2017 Mini JCW Clubman… A very quick spin
Last week, Mini sneakily snuck a Mini JCW Clubman Down Under and added it to the range… I got just 15 minutes behind the wheel.
FIFTEEN MINUTES. It’s not a hell of a lot of time to get to grips with a car, but there you go. I’ve already written today about the recent BMW/Mini Range Day where beyond some news bombs, the German car maker offered a car park full of its latest and greatest machinery.
There were X5s and X3s to choose from, i3 and i8, assorted Minis, M cars and regular BMW models. There were also static displays of the new 5 Series and new Mini Countryman. Also hiding in the car park was the Mini JCW Clubman and I was the first one into it… drive time was limited to just 15 minutes on a loop that, fortunately, was tight and twisting.
The Mini JCW Clubman ALL4 lists from $53,900+ORC and sits right at the very top of the Clubman tree. At the Range Day, Mini boss Tony Sesto said: “Since its 2015 introduction, the latest-generation MINI Clubman has been very well received in Australia.
“Now with the John Cooper Works variant, we offer a high-specification, high-performance flagship for the Clubman range. The latest ‘All4’ all-wheel drive system offers incredible traction over a wide range of surfaces, and of course there’s an impressive level of personalisation options available. It’s an incredibly versatile package.”
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 170kW and 350Nm of torque (30Nm more than the hatch and convertible variants). A six-speed manual is available as no-cost option (this was fitted to the test car) but an eight-speed automatic is fitted as standard. The JCW Clubman is all-wheel drive (ALL4 in Mini-speak) and rides on 19-inch alloys and runflat tyres with JCW suspension, although you can cost-option 18-inch alloys with non-runflat tyres and a fixed sports suspension system which drops the ride height by 10mm. This set-up can be mated, at no cost, with ‘dynamic damper control’ which offers either a comfort or sports-oriented damper tune at the flick of a toggle switch.
Mini JCW Clubman key features:
- Active Cruise Control, functional from 0-140km/h with Stop and Go Function;
- City Crash Mitigation with Pedestrian detection;
- Front and rear Park Distance Control with Parking Assistant;
- Speed Limit Info;
- Airbags to front and side for driver and front passenger, plus front and rear curtains;
- Comfort Access with contactless opening of the split rear doors;
- 12—speaker harman/kardon audio;
- DAB tuner;
- 8.8-inch touchscreen with Navigation System Professional;
- Extended Head-Up Display with JCW-specific functions;
- Leather cross punch upholstery in Carbon Black;
- LED Headlights with High Beam Assist;
- Specific JCW finishes to exterior and interior;
- LED interior ambient lighting with changeable colour palette; and
- MINI logo projection from driver’s mirror.
The JCW Clubman will sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds and drinks down a combined 7.2L/100km of petrol. So, how does it feel on the road?
In a word, okay. Normally, you can climb into anything with John Cooper Works badge and it will feel both scalpel sharp and go-kart fun, but that’s not the case with the JCW Clubman. At least, that’s not how it felt after my 15min spin.
The engine feels energetic enough but it lacks the usual character of a JCW tune, meaning the pop and crackle on overrun is so muted as to be barely audible from inside the cabin. That aside, there was good pick-up from the get-go and it had no problem accelerating out of tight corners, even if left in too high a gear.
The steering is, like the exhaust note, a little lacklustre and the usual accurate and responsive steering you expect from a JCW is missing, instead it feels springy and a little over-assisted. Luckily the brakes feel nice and strong with good progression in the pedal, although the clutch pedal is incredibly light and lacking in feel. The six-speed manual fitted to the test car shifted well but lacked the snickety feel of other JCW variants.
The ride was excellent, with the JCW Clubman smothering the lumpier sections of road we drove across with a well-controlled and compliant ride that was neither to firm nor too soft. Yeah, okay, for this size of vehicle, it was just right… There was good body control into corners with minimal roll and it felt like there was plenty of grip to exploit thanks to the all-wheel drive system but, again, I’d need longer with the car.
In all, the JCW Clubman felt competent, if not particularly exciting. It’s also, when you see it parked next to the new Countryman, beginning to look a little dated. At least it does to my eyes. So, sadly, while my quick spin in the JCW Clubman was fun, I think there are possibly better ways to drop more than $50k on a sporting extended hatch/small wagon. Indeed, I’d be pointing potential buyers at the Skoda Octavia RS wagon… sure, it lacks the Mini look and personalisation options, but it’s bigger and feels more aggressive.
In typical Mini style, there are a range of cost-options for the JCW Clubman:
Convenience Package – $2,200
- Electric front seats with memory function and electronically-adjustable lumbar
- Through-loading with 40:20:40 rear seat split and rear armrest
- Park Assist with front and rear Park Distance Control
- Alarm with illuminated aerial fin
- Interior and exterior mirror package. Anti-dazzle function for interior and driver’s side exterior mirror
Climate Package – $2400
- Panoramic glass sunroof
- Sun protection glazing
- Heated seats for driver and front passenger
Control Package – $650
- Adaptive LED Headlights
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring