For almost five years we’ve been telling you about MINIs plans to offer a 302 hp MINI Countryman and Clubman as major upgrades to the two products. We’ve had sources on both sides of the Atlanta telling about the new models in great detail and that’s more recently been backed up by the BMW X2 M35i developing (you guessed it) 302 hp. Then late last year we got what might have been our first real hints that they’re indeed coming.
For those of you who listened to our wide-ranging interview with Pat McKenna, you’ll hear him slip in how excited he is about a few unannounced products. “The updated JCW Countryman and Clubman, I’m thrilled those are coming to market. I think it’ll be a reminder for everyone that fun to drive is what drives this brand,” McKenna said. Is this subtle hint the one we’ve been waiting for? Pat didn’t say anything other than updated. But it’s not hard to put two and two together given what our sources have told us.
So what are these updated JCW Countryman and Clubman models and why should you care? While sources had given us detailed information for years on these cars, BMW recently revealed its long awaited 300 hp four cylinder engine under the hood of the BMW X2 M35i. Long awaited because we’ve been telling you about this engine and MINI’s plans to use it a 300 hp MINI JCW for almost five years now. Now that we have a few official details, let’s dive in and take a closer look.
302 hp MINI Countryman & Clubman – The Likely Technical Details
The B48A20T1 2.0L generates 302 hp @ 5,000 – 6,250 rpm in the new X2 M35i – figures that should be similar (if not identical) figure in the upcoming MINIs. However more impressive is its torque – 332 lb-ft. @ 1,750 – 4,500 rpm. The combination of those figures with improved xDrive/All4 and the Aisin 8G45 8 speed automatic will move the X2 M35i to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Compare that to the 6.3 seconds it takes the X2 30i (using the current 228 hp JCW engine) and you have an idea of what the JCW Countryman will do with the same power. With the current JCW hitting 60 mph in 6.2 sec it’s safe to expect we will see a 0-60 mph time at or below 4.9 seconds.
According to the recent BMW press release, “to achieve such high performance results, BMW M left almost no major engine component group untouched.” If we’re to take this sentence at face value, this would be the first MINI with any BMW M magic applied to it.
What did they do specifically? To start with the crankshaft has been reinforced and features larger main bearings. Then there are new pistons fitted with slightly reduced compression ratio (9.5:1 vs 10.2:1) allowing for a larger turbocharger and increased boost. The intake airflow tract has also been improved for higher flow while the cooling system has been upgraded to keep it all at a proper operating temperature.
To deal with the 332 ft lbs of torque BMW is making all wheel drive standard in the X2 M35i just as MINI will in the upcoming JCWs. Sadly the same can be said for the 8 speed automatic. Yes, the 300 hp MINI JCW Countryman will be the first JCW product (and only the second MINI ever) to not be available with a manual.
The benefit is performance. Leveraging the all wheel drive and 8-speed sport automatic transmission, MINI will offer An improved launch control allowing for consistent all-out sprints from a standing stop. More importantly for the first time ever, a front axle BMW M Sport likely rebranded for MINI) Differential makes its appearance and features Torsen-based limited slip capabilities with up to a 39% lock-up. The new M Sport differential is integrated into the 8-speed automatic transmission which itself features steering wheel shift paddles, M Performance specific tuning, additional transmission cooling and updated gear ratios. Bet on the 300 HP MINI JCW Countryman to see these upgrade as well.
302 hp MINI Countryman & Clubman – Why Automatic Only?
Why would MINI go auto only on its fastest product ever? It likely has a lot to do with take-rates, development costs and performance. The new 300 hp MINI JCW Countryman and Clubman will come standard with a heavily revised version of All4 intelligent all-wheel drive technology (identical to BMW’s xDrive). The precision of engineering that will go into that combination will also allow for an all new launch control that should accelerate these MINIs from 0-60 in under 5 seconds. Further MINI plans a front axle differential featuring Torsen-based limited slip capabilities with up to a 39% lock-up. As much as we’d love to see a manual, the cost of engineering it to work seamlessly with all of these systems is likely prohibitive considering the rather small take-rates.
The automatic will be MINI’s quickest shifting yet and will feature steering wheel shift paddles, M Performance specific tuning, additional transmission cooling and updated gear ratios.
302 hp MINI JCW Countryman & Clubman – Pricing and Availability
While we don’t pricing figures from our sources yet, we have some ideas. The current pricing for the MINI JCW Countryman is $37,900. Where do we expect this much faster version to fall? Clues can be found on the BMW side. The new X2 M35i with this same engine is priced at $46,450. That’s up $8,050 over the X2 28i (which happens to have the current JCW engine in it) by 17%. But we can’t just add 17% the case of the JCW and call it a day. The comparison doesn’t work so easily as the JCWs already have some of the components the X2 M35i (larger brakes and sport seats for example). Therefore we’d expect less of an increase and something closer to a $43k MSRP with well equipped models going over $50k.
$50k for a MINI? Obviously this won’t be just any MINI. With BMW levels of quality and refinement (remember the Countryman is ranked as the highest premium small crossover by Consumer Reports in quality) this is already a car that can go toe to toe with any other small crossover in the marketplace. Add a dramatic increase in performance and you could have a pretty compelling.
And that’s not to even speak of the Clubman which will be priced lower and have even higher levels of performance due to less weight.
We expect the updated 302 hp MINI Countryman & Clubman to be announced this spring with cars hitting showrooms in the second half of the year.