Mini really wants its performance cars taken seriously.
Despite having a solid fleet of go-fast John Cooper Works models, Minis have never really been seen as viable alternatives to hot hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf R or Ford Focus RS. Some of that has to do with the fact that only the larger Minis are related to Ford and VW’s hatchbacks in terms of size, rather than the smaller two-door Cooper JCW, which is better compared to the Fiat 500 Abarth.
But it's really the horsepower deficiency that plays a bigger role in the cold shoulder Mini gets from the hot hatch community. Well, that could all change because the BMW subsidiary has just released new versions of the Countryman JCW and Clubman JCW that boast more power than Mini has previously put into a production model.
The new Clubman JCW and Countryman JCW now make 306 horsepower and 331 ft-lbs of torque by means of a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, giving the two Minis exactly the same amount of horsepower as the Honda Civic Type R. That allows the new Minis to hit 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds in the case of the Clubman and 5.1 seconds if you’re in a Countryman, 1.4 seconds and 1.5 seconds faster than the cars they replace, respectively. Both cars share the same top speed, which works out to 156 mph.
Previous JCW iterations of the Countryman and Clubman made 228 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque using a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, sending power to all four wheels through a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters. That kind of grunt used to propel the Countryman JCW from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds while the Clubman JCW could manage the same sprint in only 6.0 seconds.
Funny thing is, the new engine in these John Cooper Works models isn’t actually all that new. It’s just a modified version of the same 2.0-liter engine found in the Mini Cooper S Clubman and Cooper S Countryman, only now it has a bigger turbocharger with a blow-off valve, a smaller compression ratio, multi-hole fuel injectors, a reinforced crankshaft, a main bearing with an extended cross-section, JCW-specific pistons, more robust connecting rods, a new vibration damper with optimized cooling, and beefed-up engine cooling hardware.
The new machinery helps the engine spit out 75 horsepower more than it did in the S models, all of which is sent to each of the four wheels through Mini’s ALL4 AWD system and new 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission with an integrated mechanical differential lock for the front wheels. And because that wasn’t enough, Mini also made sure to retune the exhaust to sound better as well as to comply with new EU smog regulations before it updated the chassis for rigidity and weight-savings, boosted stopping performance with new brakes, and added optional adjustable dampers to enhance handling.
The exterior also gets a few goodies, including red brake calipers, JCW logos, a red crossbar in the front grille, and optional red mirror caps and roof paint. Be on the lookout for the 2020 Countryman JCW and Clubman JCW later this summer. Mini hasn’t announced pricing for either car, but the JCW versions of the Countryman and Clubman have typically added $6,500 or $5,000 to the price of each car, respectively.