Month: November 2019

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman & Countryman

MINI JCW Clubman Review

New MINI John Cooper Works Clubman & Countryman

Mini has just launched the updated versions of their Clubman and Countryman models, and although some manufacturers are guilty of skimping when it comes to updates – Mini is not one of them.

MINI JCW Countryman
Current norms dictate that when a car receives a facelift it receives slightly more power and very minor aesthetic updates, however, Mini have challenged the status quo by giving the new Clubman JCW a new powerplant (Same as M35i) which forks out 55kW more than the outgoing version. Despite the extra ponies, the car remains composed with Minis ALL4 version of all-wheel drive. This means that although the extra power allows the driver to have some fun, it still remains one of Mini’s more mature products in the line-up.

MINI JCW Clubman Rear
At the launch, we drove both the Clubman Cooper S and the Clubman JCW respectively along the same roads to ensure as close a comparison as possible. The Cooper S, even though its down on power when compared with the JCW, still manages to be engaging, and can be shaken loose on corners while still giving the driver enough input to be predictable. Our Clubman Cooper S test unit did suffer from torque steer at wide-open throttle, though this didn’t detract too much from the
thrill-factor. The JCW, however remained composed no matter what command was sent through the steering wheel. We put it through its paces and the AWD coupled with a specifically redesigned chassis refused to allow the car to step out of line.

When you get into the drivers seat of this version, it is unmistakably JCW. The seats are partially wrapped in alcantara, the JCW logo is tastefully interspersed around the cockpit, the steering-wheel has been beefed up and has colour coded stitching and the instrument cluster hints that this is the ultimate Mini performance machine. A reminder of this is given upon start-up when the new exhaust system burbles and pops. This did seem a bit gimmicky though as there was no burble during actual driving. That being said, between the blow-off of the turbo and the actual exhaust note (which has been carefully tuned) the sound of this car could appeal to anyone from mature, level-headed adults through to the boy-racers at the other end of the spectrum.


Even though Mini have followed suit with a touchscreen infotainment system, they have kept all of the physical buttons with clear icons/labels, allowing ease of navigation and familiarity while incorporating a more modern system. We did notice that the main control bezel rotated the opposite way to nearly every other car we’ve seen. This, however once we were acquainted with, was no longer an issue.

Overall, the Clubman JCW is an strong value proposition. The 6 door setup and long wheelbase means that this can be an exceptional travel companion for you and your family. I dare say that the sheer thrill made possible by the new powertrain and practicality of this driver’s car means that it may have finally stated its case in being a possible alternative to the Golf R.

MINI JCW Highlights:

  • The Clubman JCW is propelled from 0 – 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds.
  • Cogs are selected through a responsive 8 Speed Steptronic sports transmission.
  •  A newly added mechanical differential means the power is put down on the road more
    effectively.
  • Mini have added a bigger brake-rotor system which WORK (Warning: switching from the
    Cooper S to the JCW and not tempering your pedal input can result in minor whiplash).
  • New exhaust system which emits a rather pleasant note. Sporty yet not obnoxious.

MINI JCW Facts:

  • R642,000
  • 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine
  • 225kW
  • 450Nm
  • 7-litres/100km

MINI JCW Pricing in South Africa

Prices for the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and MINI John Cooper Works Countryman start from R642 000 and R708 000, respectively.

Porsche Macan Turbo – just how good is it?

Is the new Porsche Macan Turbo as good as the competition?

We drive the new Porsche Macan Turbo in South Africa

This obsession with SUV’s and speed is one that will never end. The really fast stuff began with the likes of the Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and BMW X5M. Let’s not forget the underdog Jeep Cherokee SRT8. That generation of fast and large SUV’s proved that big and tall objects can move at a rapid pace, as rapid as some sports cars of that time too. Fast forward to 2019 and this “fast and large” ethos has watered down to the mid-size variants of various premium brands. There are now quick, fast and simply silly options available for the affluent driver who doesn’t want something too big, but also requires reasonable space. The two biggest names playing in the silly space is the MercedesAMG GLC 63S and the newly launched BMW X3M Competition. Both these vehicles produce 375kW, both accelerate fast enough to outrun an apocalypse, and both cost a pretty penny. Whilst I have spent a good amount of time in the Mercedes-AMG, “SamTheMotoristhas driven both BMW and Mercedes and he can confirm that they feel equally as ballistic.

