Johannesburg – What you’re looking at below are quite possibly the fastest barn doors in the world, but only because they’re hinged to the quickest-ever iteration of the Mini Clubman, the John Cooper Works flagship, which is now on sale in South Africa.
Huh? What’s a Clubman? You could say that it’s the closest thing that Mini offers to a traditional estate car, and it has a handy set of barn doors leading to the 360-litre boot, which is hardly enormous but still rather Maxi by Mini standards.
But the big deal here is that you get to have your practicality with true hot hatch performance and handling. Like its JCW hatch siblings, this Clubman is powered by a beefed up version of the 2-litre turbopetrol engine found in the Cooper S, in this case good for 170kW from 5000 to 6000rpm and 350Nm from 1450. Power goes to all four wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed autobox and in both cases the JCW is said to be capable of a 6.3-second 0-100km/h sprint and 238km/h top speed.
The Clubman JCW is kitted out with a Brembo sports braking system as well as Electronic Differential Lock Control and Dynamic Damper control.
The John Cooper Works stamp is also very much visible in the aerodynamic sports body kit, which includes a honeycomb grille, sills, aprons and spoilers as well as contrasting red mirror and roof finishes, and the car runs on unique 18-inch wheels (19-inchers are optional).
The cabin keeps up appearances with JCW sports seats, featuring integrated headrests, a bespoke multi-function steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and anthracite roof liner among other JCW garnishes.
The JCW comes standard with conventional air conditioning and a 16.5cm colour screen housing a Bluetooth-equipped sound system, and there is a massive options list, making you pay extra for a 22.3cm touch-screen, navigation, active cruise control, head-up display, dual zone climate control, ambient lighting with adjustable colours and basically all the cool stuff, apart from the potent engine and dynamic package of course.
How much then?
The Clubman JCW is yours for R558 612 in manual form, or R584 516 if you want the auto.