Let’s say you’re looking for a premium family car that has the assurance of all wheel drive, but has enough poke to excite you every time you prod the loud pedal. Well, there’s a good chance that the new Mini Clubman John Cooper Works could well be up your street.
Packing a punch
This may look like a sensible runaround for your nearest and dearest, but under the bonnet lies quite the firecracker. More specifically, it’s a turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder petrol that delivers 306hp, along with 450Nm (332 lb ft) of torque, which is around 28% higher than the last model.
Mated to a new 8-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox and Mini’s All4 system, the Clubman JCW hits 62mph in 4.9 seconds – 1.4 seconds faster than before – and for the first time, a Mini has been limited to 155mph. For those of you concerned about economy, this engine offers 33.6mpg on a combined run, and it emits 169g/km of CO2.
Sounds good, how does it drive?
Cover a few yards in the Clubman JCW and it won’t take you long to get a feel for the car’s brawny nature. The exhausts provide and satisfyingly fruity tone upon start, and the engine feels ready to flex its muscles. There are three different driving modes on offer; Normal, Sport and Green, to suit whichever mood you may be in. Speaking of mood, each driving mode has its own ambient lighting for the touchscreen surround, which I found to be a pleasing feature.
As you can imagine, I spent the majority of my short drive with the drive mode firmly locked in to Sport, even though the conditions were better suited for a Dinghy, than they were for a Mini. At least the Clubman JCW has the All4 system to give that extra bit of grip in conditions such as this.
Sport makes the car feel tauter, more responsive, and in the case of the exhaust, louder as well. The steering weights up as well, making this sensible family car feel more like a sports car. The engine performs well, with very little in the way of turbo lag, and the 8-speed Steptronic transmissions works seamlessly and swiftly.
The Clubman JCW is pretty nifty in the corners as well; the brakes perform well, although they are not the meatiest I’ve ever come across, but even in wet conditions, the chassis was able to provide enough grip to inspire confidence. Steering feedback is OK, I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it gave me enough to let me know what the front end was doing. The body stayed more upright than I was expecting in the corners, which makes the firm ride feel worth it.
How practical is it?
One of the advantages of choosing the Clubman JCW as opposed to a hatch version is that get more space, thanks to the car’s bigger body shape. Open up the quirky double-door boot and you’ll find 360 litres to play with, which can be extended to 1,250 litres if you fold the rear seats down.
There’s a decent amount of cubbyholes to be found, and the rear space will be more than what a standard Mini can offer, which is a strong selling point for the Clubman if it’s to be bought a family.
Speaking of which, how much is it?
The Mini Clubman JCW starts from £35,360, offering standard features such as LED headlights, 18″ alloy wheels, MINI driving modes, 6.5″ touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth, Navigation and smartphone connectivity, suede and leather John Cooper Works sports seats, heated front seats, park assist, automatic air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.
It may have been a short drive, in wet conditions, but I certainly enjoyed my time with the Clubman JCW. It’s a premium family car that packs a punch, and despite its firm ride, I’d argue it’s a car that could be used daily with minimum fuss. The 8-speed auto and the All4 are big factors in this as it means it will be an easy car to drive, no matter the weather conditions.