The John Cooper Works version of the Mini Clubman demonstrates the potential of the JCW brand to give one of the more practical Minis a dynamic overhaul and some extra power. The four door Clubman is primarily an estate car that delivers excellent mileage and reliable handling – with the JCW upgrade, it has a longer wheelbase, and more of an emphasis on pushing its engine towards higher speed targets, while still keeping the model on an economic footing when it comes to fuel.
The Clubman has developed a reputation as one of the more quirky examples of the contemporary Cooper Mini brand; the car comes with an extra side door, as well as a rear hanged back, or ‘barn’ door; handling and performance for the Clubman’s 1.6 litre petrol, and various diesel engines, is defined by a robust drive, and by excellent mileage and space for families to fill out the rear of the car.
With the JCW upgrade, drivers get twin scrolling for the 1.6 litre engine, which pushes the Clubman up to 208 bhp, and 191 lb ft of torque, as well as a not inconsiderable top speed of 148 mph, and a 0-62mph rate of 6.8 seconds. An automatic gearbox, an optional extra for other versions of the Clubman, comes as standard with the JCW model. The chassis for the JCW Clubman is also tougher, and more focused on anti rolling for corners. In terms of economy, the JCW Clubman delivers a respectable 39.2 mpg, and also comes with eight years of coverage.
What you get, then, is an unusual estate car that’s pushed up to sports capabilities through its longer wheelbase and turbocharging; the final result for the JCW Clubman is closer to a Mini hatch than a traditional estate, with the JCW tuning for the Clubman similar in terms of adding power and extra handling to the brand to the JCW Mini Hatch and Convertible brands. You also get a lot more extras with the JCW kit, which include wide set exhausts and 17 inch alloy wheels.
In terms of performance, the JCW Clubman has more stability, better torque, and the option to floor the engine using the car’s Sport button; dynamic traction control keeps the Clubman grounded, while you get an excellent level of support for tracking out of corners. The trade off for drivers is a smaller boot, and approximately an extra £4,000 extra in price from the nearest SD Cooper model, and a considerable leap up in price from the most inexpensive Mini One and Mini One D models.
Whether or not you go for the JCW consequently depends on how much value you place on the engineering boost of the kit, which is significant; on its own, the Mini Clubman is still powerful enough to be a notable hatch and estate car in its own right – with the John Cooper Works treatment, however, you get to enjoy some of the best features of the racing specialists’s twin scroll engines and handling boosts.