The Mini John Cooper Works Clubman has a long name to go along with its long body. Compared to normal wagons like the Volvo V60, it's actually small, as you'd expect from a Mini, but fairly large if you compare it to the regular Cooper Hardtop. Not that this matters too much in the JCW, as those three letters indicate that this is the hottest available version. Thanks to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder shared with the top-spec BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, it's a pretty spritely machine, generating 301 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. To prevent the front wheels from shredding their tires unnecessarily, the eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels. It's an unusual car, being a performance-enhanced family car that is too small to be truly practical and too big to be ideal on the track, so is it worth considering at all?
Last year saw the introduction of the abovementioned new engine with more power, so the updates for the new John Cooper Works Clubman in the US are kept to a minimum, although they are made nonetheless. Navigation with real-time traffic updates now features on the mid-level Signature trim, as does Apple CarPlay and a digital driver display.
See trim levels and configurations:
|John Cooper Works ALL4||
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The Mini John Cooper Works Clubman may be made by Germans, but its British heritage shines through in its styling. Those classic round LED headlights are unmistakable, while a vent in the hood and a plethora of gloss black accents help highlight this model's sporting intentions. The bumpers, rockers, and wheel arches all feature black plastic moldings while the fenders feature JCW badging. At the rear, Union Jack LED taillights and a dual-exit exhaust with false vents and a fake diffuser indicate that this model is meant to be fast. The most important features, though, are the split rear doors and the suicide rear door arrangement that make this a Clubman. A panoramic sunroof is also available, while 18-inch wheels are standard.
As you can imagine for a Mini, dimensions are kept as compact as possible. The entire car has a length of just 168.3 inches, while height is pegged at 56.7 inches. The wheelbase has a rating of 105.1 inches and width is calculated at 70.9 inches with the mirrors folded and 79.4 inches with them extended. Curb weight is fairly low, despite the added mass of an all-wheel-drive system, with the measurement starting at just 3,609 pounds.
Your color options depend on which sub-trim you opt for, with the base Classic variant offering four colors, the mid-level Signature giving access to four more on top of that, and the top Iconic adding one more. On the base model, you get only Moonwalk Grey at no cost, with Pepper White, Midnight Black, and Chili Red each commanding a $500 premium. This trim only allows for the mirror caps and roof to be painted in the same color as the body, but if you choose the Signature trim, you can have contrasting mirror caps and a contrasting roof in shades like White, Black, or Chili Red here. All eight body colors are offered at no cost, with the Signature sub-trim's offerings expanded by the availability of JCW Rebel Green, White Silver, Starlight Blue, and Thunder Grey. On the top trim, you also get access to Mini Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic.
The BMW-shared power plant in the Mini JCW Clubman is a respectable piece of engineering, generating 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot has plenty of grunt, allowing the wagon to do the 0-60 mph sprint in just 4.6 seconds. That's quicker than a Ferrari Testarossa could do in its day, and the engine doesn't run out of puff when you get into triple figures either, accelerating strongly all the way to its limited top speed of 155 mph. For a Mini to be any good though, it needs to be a strong performer in the bends too. With an eight-speed automatic transmission providing shift paddles behind the steering wheel, you can keep your hands on the wheel at all times, and thanks to sharp steering, a nimble chassis, and all-wheel-drive grip, that classic Mini DNA shines through. It's not as exciting as lesser-powered Minis that send their power exclusively to the front wheels, but at least launching yourself from one traffic light to the next requires minimal restraint or skill.
The Mini John Cooper Works Clubman is only available in a single configuration in terms of its powertrain, although multiple sub-trims with different convenience features are offered. That engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that develops an impressive 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. It's managed by an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. Mini says that this is done because the front wheels can't handle that much power, but the Mini Cooper JCW GP gets the same output on just the front axle thanks to a locking differential. Nevertheless, wherever the power is sent, the engine performs well, with a linear torque curve that makes accelerating from a standstill easy. It's not too bad once you're on the move either, with the engine offering enough mid-range torque to make accelerating past slower traffic relatively easy. The automatic transmission fills any gaps by clicking down a gear or three when you need it, but as smooth and smart as it is in its default setting, switching to Sport mode and changing up or down yourself is certainly more entertaining. Fortunately, the experience is not dulled by slushy shifts, and the paddles respond to your commands instantly.
The steering in the JCW Clubman may be electrically assisted but it's nicely weighted, with progressive resistance that makes it easy to accurately judge. It's also sharp and direct as you'd expect in a Mini, but it lacks feel. Determining what's going on with the front wheels is a guessing game, and with no more than half of the power ever going to the rear wheels, you can't coax a slide out of this car - at least not unless you're willing to risk a costly entanglement with some Armco. Fortunately, the grippy tires (that could be a touch stickier), taut suspension, and clever gearbox combine to make this station wagon one of the most enjoyable to drive in any case. Yes, there is some understeer apparent at the limit, but it's still a lot of fun to fling this car around. This is one of those cars that shows that you don't need to produce supercar levels of power to have a good time on the track or on the road.
However, these benefits on a twisty road do create a negative review of the car's long-distance drivability, since the stiff suspension is slightly jarring and will be noticeable over corrugated or pockmarked pavement. It's not so bad that you can't do a long drive without cursing the engineer who set up the suspension, but it's nowhere near as comfortable as your average family car either.
Since this high-performance wagon is only powered by a small-capacity engine, gas mileage figures are pretty good. According to the EPA's review, the USA version of the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4 will achieve 23/31/26 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 13.2-gallon gas tank, you should see an average of around 343 miles of range with mixed driving. Interestingly, these figures are identical to those of the JCW Clubman before its power boost, when it was only developing 228 horses with 258 lb-ft of torque.
Just as with the exterior, the cabin of the JCW Clubman is classic Mini. A big round cutout at the center of the dash dominates the interior, even if it only houses a 6.5-inch display as standard. Fortunately, there is an 8.8-inch screen available that fills it out better, while toggle switches, a pair of round cluster gauges, and a chunky steering wheel are all pure British class. Standard amenities include automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a six-speaker sound system. Available features include a head-up display and wireless charging, unfortunately, Apple CarPlay is still included here instead of on the list of standard equipment.
The Mini JCW Clubman claims to be a five-seater, but try telling that to your friends squeezed into the second row. There's an adequate amount of headroom, but legroom is rather tight for those in the back. Those up front are treated to six-way adjustable seats that are heated as standard, and these seats offer loads of support thanks to large bolsters. These bolsters do make ingress and egress a little tricky if you don't like scraping the upholstery with your butt, but other than that, the front is a great place to be with lots of visibility in every direction and a good layout for the driver who can easily reach most switches and touchpoints without stretching.
In the base model, you get Carbon Black upholstery in your choice of leatherette or Dinamica (faux suede)/cloth. A leather steering wheel is standard too, with Piano Black interior trims. Step up to the Signature variant and you get leatherette upholstery in Carbon Black or a leatherette/cloth combo in Black Pearl. Mini Yours Lounge leather is available too, also in Carbon Black, for 500 bucks, but you have to spend $1,000 on the Signature Upholstery package. This also lets you choose from Cross Punch leather in Carbon Black or Chesterfield leather in Indigo Blue, Malt Brown, or Satellite Grey. This package also allows access to Mini Yours Illuminated Piano Black or Fiber Alloy trim elements. In the top Iconic trim, the Signature Upholstery package is included, so you get most of these options at no charge, with just Carbon Black Lounge leather adding 500 bucks to the price..
One of the biggest Mini options out there (besides the Countryman), the JCW Clubman is relatively practical. The cargo area behind the rear seats offers a reasonable 17.5 cubic feet of volume, enough for a medium-sized suitcase and some change. If you need more cargo space, you can drop the rear seats in a 40/20/40 split for a total of 47.9 cubes.
In the cabin, you get a quartet of cupholders, large door pockets with drinks bottle recesses, and a glovebox of a reasonable size, as well as a center armrest bin and a spot for your phone ahead of the center console.
As a premium vehicle, you may expect a wealth of the best standard equipment, but sadly, the Mini JCW Clubman isn't exactly a standout performer in this regard. Nevertheless, you do get heated power front seats, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, LED headlights with cornering, dynamic cruise control, power-folding wing mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers. Other features are added when you upgrade to the Signature sub-trim, like dynamic damper control and a panoramic moonroof, but even on that model, you have to spend extra to get front parking sensors, illuminated interior trim accents, park assist, a head-up display, and adaptive cruise control.
Since it is based on BMW's brilliant iDrive system, the infotainment setup in the Mini JCW Clubman is pretty good. It's easy to find what you're looking for and the 6.5-inch display is responsive, if a little too small to make changing settings easy when on the move. As standard, it is connected to a six-speaker sound system and provides the usual USB and Bluetooth inputs, but you have to spend extra for SiriusXM satellite radio. On the mid-level Signature variant, you get Apple CarPlay, navigation, voice control, and wireless charging thrown in, but satellite radio is still an option, as is a better sound system. On the top Iconic variant, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is standard along with satellite radio and Mini Connected Services. This model also gets a more comfortable 8.8-inch touch display.
Thus far, the 2021 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman has been free of recalls. However, you may be interested to know that the less powerful 2020 Cooper S Clubman suffered a single recall in May of 2020 for airbags that may not deploy in a rollover.
