Join the Club : MINI Clubman John Cooper Works Drive [review]

By topgearsingapore, 06 September 2019

Frankfurt to Bristol – With over a thousand kilometres to cover between Frankfurt and Bristol, there currently are several travel options available.

The fast way by air, the scenic route by rail or if you’re game for it, a mix of both, with a transcontinental drive through Germany towards the Netherlands where an overnight ferry will bring you into the United Kingdom for the tail end of the journey.

No prizes for guessing which travel option was our preferred choice.

With the 2019 edition of the International Mini Meet set as our final destination, it was time to get out and drive.

Our mode of transport for the weekend? MINI’s latest John Cooper Works fettled Clubman.

Together with the Countryman JCW, the Clubman JCW is currently the most powerful MINI in production with an extra dose of 75 horses and 100Nm over their predecessors.

These new JCW MINIs now pack 306hp and 450Nm of torque under their curvy bonnets, courtesy of an all-new twin power turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre; channelling all that firepower is an 8spd auto with drive going to all four wheels.

We could go into more geeky detail about reinforced engine crankshafts, bigger main bearings, unique pistons, rods, vibration-dampers, lowered compression ratios for a bigger turbo, fancy direct ‘multi-hole injectors’, a new sports exhaust and the upgraded cooling system. But best not to bore you readers.

What we can tell you is that all those fancy mechanical bits contribute to the Clubman JCW hitting 100km/h in a respectable 4.9secs as it continues charging up to a 250km/h limited top speed. In short, we were able to blitz through parts of the autobahn without breaking a sweat.

For petrolheads who have yet to experience Germany’s Wonder of the World, which is a relatively empty and derestricted stretch of the autobahn, take it from us when we say it is one of the most liberating experiences one can enjoy on a public road. Not all great driving roads are up in the mountains, some are just meant for experiencing maximum velocity and few are greater than the Autobahn when it comes to fulfilling one’s need for speed.

While the power and speed of the Clubman JCW are impressive, it is the overall ride quality and nature of the car that sets it apart from the three-door hatchback and cabriolet. Gone is the love-it-or-hate-it eagerness and buzz that eggs you to go faster, as are the crackles and pops each time you ease off the throttle.

Getting a little roughed-up after a spirited drive is what a JCW model is all about…

For better or worse, the Clubman JCW is a more grown-up animal; it is still capable of bombing through curves and getting vocal, but for the full JCW experience, you have to coax the hooligan out from under the cute veneer. Unlike its smaller and rowdier siblings, the Clubman JCW has a slightly more refined character, which to be honest, suits the Clubman’s character to a T. 

The Clubman’s lines can mislead viewers into thinking it is a much larger car than it is. Truth is, it is actually slightly smaller than a VW Golf. However, the Clubman easily accommodated two full-sized suitcases through its funky barn doors with space to spare. For our long-distance road trip, we certainly weren’t complaining.

Our Clubman JCW came equipped with adaptive dampers, but on less than perfect roads, it’s best to leave them in the standard-setting.

Switching to Sport gives a more exciting drive, but with a passenger in tow, it’s not the best idea, because you can get a little roughed up after a spirited session.

But to me, this is what a JCW is all about. When I was alone, having the settings bumped up brought back some of that lost edge, along with the exhaust crackles and pops.

MINI Clubman JCW 
Engine 2.0-litre, inline4, turbo
Power/Torque 306hp/450Nm
Transmission 8spd auto
0-100km/h 4.9secs
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel Consumption 7.4l/100km
CO2 169g/km

STORY Louis Soon

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