. It showed Rowen Atkinson a.k.a Mr Bean driving from the roof of the car atop a large armchair using ropes and remote control. This was after Mr Bean no longer had room for himself after stuffing the entire car with items he bought from a shop.

Fast forward to the present era.

July 17 marked the launch of the two MINI John Cooper Works models, the Clubman and the Countryman.

The cars, touted as two most powerful and exclusive models ever built by the premium British brand, were unveiled during MINI Track Days at Sepang International Circuit a fortnight ago.

Besides the two offerings, we also got our hands on a MINI JCW Cooper and a few units of the conventional three and five-door Cooper and Cooper S.

Introducing the new MINI JCW models, BMW Group Malaysia managing director Han Sang Yun said: “In the summer of 1959, Sir Alex Issigonis presented the Mini, his idea of a small car complete with ample space and exciting driving capabilities to the world. The humble classic Mini was then transformed by racing legend John Cooper into a world touring and rally champion, winning the Monte Carlo Rally back to back in 1964 and 1965.


(From left) Kidd Yam, head of MINI Malaysia with the New MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and Eric Goebel, MINI area manager (Asia, Pacific, South Africa and importer regions); and Han Sang Yun, managing director and CEO of BMW Group Malaysia with the New MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. Pix by Aswadi Alias

“Today, as we celebrate John Cooper’s 94th birthday, we are pleased to introduce two new MINI John Cooper Works models which carry the legendary high-performance DNA set by John Cooper as well as the reputation of premium sophistication that MINI is known for.”

TRACK DAY

The press corps were divided into two groups. We were in the Green Group, and the first program in the itenary, after a tasty breakfast and short briefing, was to have a few quick spins around the South section of the SIC in, first a JCW Countryman and then JCW Clubman. Next on the program was to paralllel park a MINI by way of yanking the handbrake, before proceeding to negotiate extended cone slalom.


Cars lined up in the pit stop. Pix by Aswadi Alias

Inside, the new JCW Clubman and JCW Countryman boast sports seats with Dinamica leather upholstery in Carbon Black and red stripes, JCW leather steering wheel, stainless steel pedals, JCW instrument cluster, JCW centre display trim.

As we sprinted off the pit lane, we realised just how responsive were the cars.

The new MINI JCW Clubman is a blend of “versatile performance and sophisticated design”, while its Countryman cousin is built for the adventurer. Its bold, racing-inspired looks combined with the finest quality materials and a suite of visual enhancements put John Cooper Works in a league of its own.

Key exterior highlights of the new JCW Clubman and John Cooper Works Countryman include the JCW aerodynamic bodykit, 19-inch JCW Course spoke wheels in Burnish Black, JCW grille, Chili Red roof and mirror caps, Chili Red body stickers, rear spoiler, stainless steel tailpipes, as well as JCW side scuttles and JCW door sill.


One of the Mini’s on the track

GREAT RESPONSE COMES FROM GREAT POWER

Both the new JCW iterations feature the 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology which produces 231hp with 350Nm of torque. Together with their eight-speed Steptronic Sports automatic transmission, the Clubman hits 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds while the Countryman does so in 6.5 seconds. The high engine speed gives drivers a maximum go-kart feeling.

This is coupled with an eight speed Steptronic Sports automatic transmission which enables the JCW models to be sportier, more efficient and comfortable due to the smaller engine speed steps.


The gears can also be shifted manually through the steering wheel paddles. With that, the New JCW Clubman has a combined fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres while the JCW Countryman has a combined fuel consumption of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

The sports brake system developed specially for both the models ensures that not only the acceleration figures reflect the car’s thrilling performance-oriented character. Designed in collaboration with the specialist manufacturer Brembo, the four-piston fixed caliper disc brakes guarantee consistently high deceleration performance even when exposed to intensive stress on the race track. The Brake calipers are finished in red and bear the JCW logo.

TRACTION, DRIVE STABILITY AND CORNERING DYNAMICS

The new MINI JCW Clubman and Countryman are the first top athletes of the latest generation to be fitted with the all-wheel drive system ALL4 as standard. The electronically-controlled distribution of drive torque between the front and rear wheels allows particularly spirited acceleration manoeuvres as well as increasing agility when taking bends in dynamic style. Additionally, ALL4 ensures supreme traction and optimised driving stability in all weathers and road conditions. Due to the fact that it is interlinked with Dynamic Stability Control DSC, ALL4 guarantees drive torque distribution that is adapted quickly and precisely to the given driving situation, thereby underscoring both the extreme athletic character and the versatility of the models.

The intelligent ALL4 control system permanently calculates the ideal balance of power distribution between the front and rear wheels. This allows engine power to be constantly channelled to wherever it can be most effectively converted into traction and driving fun.

PRICING AND OTHER PACKAGES

The new JCW models arrive with the MINI four-year unlimited mileage warranty with free scheduled service as well.

The estimated retail prices (on the road for personal registration, without insurance) is RM328,888 for the Clubman variant and RM348,888 for the Countryman iteration.