“The nice thing with this Mini is that apart from looking brutally good and having four doors, it also has the punch to back up the looks.”
At first sight you realise that this is no ordinary Mini, especially the one I had on test with its dual colour and sporty stripes. The test vehicle had a white body colour with a red roof and red stripes that ran the bonnet as well as on the bottom of the doors. The bonnet stripes make a sort of XXX pattern, which really makes the car look wicked.
Added to this, the John Cooper Works (JCW) edition comes with a full body kit that includes larger air intakes in the front bumper and front splitter. The side skirts include protruding air intakes to assist cooling the rear brakes and also make the car look more like a two-door than a four-door vehicle. The look is completed with two bazooka-sized exhaust pipes that are perfectly moulded into the bumper. On closer inspection you realise that these are actually dummy tail-pipes and the real exhaust pipes are behind. This is now becoming the norm on performance vehicles.
The nice thing with this Mini is that apart from looking brutally good and having four doors, it also has the punch to back up the looks. The Countryman comes with a 1.6 litre turbocharged motor that produces 160 kW, which is fed directly to all four wheels. This ensures that you get off the line quickly but, more importantly, it sticks to the road like superglue.
The JCW is actually designed for racing and has been taken directly from the track. It has lighter mag wheels, is more aerodynamically styled, and the engine is pushed to its limit. This is done by turning up the boost pressure of the twin-scroll turbocharger, and to handle the additional heat and pressure, the JCW engine receives a reinforced block and head, stronger, low-compression pistons, sodium-filled exhaust valves, a larger intercooler, and changes to the intake, exhaust and cooling systems. All-in-all this is a very different engine to the normal 1.6 litre turbocharged engine.
Although this Mini is higher and bigger than the Cooper, it has the same go-kart feel to it. The firm ride and almost direct steering wheel feel make for fun driving. Thanks to the four-wheel drive system and the anti-skid braking system it’s not easy to make this Mini slide. The best part though is the raised ride height which makes it possible to drive on our roads with ease and maybe even climb a few curbs.
The test vehicle I had came with the optional four-seat system. This removes the bench rear seat and all the way from the front to rear separating the seats. Inside this, Mini have put in multicolour LED lights that can change colour based on the mood you prefer. This does give the vehicle an almost concept-like feel. In keeping with the sporty look the rest of the interior has also been spruced with splashes of red along the doors and the lower section of the dashboard. The dashboard is typical Mini with its signature oversized speedometer in the centre. All-in-all the vehicle has a very luxurious feel to it.
This is a Mini for people who love a viciously stylish-looking vehicle and a power punch to match but also need the space to carry additional people or goods while not looking to lose any of the fun normally found in a sports car. This is one I would add to my list of to-have cars.
Car courtesy of MINI South Africa.
Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of the SAGMJ.