Porsche Macan Turbo South Africa

 

I, on the other hand, have recently sampled Leipzig’s new kid on the block, the Porsche Macan Turbo. On paper the Porsche is the “slowest”, with the Merc achieving a sub 4 second 0-100 times, 3.8 seconds to be exact – whilst the X3M does a 4.1 second run and the Macan completes the sprint in 4.3 seconds. Here’s the thing, the Macan is exactly 51kW down on power compared to its rivals. This leads me to the point I want to make, how the Porsche manages to allow the driver to extract all of it power, with Golf GTI ease of drive. See whilst the Mercedes is an occasion to pilot, it’s rapidness keeps you awake. Always. The car is loud, it’s hard and it never stops reminding you that it’s an AMG. If a hardcore experience is what you’re after, the GLC probably takes the cake. If we can liken the various cars in this class to utensils, the Merc would be a meat tenderizer – it just wants to bludgeon everything in its sight. The Macan however is like a razor-sharp carving knife with 600N.m and a 7-speed PDK gearbox, giving you the ability to finesse the roads in an inch perfect manner – something I happily did on the launch in Cape Town.

See there’s this thing Porsche do with their cars, no matter the size or the engine. A driver-focused experience is always a top priority. The “just right” philosophy can be seen in the development of the Macan Turbo. It certainly doesn’t feel as fast as the Mercedes in a straight line, but it doesn’t have to. It offers you the right amount of power, all the time. In a straight line, it hauls, in corners it stays flat and you can get on top of the V6 twin-turbocharged powerplant, without it feeling like it’s going to bite you. The Macan Turbo’s power and chassis combination make it a very accessible SUV to throw into corners, should they arise. The beauty of all this is that with a flick of a switch you can calm it all down and listen to the V6 purr away, as you explore some creature comforts offered in the Porsche.

Porsche Macan Turbo Rear South Africa

The interior is minimalistic and very high quality. Metals are metal, switches click with sturdiness – German engineering is very apparent. The Macan is also millennial-friendly, with Apple CarPlay making it easy to connect and the infotainment system reacts with the confidence of any VW/Audi Group product. Ergonomically it all makes sense and it’s all geared around the driver. Your passengers aren’t left out though. There’s enough space for the taller ones and enough boot space for babies as well. It’s not vast inside the Macan Turbo, but it sure is cozy.

Porsche Macan Turbo Interior South Africa

Being a Porsche, there’s a feel-good factor involved when driving this car. It’s a combination of the brand appeal and the excellence of the product. This is not just a fast, mid-sized SUV, it’s a car that can be used day in and day out without getting tiring because the Pitbull of an engine up front wants to play all the time, such as is the case in the Mercedes. That’s where I feel the Porsche has the upper hand, the same upper hand it’s siblings such as the 911 have – you don’t get tired driving these cars. It’s not all about the power, it’s about the balance between occasional hooliganism and the real world. The Porsche Macan Turbo works in the real world. At approximately R1 650 000, it’s not back pocket money.

Porsche Macan Turbo pricing in South Africa

The Porsche Macan Turbo works in the real world. At approximately R1 650 000, it’s not back pocket money. The BMW comes in as the cheapest at R1 495 000, the Mercedes is the most expensive at R1 668 420 – leaving the Porsche in the middle. This segment is not a bargain game though, it’s a badge game and we all know which keys shine brightest in this situation. What’s most impressive about the Macan Turbo is how it can stand toe to toe with its competitors, whilst packing much less power. Sometimes less is more.  

Spec yours here