When you think modified Mini, the John Cooper Works (JCW) nameplate is primary in any petrolhead’s frame of reference.Beyond Mini’s in-house modified JCW models (which offer some of the most authentic hot-hatch motoring around) there now is a new option fettled by legendary Italian engine builder Romeo Ferraris.Considering Ferraris traditionally specialises in tuning Fiat’s 500 (both the original and contemporary models) the concept of a tuned Mini was obvious. CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF ITALYIronically, Romeo Ferraris says his idea of building a tuned Mini was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Italian confederation. Considering the naming disaster Ferrari’s F1 team suffered attempting a similar bout of nationalism earlier in 2011, it’s perhaps an inspiration best avoided.Using the best proportioned model in Mini’s range (the Clubman) as a platform, Romeo Ferraris and his technicians set about embellishing the compact station wagon’s exterior details with some typically elaborate Italian styling trinkets. A harmonised approach is Romeo Ferraris’s trademark. As such the Clubman received thorough mechanical upgrades to guarantee performance commensurate to its ornate styling modifications. Rolling 19-inch dual-tone alloy wheels sourced from OZ (which hide the upsized Brembo brakes), the Romeo Ferraris Countryman rides lower thanks to adjustable coil-over suspension at all four wheel corners (increasing mechanical grip).CHROME GO-FASTER STRIPESThe most notable exterior styling upgrade is undoubtedly the custom matte blue surfacing, which contrasts strikingly with chrome bumper-to-bumper racing stripes and a blacked-out front grille. All things considered it looks tasteful yet purposely boy-racer(ish). To ensure the 150th anniversary Clubman is as quick as its circuit racing refugee looks would suggest the 1.6-litre turbocharged four gains a new inlet manifold and improved intercooler (all harmonised by improved engine control software) to boost peak output to 167kW and swell torque to 328Nm. Those gains tally 12 units of power and 48Nm of torque more than Mini’s JCW models. A job well done then? Very much so. It’s just awfully ironic that Italy’s best small-car aftermarket tuner would chose a German engineered, British nameplate to celebrate 150 years of the Italian confederation…At least it's sure to attract less controversy than Ferrari's effort.