Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: August 16, 2017
The title on this one is a doozy - the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4. Yikes! It’s quite the mouthful but it’s also quite the car. Unlike the smaller Cooper 5-Door, the Clubman joins the family with technically six doors à la the two barn doors in the rear. Like a hearse for clowns, the JCW finishing kit takes the regular Clubman three steps forward with a host of aesthetic and performance changes.
Cosmetically, the JCW Clubman differentiates itself from the S with a more aggressive body kit. The front bumper features more vents, presumably to cool all those extra horses jam packed under the hood, and slight side-skirt extensions add to the sportier stance befitting of a JCW. The addition of badging peppered around the exterior satiates the curiosity of strangers ogling at the mean green little machine parked before them. Tying all of this together is a set of black painted 18-inch wheels, and just barely squeezing underneath the front axle, a saucy red pair of four-piston Brembo brakes. The entire package stimulates the senses, rightly so, with colour names like Volcanic Orange, the car guarantees a fun experience before you even start the motor.
Under the hood is really where the John Cooper Works team have flexed their engineering wizardry. Taking the BMW-sourced B48 motor, the JCW kit ekes out an additional 39-hp and 22 lb-ft of torque from the four-cylinder. Mini has outfitted the Clubman with an additional radiator to help keep things in check when motoring hard. A total of 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque doesn’t quite push the bar with mind numbing numbers like what the Golf R or Focus RS offer, but try as you might, there’s something about this Mini that brings the boy racer out of everyone - perhaps it’s the racing stripes and vibrant colours. Or, more likely, it’s addicting sport exhaust.
Put the car in Sport, tip in on the throttle, and the four cylinder races towards the redline all the while producing a sporty tone that keeps asking for more. Let off on the throttle before the ZF-8 speed equipped transmission switches to the next cog, and the exhaust lets out a string of audible snap, crackles, and pops that might rival your nearest Cineplex on a busy Tuesday night. It’s behaviour is instantly addictive and leaves you itching to do it whenever traffic allows. It may not bolt off the line with quite the same rabid bat out of hell verve that the Focus RS or Golf R share, but the 258 lb-ft of torque doesn’t disappoint in giving you a small rush as the Clubman surges ahead. But it’s not all torque at play here. Mini’s ALL4 AWD system makes a showing here in the Clubman for the first time ever.
It’s a clever system and maintains the FWD Mini-tude found in the rest of the model lineup. That is, the system is a front wheel drive biased one, sending power to the rear only when required. It’s a smart move that doesn’t make the Mini feel too much like the BMWs that so much of its chassis and driveline is shared with.
Tap the left most paddle and the revs shoot up the tach as the ZF 8-speed effortlessly slips into a lower gear. Mash the throttle and the car responds equally with a shove that presses you against the back of your seat. The sensation dies off quickly though as you wring out the engine, a trade off for the quick to spool, but smaller twin-scroll turbo bolted to the exhaust manifold.
Nevertheless, that brief moment between gears gives you time to appreciate the well weighted (though clearly electronically boosted) steering on the Clubman. It doesn’t provide much road feedback. Though it makes up for the lack of feedback with its on centre feel. It’s very sensitive, requiring very minute driver inputs for big direction changes. The result is a very nimble vehicle. I wish there were more feedback in the wheel when in Sport, and a smidge more weight when loaded up in a corner.
The JCW takes the already good S model and enhances it further with a firmer sports suspension. Controlling the complacency is an optional Dynamic Damper Control system allowing the driver to modulate firmness depending on the use. In full Sport, the firmest setting, it’s a palpable difference in ride quality around the city - jostling occupants when traversing the downtown concrete jungle. Leave it in Normal and the ride is remarkably compliant, leading you to almost doubt the Clubman’s sporting pedigree. Nevertheless, Mini’s ALL4 system helps the Mini tremendously around the twisties. Come in too hot on a corner, and the traditional FWD Mini wants to push out, but just as you begin to push the boundaries of the Mini’s forward grip, the car tucks in and continues to carve.
Inside, the Mini exudes a level of cool and quirkiness that, in my mind, bests the competition. While other German entrants may be polished and clinical, the English Mini throws in a number of opportunities to personalize - including a dial to change the colour of the LED interior lights. Switches are styled like an airplane cockpit, a sleek mix of retro and contemporary design that makes the Mini standout above the competition.
All of this comes at a price, the Clubman starts at a base MSRP of $36,900. Adding a couple of options quickly ramps it up to newfound territories of “Holy What!”. For example, the $1,300 Loaded package (which does anything but make the car “loaded”) adds an auto dimming mirror, auto climate control and the Harman Kardon sound system. Combine that with the Essentials Package ($1,050) which adds a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, and rear fogs and you’re already looking at a price tag near a fully loaded vehicle from its competitors.
The Wired Navigation Package ($1,000) includes a 8.8’ Touchscreen with a touch controller and on-board navigation. But that’s not all, this Mini comes equipped with a $800 Visibility Package that finally allows for a rear view camera, rear park distance control, and a heads-up display rivalling something from a $30,000 Mazda3. The Cargo package adds a through loading system, and storage compartment package (a divider underneath the trunk floor) for a staggering $500.
As tested, this JCW Clubman hits the wallet for $44,990 before taxes, freight and PDI. Landing smack dab in the middle of its two closest competitors, the Mini offers a package more oriented towards the family centric individual, emphasizing more so on practicality and unique personalization options while putting driving dynamics at a close secondary.
型号 Model: 2017 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4
顏色 Paint Type: Midnight Black Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $36,900
試車售價 Price as Tested: $44,990
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,670
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,275 / 1,800 / 1,441
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,581
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 228 hp @ 5,000 - 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,450 - 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 225/40R18