• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

Potent mini machine

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 In the lexicon of automotive engineering, the Mini brand stands for fun, and when you add the John Cooper Works nomenclature to the back of the car, even more so. And, by default, their new model launches follow suit and provide for a great day out of the office and home and ideal for weekend outings to places where families, new couples and loved ones can relax.

Somehow, you may not be a big fan of the MINI Countryman, but it is better to understand and appreciate what the manufacturers are doing by offering this model, as do the owners of a Countryman. Simply put, it offers more space and it is more of a family-oriented car.

Traditionally, one may prefer his or her MINI a little smaller, traditional and selfish like it should be. Down memory lane, during a presentation, it was revealed that the JCW version will only come in all-wheel drive and offer a six-speed auto box for the first time to go with the standard six-speed manual offering.

This is still a potent machine that features a new generation direct fuel injection 1.6 litre turbo-charged engine that produces a nice 160 kW and 280 Nm of power and torque. This is considered good enough on paper to see the Countryman JCW get to 100km/h in 7.0 seconds for both automatic and manual derivatives, while stopping at 225km/h and 223km/h for the auto on top.

As to be expected, MINI claims low emissions of 172 grams (184 grams auto) of carbon per km and fuel consumption averages of 7.4 litres (7.9 litres auto) per 100 km. The Countryman JCW certainly feels punchy on the trot. On twisty roads, making liberal use of the manual gearbox may be seen as a threat by some owners, yet the MINI remains commuters’ delight.

Now let us take a look at the suspension. Although the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system distributes drive seamlessly between the front and rear axles using an electromagnetic centre differential, it will be the same kind of roads that will reveal MNIN suspension setup that did not like ruts and ripples, especially mid corner as a well reinforced piece of metal capable of withstanding and weathering all kinds of road surfaces.

Thankfully, you do have a DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system that includes DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), with which on smooth tar occupants of the car will be sure of smooth and welcoming driving pleasure.

Wrapping up the dynamic package, you have the visual impact of the JCW GP. Large front and rear aprons, striking side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler are complemented by a newly developed rear diffuser. This optimises airflow around the under-body. The interior of the MINI John Cooper Works GP also contributes to the car’s racing feeling. With the rear seats removed, it focuses unashamedly on the needs of the driver and co-driver – like it should.

Inside, the Countryman JCW morphs back into a predictable hot hatch with a trendy interior and space to match which complements its looks as a smooth car that could be described as a worthy companion. If you are going to drive a JCW MINI, have it in mind that it needs to be quick when handling it with all the other good hot hatches out there.

For the current MINI, exclusivity is the name of the game here, and for this you have an exclusive power train, chassis and aerodynamics technology inspired directly by motorsport.

At conventional and normal corners, its twin-scroll turbo engine produces the same quoted numbers as the Countryman at 160 kW and 280 Nm, but generates remarkable elasticity out of the corners, thanks to reduced weight over the normal MINI. It also features a specially developed, adjustable race suspension that allows for precise and very controllable handling.

This car has the ability to humble many a quicker street car at the track, and is the closest you can get to owning a Super Series production race car at a fraction of the price. I have to concede that MINI still offers plenty for the enthusiast and young family alike. In summary, the story of MINI is a story for another day.

 

MIKE OCHONMA