In terms of warranty coverage, the Clubman comes with a limited and powertrain warranty for the first four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Complimentary scheduled maintenance is also included for the first three years or 36,000 miles.
Thus far, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has yet provided a review of the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman's crashworthiness. However, with a long list of safety features offered, we suspect that it would perform well.
As standard, buyers get the obligatory rearview camera and frontal, side-impact, and curtain rollover airbags. You also get the usual traction and stability management programs, along with LED headlights with a cornering function, rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers. Available equipment includes front parking sensors, park assist, a head-up display, and adaptive cruise control. Those looking for advanced driver aids like forward collision assist or adaptive headlights should search elsewhere.
As with pretty much all of Mini's product offerings, the John Cooper Works Clubman is expensive, fun, and a little bit niche. It's a car that you would never buy rationally, because on paper, it falls behind many competitors in terms of standard equipment, cargo volume, and asking price. But where some rivals can be a little tepid, the JCW Clubman is a properly fun family car that handles brilliantly. Furthermore, the badge just carries a weight of premium style, and you never assume poverty of the owner of any Mini. For these reasons, many people will overlook its flaws and still find it attractive. Sure, you have to pay more than its already lofty asking price to have a car that is reasonably equipped, but once you do, you will have an unrivaled driving experience in a uniquely retro package. It doesn't make any sense, but we can't bring ourselves to convince you not to buy this car.
No Mini is ever cheap, and when you're talking about the second-largest offering in the range, you can expect a correspondingly high price. The base Classic sub-trim carries a base cost of $39,500 - $100 more than the 2020 version - before an $850 destination charge. The mid-level Signature is on sale for $42,900, while the top Iconic variant will set you back at least $46,500. Fully loaded, you'll pay a little over $51,000 for this model.
The 2021 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman is a standalone model, but it is offered in three specs: Classic, Signature, and Iconic. All are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that generates 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four 18-inch wheels.
The Classic sub-trim has a fabric upholstery as standard and boasts heated power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, dynamic cruise control, cornering LED headlights, power-folding wing mirrors, a six-speaker sound system, and a 6.5-inch infotainment display.
Stepping up the Signature version adds dynamic damper control, navigation, Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, voice control, and access to both more options and more paint finishes.
The top Iconic variant is offered with faux suede and leather upholstery as standard but also boasts remote services, SiriusXM satellite radio, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen display. This model also gets a 12-speaker sound system from Harman Kardon as standard. However, you can still upgrade this model with options like a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and front parking sensors.
The base sub-trim has access to very few options, many of which add little value to the car. However, if you step up to the Signature variant, you can add the Signature Upholstery package to get access to leather in the cabin and illuminated interior trims. You can also spec an alarm system for 500 bucks or the Driver Assistance package for $1,250. The latter adds front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, a parking assistance system, and Mini's head-up display. The Premium package is also offered here, for $2,000. This adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, SiriusXM satellite radio (a $300 standalone option), and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
We feel that the base Classic variant is a little too poorly specced to be enjoyable as a daily driver, while the top Iconic sub-trim is too expensive to be worthwhile. Thus, we recommend opting for the Signature version. To this, we'd add the Driver Assistance package with its adaptive cruise control, head-up display, and parking aids. We'd also be inclined to add the Premium package with its upgraded sound system and satellite radio. This would give you a car that is cheaper than the top sub-trim but is well-equipped enough to be comfortable and convenient on a daily basis.
Although not exactly in the same category, one of the JCW Clubman's most similar rivals is the Volkswagen Golf R. Both come with AWD and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Unfortunately, we still have to wait a while before the 2022 Golf R arrives with its 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. We also don't yet know exactly what it'll cost, but we can tell you that it will have a bigger and better infotainment display, a more conventional design, and blistering acceleration. In addition, the Golf R will be offered with a drift mode and even a manual gearbox, attributes that should endear it to performance enthusiasts. And based on every Golf ever, it should be a great daily driver too. If you can wait, the Volkswagen's better performance and more impressive tech will be worth it.
If you don't need all-out performance from your Mini, the more affordable Cooper S Clubman is a highly attractive proposition. It is offered in both FWD and AWD configurations, but even the more expensive version that sends power to all four wheels is still almost seven grand cheaper than the cheapest JCW Clubman. The same sort of engine and gearbox propel this model from A to B, albeit with just 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Inside, the same sort of finishings and design elements are seen, so you don't feel like you've opted for a lesser model. However, you do lose out on some standard features. For a fun family car at a relatively affordable price, and with a more compliant suspension setup, we can't fault the Cooper S though, and considering how much fun it is for the price, it's definitely our pick.