DRIVEN: The New MINI John Cooper Works Countryman & Clubman – First Impressions.

Mini Countryman JCW

Any Mini Cooper with a John Cooper Works (JCW) badge means that particular model is a cut above the rest in the same model range. Originally built in the 3 door Mini Cooper, over the years the badge has worked its way to the Mini Cooper Clubman and Countryman models I was fortunate enough to be invited for the national media launch for the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman & Clubman variants in George, Western Cape. I drove on some of the beautiful off-road mountain passes in the Countryman and got to put the Clubman through its paces on some twisty roads and the city streets in George. 

MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

This is the biggest car Mini builds, the Mini SUV in its second generation with the JCW badge feels like it is a cross between a mini SUV and a hot hatch. To make it more of a real world test, the route consisted of both a gravel and tar just to show the capabilities of the Countryman off-road and its famed go-kart feeling on tar roads.

The MINI John Cooper Works Countryman makes use of 170kW and 350Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged petrol engine. With JCW not entirely engineering for off-road, and more towards tarmac, I must say that the Countryman exceeded my expectations. With is ALL4 all-wheel-drive system, the car was composed on the loose surface of gravel but not once did I feel like I was not in control. Typically having power sent to the front wheels, it has the potential to send 100% of the torque to the rear wheels. To be more in control in the condition of the loose gravel, pop it into manual mode and use the flappy paddles mounted on the steering wheel for a more enjoyable off-road experience.

Mini Countryman JCW_040.jpg

The John Cooper Works Countryman is a hoot to drive around twisty roads. Thanks to all-wheel-drive, out on the road, you can chuck it around corners with confidence and retains MINI’s famed go-kart feel thanks to MINI fitting dynamic damping to go with the drive mode select. Out on the highway, the best mode to drive in would be comfort mode, because of the cars firm suspension. The John Cooper Works Countryman received cosmetic changes with the deletion of the fog lamps to accommodate air intakes one of which feeds an extra radiator.

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman

If there is a car that MINI that ticks so many boxes for me, it has to be the Clubman. The second generation one has so much more character, it’s a proper city slicker, twisty road killer and highway cruiser. The Clubman JCW is also powered by the same 2.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged petrol engine making developing 170kW and 350Nm of torque found in the Countryman JCW. The Clubman handles much better than Countryman JCW, thanks to a lower center of gravity, and ALL4 all-wheel-drive system the Clubman is a recipe for pure fun and exciting driving. The John Cooper Works Clubman also sees some cosmetic changes with the deletion of the fog lamps to accommodate air intakes one of which feeds an extra radiator.

Mini Clubman JCW_093.jpg

Both these cars are pretty fun to drive, with both having their drawbacks. The Clubman being those twin doors, the way the pillar is placed obscures rear vision, and the Countryman is its price tag. But there’s different strokes for different folks, mine happens to be the Clubman. Hopefully before the end of the year I can give a full review once I have some more time to spend with the cars.

Pricing

John Cooper Works Clubman R558 612
John Cooper Works Clubman AT R584 516
John Cooper Works Countryman R610 612
John Cooper Works Countryman AT R636 516

Gallery

MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman

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