Mental Minis

If you ever find yourself in the enviable position of having to choose between a Mini Cooper S or a John Cooper Works don’t even think about it.

Just get the Cooper Works. It’s fantastic. I drove the last one back from the south of France to England and I remember that I wrote: “Have you ever wondered how 155mph feels in a Mini?”

This new one, which goes on sale as a Clubman and Countryman in July, is considerably quicker.

Its 2.0-litre four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine has been completely redesigned to produce an incredible 75hp more than the old car, at 306hp, while torque is up too, by 100Nm to 450Nm (333lb).

Thanks to that massive kick up the backside the Clubman now blasts from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds. Its previous figure was 6.3s. That’s a huge difference.

The Countryman, despite its vast size, isn’t far behind. 0-62mph comes up in 5.1s (was 6.6s).

Both cars get a new 8-speed Steptronic autobox and four wheel drive as standard, along with a new exhaust system and bigger John Cooper Works brakes, which seems reasonable considering how much more powerful it is.

Add variable valve and camshaft control on the intake and exhaust sides, changes to the crankshaft drive and a new vibration damper with optimised cooling so the engine always runs at the correct temperature, and you begin to see how much work has been done to the car.

The Clubman averages 38.1 – 39.8 mpg with CO2 emissions of 161 – 169g/km while the figures for the Countryman are 38.7 – 40.9mpg and 156 – 166g/km.

Owners BMW say: “The sound of the newly developed sport exhaust system is dramatic, however when driving at a relaxed pace the sound is more reserved.”

Not surprisingly they add: “These are most powerful models ever approved for public road use in Mini’s 60 year history.” Surprise, surprise.

So can you afford it? The Clubman is £34,250 and the Countryman is £35,550.