The inclusion of the 2017 MINI Clubman John Cooper Works model in this year’s Lightning Lap list did take us by surprise. To be honest, we don’t really know why the guys from Car and Driver decided it would be able to keep up with the rest of the cars in its class but nonetheless, it was interesting to see it go at it on the track, a place where probably nobody except journalists would ever think of taking the Clubman, even in JCW guise.
On paper, the six-door Brit does seem to be quite fast off the line. Under its hood hides a B48 2-liter 4-cylinder modular engine making 231 PS and up to 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque. That’s sent to all four corners of the car through the standard ALL4 intelligent all-wheel drive system thanks to an Aisin-sourced 8-speed gearbox. The car does handle its 1.5-ton weight nicely but you can notice plenty of body roll, especially when taking tight corners in a hasty fashion.
And that’s exactly what the guys from Car and Driver did, squeezing every bit of performance out of the poor MINI on the Virginia International Raceway. This is also quite a complicated and demanding track. In the end, the John Cooper Works Clubman finished its run around VIR in 3:16 flat, a lap time that puts it 8 seconds behind the BMW M240i, 4.5 seconds behind the Subaru WRX with the Performance Package and just 0.6 seconds behind the Hardtop.
As a matter of fact, the most surprising thing about its lap time is that the MINI JCW Hardtop is just 0.6 seconds faster. Considering how much lighter it is, something definitely doesn’t seem right here and we’re rather curious to find out what. Truth be told, we don’t know if the lap times were set by the same driver and that could make up for a lot of this confusion.