MINI is getting serious about the sports hatchbacks segment. According to AutoExpress, MINI is preparing a 300 horsepower all-wheel drive Clubman JCW Hatchback to take on the Ford Focus RS.

A source told the UK magazine: “There’s room for expansion in the hot hatch market. I think there is potential. Britain is the home of MINI, and Britain is a strong market for the hot hatch.”

MINI is pitching the new Clubman at a different audience to the outgoing car and the new hot hatch would take a growing segment of powerful hatches.

MINI Cooper S Clubman-Pure Burgundy metallic-images-77

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

The RS3 and Focus RS deliver more than 345 horsepower an can run from 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in less than five seconds. Top speed is limited to 150mph while the all-wheel-drive system helps with traction in less ideal weather situations.

The rumormill churns out that the tuned up Clubman will use an upgraded version of the MINI’s 2.0 liter turbocharged. The highest output that engine delivers now is 250 horsepower in the 330i. That car does 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, so a lighter, more powerful, four-wheel-drive JCW could easily drop below five.

“It was the right choice to offer the flexibility of the six-speed automatic and manual in the existing JCW,” the source says when asked about the transmission choices. “There’s an almost equal 50:50 sales split.”

If the car comes to market, we expect to see a slightly modified bodystyle with flared wheelarches, custom wheels and the iconic MINI red trim. 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.