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The latest member of the 300hp club — the MINI JCW Clubman 306hp.

Not many cars with a hatchback-style body is capable of producing more than 300hp, as transferring more than 250 horses to the front wheels alone would require a sophisticated front-suspension layout and a set of high-performance rubbers.

Some of them are fitted with an all-wheel drive to channel the power more efficiently and make driving them less demanding.

In recent years, we have seen the 310hp Honda Civic Type-R and the monstrous 355hp Mercedes-AMG A 45 (previous gen, no longer on sale).

Also worth mentioning are the Volkswagen Golf R Mk7.5 and the Renault Megane RS 280 that we recently tested.

Although not exceeding the 300 power mark - the Golf makes 287hp and the Megane makes 280hp - both pack a serious punch for what they are.

Well, we now have the latest member of the 300hp club, the MINI JCW Clubman 306hp.

You didn’t see this coming, did you?

The Clubman, along with the Countryman, were launched by BMW Malaysia a few months ago to receive John Cooper Works treatment.

JCW flavour

This means the duo gets red contrasting around their front grilles, on the hood, roof, side mirrors and around the sides.

The front fascia is sharper and more aggressive too, with unique spoiler and splitter, as well as more intakes for the potent engine to breathe and get enough cooling.

The MINI Clubman is also fitted with a set of gorgeous JCW Circuit 19-inch wheels, JCW brakes and motorsport-tuned sports suspension that lowers the car’s ride height by 10mm.

Completing the exterior look is the John Cooper Works badges on the front grille, tail gate and either sides of the fenders.

Speaking of tail gate personally, the split rear doors on the Clubman not only makes the car a unique six-door model in the market, but is also a cool factor that could simply be the deciding factor to buy the car.

I mean, how could you not like the fancy look when the split rear doors are opened?

And the operation is pneumatically-powered, so extra marks for fanciness there.

The interior is pretty much similar to the Cooper S Clubman, but the JCW version welcomes a set of sports seats with suede-like inserts and red contrast-stitching of the JCW lettering on the steering wheel and stainless steel pedals.

Now to the exciting bit, the engine.

It is a 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo unit making 306hp and 450Nm of torque.

The engine previously made 231hp and 350Nm of torque on the 2018 model-year JCW Clubman. But this time, it has been thoroughly revised to make a lot more grunt.

This includes reduced compression ratio from 10.2 to 9.5, but combined with a much higher turbocharging pressure and a repositioned air intake so that the potent engine can breathe denser air.

The internals have been strengthened and upgraded, too, to withstand the extra forces circulating within the engine.

This engine is paired with an eight-speed Sports transmission, and power is distributed to all four wheels via the ALL4 all-wheel drive system.

And yes, this whole engine, transmission and drive setup is the similar one bolted to the upcoming BMW M135i xDrive hot hatch.

So, in essence, is this going to feel like the Beemer behind the wheel?

The two cars do share the same platform and have similar wheelbase measurements.

Not quite, I bet, as the Clubman is slightly taller and JCW flavours sure give the MINI a unique feel and sensation.

The drive

Compared with the JCW Countryman we tested last month, the Clubman drives pretty similarly in terms of feel, along with all the controls.

The main difference is that we are seated lower in the Clubman as the two cars have about 110mm difference in height.

But the JCW Clubman delivered a serious performance and pace.

The engine wrung out power smoothly throughout the range, accompanied by a sharp note from the JCW-tuned exhaust at the lower end and transitioned to a spread out orchestra towards the redline.

Then the transmission gives a snappy kind of fart when upshifting, sending you to a ridiculous speed in no time.

The car already displayed its character of sharp steering, rigid chassis and firm suspension at low speed, so when the explosive engine catapulted the car to triple-digit speed, the sporty character was instantly amplified.

But it was not something I would say was tiresome.

The sensation was just engaging and it encouraged you to pay more respect to it, and at the same time, you would like to throw it around corners.

When the road got twisty, you could feel the suspension, steering and drivetrain work in solid harmony.

The JCW-flavoured Clubman can now run in the same pack as the AMG A45s, Golfs, Evos and Imprezas on Sunday morning drives to Genting Highlands, or sit proudly in one of the pits at the Sepang paddock between sessions on a track day.

It’s just got all the hardware needed for those occasions.

But the MINI JCW Countryman can behave like a regular family car if you want it to, although slightly compromised.

Just dial down the drive mode switch on the bottom of the centre console from Sport to Mid or Green, and the throttle response and transmission shift logic become more sedated.

The adaptive suspension is softer in Mid, although it was hard to notice, but the steering feel was noticeably lighter.

It can sit four adults comfortably over a long journey as the rear seats are pretty well-padded.

But over road imperfections, the ride can be bumpy and a little busy.

Verdict

Personally, MINI cars are always for those who put style and appearance over anything else.

You can be underdressed while driving a Mercedes E-Class and people will think that you are a tauke who is about to go for coffee with one of your clients.

But you need to be equally stylish driving a new MINI, rocking H&M tops and Adidas Superstar sneakers.

With the JCW Clubman, however, it is for those style-centric owners who value driving satisfaction and want a bit of an adrenaline rush in their daily roundabouts.

It was hard to believe that the chic and fashionable MINI could deliver such a performance, but there it is, the latest member of the 300 horses club.

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