The greatest thing that I’ve been able to appreciate running Marvin for the last few years is travelling through doing what I love and discovering the beautiful corners of South Africa as a result. When you are born and bred in Johannesburg, you get very comfortable with just visiting places that have a beach because we don’t have one. One thing I looked forward to with the Mini Cooper Clubman and Countryman launch was going to Mpumalanga. Funny enough the previous weekend we had travelled to the same area shooting the Mercedes Benz G63 AMG.
The Mini Cooper Clubman is the only Mini Cooper car that I haven’t driven and this was my time to give it a shot and understand what makes this car interesting besides the split doors at the back. The Mini Clubman elevates the definition of “niche model” to an entirely new level and, whereas the concept of a van/estate Mini may not be to everyone’s taste, the cabinet-doored Clubman is unlike anything else on our roads. As it stands, the Mini portfolio comprises a diverse selection of models. There really is a Mini for everyone; traditionalists can opt for the 3- or 5-door hatchback, or the cheeky, stylish convertible, or, if practicality is high on their list of requirements, the Countryman. But what if you want to broadcast your individualism? Well, for that, there’s the Clubman.
At launch, there are three derivatives available; a Cooper, Cooper S and, for those who crave compelling performance, a John Cooper Works version, but more on the range-topper later. All versions are equipped with automatic transmissions and feature turbocharged petrol engines. The Cooper has a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine with 100 kW and 220 Nm. This may be an entry-level motor, but its performance is more than adequate (Mini claims a 0-100 kph sprint time of 9.2 seconds for the Cooper). By virtue of being a 3 cylinder mill, it happens to emit a pleasingly rorty exhaust note.
The Cooper S, meanwhile, features a 2.0-litre 4-pot engine and it’s decidedly faster, courtesy of its 141 kW and 280 Nm outputs (it’ll hit 100 kph from standstill in about 7.2 seconds, which is brisk). At the top of the pile is the Clubman JCW with a 2.0-litre turbocharged motor churning out 225 kW and 450 Nm. The first 2 derivatives are front-wheel driven, but the JCW features all-wheel drive and will reportedly scoot to 100 kph in 4.9 seconds.
The one thing that I love about the Clubman and the Countryman is the options that you get with both cars, Clubman is much more for the city and Countryman much for the outdoors, depending on how much traveling you do maybe on gravel roads or going home to Tshamahansi, Limpopo. I personally love the Countryman because it feels big enough for a small family and the Clubman works if you are gonna be based in the city most of the time. Mini Cooper will always be that cool car that is practical but also you can have fun with it and that’s what we did on the open roads of Mpumalanga. You can easily do 200km per hour on the John Cooper Works and it can handle itself around corners as well. I found the car comfortable driving on long roads and being able to overtake with quick precision. We encountered a tyre burst while driving to lunch at the River Cafe in Summerfield Estate. The people of Mini Cooper were ready with a replacement tyre in no time for us to go back on the road. After lunch, we did our driver change and carried on to explore a bit of Nelspruit and to drive back to the airport. Discovered the Summerfield Estate and that they make Gin from litchis, called Duke, which is named after the owner’s dog.
The drive back to the airport was chilled as you move through town and I’m happy about the changes they have made with both models, now I can’t wait to have these cars for longer tests and do a thorough review. Below are the changes Mini Copper has made on these models.
The new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.
• New 4-cylinder engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo technology
and 225 kW with 450 Nm.
• Increase in output compared to the previous models: 55 kW.
• Cooling concept incorporates know-how from the race track.
• New exhaust system with remarkable sound development and
Petrol particulate particulate filter compliant with the Euro 6d-TEMP standard.
• MINI ALL4 all-wheel drive as standard.
• New 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission with integrated mechanical differential lock for the front wheel.
• Model-specific chassis design and coordination.
• New bigger John Cooper Works sport brake system.
• Extremely rigid body structure, motor connection and chassis fastenings.
• New LED headlights with Matrix high beam function and LED rear lights in Union Jack design in the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman.