MINI Clubman John Cooper Works ALL4
What is it?
The next, final and probably most predictable development of the Clubman – the high-performance range-topping MINI Clubman John Cooper Works ALL4 version, which after making its debut at the Paris Motor Show back in September last year, is finally on sale.
Does adding a 228bhp punch, with the security of ALL4 all-wheel drive make the practical Clubman in range-topping John Cooper Works form the ultimate usable fast MINI? We hit the road to find out.
- The charismatic 228bhp, 2.0-litre Twinpower petrol engine, that’s previously been fitted into Convertible and hatchback JCW models. On top of the performance, this MINI justifies its JCW badges by the 350Nm of torque, 0-62mph acceleration from the eight-speed Steptronic automatic model in just 6.3 seconds, a top speed of 148mph, emissions of 154g/km and a 27% charge.
- A six-speed manual version of the Clubman JCW is also available, it’s cheaper than the Steptronic version, although the fuel consumption and emissions ratings are worse at 38.2mpg and 168g/km respectively.
- Eco, Mid and Sport modes are available. Mid is best for everyday driving, although perhaps is a bit too normal considering the JCW-badging; Eco seems a bit at odds with the sporting nature of this MINI – although oddly a sound symposer fitted made it sound like this MINI was hiding a V8!In our opinion, Sport mode makes the biggest difference to how the new Clubman JCW drives. The throttle response sharpens, more steering weight is added and I dare anyone to not raise a smile when the JCW exhaust pops and crackles.
- The steering is sharp and involving, the handling safe, secure and fun, plus the ride is well-judged and not uncomfortable.
- If you hadn’t noticed the JCW ovals or more subtle ‘All4’ badging, you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a regular Clubman, as it has the same grown up, high-quality feel as the standard car. Although our car’s interior certainly benefited from the optional (£1,200) MINI Yours pack. This includes a hand-stitched Walk Napa leather steering wheel, matching Walk Nappa leather trim with braided piping and our favourite feature – the Union Jack, which is embroidered into the rear of the headrest.
- The JCW shares the same ALL4 all-wheel drive system that debuted on Cooper S and Cooper SD models (link). To keep the efficiency up that MINI are known for, this on-demand all-wheel drive system means that the Clubman All4 is a two-wheel drive car most of the time. However, the All4 system which works via the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), monitors road conditions and via the Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) can distribute the drive torque between the front and rear wheels instantly and precisely considering the road situation at all times. So, should you be driving your Clubman JCW All4 on a wet or snowy road, or maybe attacking a corner in typical MINI-style, the DSC would identify this and activate the all-wheel drive system.
- Another positive of the JCW All4 version of this latest Clubman, is that despite all the new kit underneath, the big MINI estate remains as practical as before. Those neat twin rear doors open up to reveal the same 360-litre boot and that can be extended to 1,250 litres with the split rear seats folded down.
- This Clubman’s ALL4, all-wheel drive system also proved its worth on the snowy, icy test route, giving noticeable welcome extra rear grip. In fact, the harder I attacked the hairpin bends, the more the ALL4 system seemed to tighten the cornering line with more traction.
- No MINI is a cheap option anymore, but in the Clubman’s defence, it is reasonably well-equipped with air conditioning, Bluetooth, Park Distance Control with sensors at the rear, cruise control with brake function, Comfort Access – with touchless opening of the split doors by waggling your foot under the rear apron, MINIVisual Boost stereo including USB socket and operation via the MINI Controller in the centre console, plus the 6.5-inch colour screen fitted with a MINI Navigation system.
- Refinement is a key characteristic of the Clubman range and despite the JCW badging, the fastest big MINI estate feels that it has sacrificed some speed in the pursuit of comfort. It definitely doesn’t feel as quick and alert as the JCW-badged hatch. This is probably because of its extra length and width, plus the 1,550kg weight with the ALL4 all-wheel drive system.
- The Steptronic eight-speed automatic box, although smooth, doesn’t feel as keen to accelerate. Perhaps if you were making the changes yourself with the six-speed manual box I’m sure it would be more satisfying.
- The steering is sharp and involving, although I reckon it could be sharper – but I think some of that feel had been lost on the cars we drove, because of the fitment of softer compound winter tyres.
- Our mountain test route showed up some feel issues with the standard Brembo brake set up. Fine on flatter sections, with plenty of bite, I found they lacked feel on sharper inclines.
- MINIs sell on the fact you can make them unique, because of the large choice of options and the Clubman JCW is no different. A £40,000 Clubman sounds entirely possible – ouch!
Verdict on MINI Clubman John Cooper Works ALL4
So is this Clubman worthy of the JCW badge?
I think it’s difficult one to tell, as whilst I appreciate the character, handling and practicality of this MINI, I’’m not sure it represents good value when compared to the Clubman Cooper S. However, normal tyres and a manual gearbox could make that difference.
The lowdown on: MINI Clubman John Cooper Works ALL4
|Doors and body style||Six-door estate|
|Engine/gearbox:||2.0-litre 4cyl petrol/8-speed automatic transmission|
What it costs:
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT):||£n/a|
|Road Tax (VED):||£500|
|Company Car Tax Band 2016/17 to 2018/19:||27%/29%/31%|
|Benefit in Kind 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19:||£8,290, £8,904, £9,519|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%):||£1,199/£100|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%):||£2,398/£200|
|Annual/Monthly Company Car Tax (20%):||£1,658/£138|
|Annual/Monthly Company Car Tax (40%):||£3,316/£276|