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by Richard Ingram, 17 Nov, 2015

Exclusive image shows look of sizzling new four-wheel-drive Brit, set to battle Focus RS and Audi RS3 with uprated 2.0-litre turbo

MINI is looking to hit Volkswagen and Ford where it hurts, with a new 300bhp four-wheel-drive hot JCW hatchback – and our exclusive image shows how it could look.

Auto Express has received exclusive information from a MINI insider about the brand’s desire to up the ante in its hot hatch range. Our source told us: “There’s room for expansion in the hot hatch market.”

They added: “I think there is potential. Britain is the home of MINI, and Britain is a strong market for the hot hatch.”

When pushed for more information, we were told that there are no plans for a five-door John Cooper Works, but that the Clubman is “different turf”.

Our insider’s comments back up spy shots. And with MINI pitching the new Clubman at a different audience to the outgoing car, a hot version would target the recent influx of super-powerful hatches.

The standard Clubman is bigger, faster and more efficient than before, and is now aimed at models like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. So a hot version would need at least 230bhp to battle the likes of the Golf GTI or Focus ST. But our source hinted MINI had its sights set a little higher.

“Look at that market,” we were told. “Most are four-wheel drive.” This suggests MINI is looking to topple cars like the all-wheel-drive Focus RS and Audi RS3. Our source added: “We can integrate the ALL4 system, and it won’t be long before we communicate something in this direction.”

Both the Focus and RS3 have upwards of 345bhp, can cover 0-62mph in less than five seconds and top 150mph. The four-wheel-drive systems mean they can put their power down in all weather, too.

Our insider wouldn’t elaborate on what would power the super-Clubman, but an uprated version of the MINI’s existing 2.0-litre turbo seems likely. This engine is used largely unchanged in the BMW 3 Series – it’s found in the 330i with as much as 249bhp. That car does 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, so a lighter, more powerful, four-wheel-drive JCW could easily slash another second off that time.

The hot Clubman is also expected to be offered with manual and automatic gearboxes. We were told: “It was the right choice to offer the flexibility of the six-speed automatic and manual in the existing JCW. There’s an almost equal 50:50 sales split.”

Setting it apart from the Cooper S are likely to be unique alloys, sporty red trim and pumped-up wheelarches. The bonnet scoop and LED daytime running lights will be carried over from the S, with MINI’s extensive list of options – including adaptive dampers and sports exhaust – available, too.

The boisterous powertrain could also make its way into the all-new Countryman SUV, due in the next two years. Although our source expressed the MINI team’s desire to take on the four-wheel-drive mega hatches, any super-hot MINI is at least a couple of years away.

Rivals: What JCW has to beat

Audi RS3

At £40,795, the RS3 offers supercar pace in a practical package. Five-cylinder engine gives 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds

Mercedes-AMG A45

AMG-tuned A 45 is currently the most powerful hot hatch on sale. Its 376bhp turbo delivers 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds

Ford Focus RS

Ford rewrote the hot hatch rulebook when it announced that the 345bhp Focus RS would be priced at less than £30,000

Volkswagen Golf R

Just as the JCW MINI will be, the Golf R is offered with manual or auto boxes – the latter cuts 0-62mph time by four-tenths

300bhp-plus MINI Clubman JCW targets Focus RS | Auto Express
 

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Interesting....
 

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All4 AWD system won't be able to keep up with FoRS.

Maybe it's just me but the front end of these new minis is just hideous. My wife drives the last gen JCW coupe and with the piggyback tune its a fun car and still looks sharp.

This one just has wierd swoopy openings that don't seem to fit the proportions of the front end. The standard MCS is even worse in this regard.

Nothing about a 300hp "mini" (I use that term very loosely with this new body) excites me.
 

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Nothing about a 300hp "mini" (I use that term very loosely with this new body) excites me.
Me neither. The original MINI was a cool car for its time, but now that the new MINI's have to comply with regulations, they're much too MAXI. Never been a fan of modern MINI.
 

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Looks to me that the Mini has it's tongue sticking out.

Fun little cars but the Clubman is a bit too much for the real Mini owners.
 

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Mini/BMW need to fire their designers. The first gen Mini was a nice tribute to the original. More recently they've taken the Mini-logo design language to ridiculous levels - circles and wing shapes influencing every freaking thing in/on the car.

Mini.jpg
 

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I had a feeling this was coming from mini. I guess Chevy is up next to suprise us.
 

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Will have no chance vs the FoRS. Will most likely be way heavier, not as agile, cost atleast the same and maintenance costs will also incluede your firstborn.
 

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Will have no chance vs the FoRS. Will most likely be way heavier, not as agile, cost atleast the same and maintenance costs will also incluede your firstborn.
I think it will undercut the FoRS by at least 100 lbs, the Countryman weighs 3350 with AWD and the Clubman is a little smaller. I also think it will be north of 40K, build a JCW on Mini and see how easy it is to get that starting price of 32K up to 40K.
 

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Actually I rented a Countryman S All4 turbo a couple months back when I when to the west side of NC. Wife liked it so I'm hopeful that she'll like the feel of the RS too, though I know they are very different.
 

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Any manufacturer has the opportunity to outgun the RS, if they are willing to put the effort in. Since the RS is due to be on the streets shortly, all a manufacturer needs to do is buy one. Then it's just a matter of throwing money at whatever product they have until it's better than the RS. However, the bar is set so high (so far) that it might not be feasible from a profit standpoint. But that doesn't mean one of the bigger manufacturers couldn't do a small run of cars as a FU to Ford.
 

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Sadly, no sound.


 
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