MINI'S £28K GOLF GTI CHALLENGER
Another new MINI, another niche created
That’s £2360 more than a five-door Golf GTI. Bold, huh? Well, hang on, reckons MINI. This, see, is not only a 218hp hatch (with the 1.6-litre turbo four-pot beating the Golf GTI by 8hp), but it’s also a four-wheel drive one – and, in coming with ALL4 as standard, it becomes the brand’s first four-wheel drive JCW variant.
The John Cooper Works Countryman is fast enough to match the GTI on performance, with 0-62mph taking 7.0 seconds and torque level-pegging the Golf on 207lb ft. The unashamedly retro-influenced shape (and, presumably, four-wheel drive drag) does see it top out 9mph down on the Golf though, at 140mph.
Suspension is 10mm lower than a Cooper S, with stiffer springs and dampers, while the anti-roll bars are also bigger. MINI’s painted the brake calipers red and also fitted “extra-lightweight” (forged?) 18-inch wheels as standard, with 19”s optional. Oh, and there’s an aero kit compromising new front and rear aprons plus bigger side skits, although as figures aren’t quoted, we can’t imagine it’s as effective as last week’s MINI John Cooper Works GP.
Inside, you’re also in no doubt it’s a hot hatch MINI, with sports seats and steering wheel, Golf GTI-inspired black rooflining, tinted speedo and rev counter dials plus piano black strips for the dash.
Sports seats are optional: they come with Lounge Leather finished in, yes, ‘Carbon Black Championship Red’ with matching Chili Red interior trim strips. It does offer a choice of four- or five-seat rear bench though, and here’s the rub: in offering yet another JCW variant, MINI’s expanding the reach of the brand yet further, in an arguably more convincing way than the MINIs Coupe and Roadster. After all, where does the Cooper S and JCW hatch fan go when they have a family and need five doors plus some semblance of boot space? Why, probably a Golf GTI. Until now..?