The Clubman is coming soon. Really soon. But that doesn’t mean Clubman developments will cease. A year ago we reported on MINI’s grand plans for the JCW brand starting with the F56 and F57 convertible (debuting late this year) and then adding the Clubman and Countryman. The latter however are the really interesting ones for longtime MINI fans however. With up to 300 hp and all wheel drive reportedly on tap, these will be the fastest MINIs yet. And this spy shot might just be our first look.
Two key things point to this being a potential JCW test mule. First the tell-tale red JCW calipers that are standard on all JCW cars. There’s a chance that they could be simply testing the after sales version of the brakes. But there’s another image that shows what could be a subtle but obvious lump between the rear two wheels. Is that a rear differential driving the rear wheels? It’s almost impossible to know. But what we do know is that MINI is preparing to release a JCW AWD Clubman. So it’s a matter of when, not if. We believe that when is about 18 months away.
Beyond the B48A20O0 found in the just released JCW, sources tell us that BMW and MINI are working on a much higher performance variant of the B48 with a target output as high as 300 hp. The engine is rumored to be destined for use in the BMW high spec versions of the X1, X2 and future FWD versions of the 1 and 2 series hitting dealers later this decade.
These same sources tell us that MINI has plans for this engine in its larger all wheel drive UKL based vehicles – the next generation F54 Clubman and the F60 Countryman. If true this engine will form a the basis of a high output all-wheel drive JCW variant of both cars released as early as 2017.
While nothing has been confirmed at this time, this approach would make a lot of sense from a product and marketing perspective. MINIs are increasingly cross shopped with larger more expensive alternatives on one end. On the other are an increasingly impressive list of rivals with products designed to encroach on MINIs market.
Having different power plants to solve for difference JCW cars makes sense when you look at how BMW M approaches its models. But then of course that begs the question, why not throw the high output 2.0L in the smallest car you have – the F56 hatch? We expect BMW and MINI won’t want to put that much power through the front wheels only and they’ve already commented to us several times that the F56 will not be available in AWD. Yet it remains an attractive idea. Even if the engine is detuned a bit it could make for one hell of a JCW model in the smaller cars.