By IOL Motoring staff

Oxford, England - Even BMW admits that the John Cooper Works Clubman isn't really a Mini. At 4253mm long on a 2670mm wheelbase, 1800mm wide and 1441mm high, it simply doesn't fit the criteria*.

What it is, is a premium compact hatch-wagon - and looked at in those terms, its credentials are quite impressive. It's the first Clubman derivative to carry the John Cooper Works badge, and it backs that up with a two-litre TwinPower turbopetrol four rated for 170kW from 5000-6000 revs and 350Nm from 1450-4800rpm and a new-generation, electronically controlled all-wheel drive system.

Brembo sports brakes, an electronic differential lock, traction control, adaptive suspension, and a sports exhaust system are standard issue, as are a six-speed manual 'box and 18 inch alloys; an eight-speed auto transmission and 19 inch rims are options.

Either way, it'll hit a hundred from a standing start in a claimed 6.3 seconds and top out at 238km/h.

Also included are LED headlights, driving modes, parking sensors, keyless entry, a multifunction steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and a Visual Boost sound system with a 175mm colour display, USB and auxiliary ports, and Bluetooth connectivity.

One unusual feature carried over from the original Countryman of the 1960s is the split rear doors, rather than a tailgate in the modern idiom. Given that the roof is only 1441mm high, a tailgate would have to lift through about 135 degrees to get out of your face (literally) so it's quite a sensible idea as well as a styling statement.

John Cooper Works trim

The rest is standard crossover architecture: four doors, five seats and a 360 litre cargo bay, expandable by dropping the optionally 40:20:40 split rear seat-backs to 1250 litres.

But the trim is all John Cooper Works, with sports seats in a black Dinamica synthetic leather and fabric mix with red inserts, a dark grey headliner, JCW leather-trimmed steering wheel with multifunction button (and shift paddles on auto models), special gear-lever and instrument display, JCW door-sill trims, and stainless-steel pedals and driver footrest.

All the infotainment functions and add-ons on the (very long) options list for the Mini Cooper S Clubman are also available for the John Cooper Works, as well as three different styles of sports interior trim, chromed interior metalwork, a bespoke leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, a special lighting package and go-fast stripes.

The new Mini John Cooper Works Clubman will be released in South Africa in the second quarter of 2017.

*For the record, Alec Issigonis' original 1959 Mini was 3054mm long on a 2026mm wheelbase, 1397mm wide and 1346mm high.

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