The Clubman’s small wagon form gives some versatility, however it’s nonetheless on the compact aspect.
It’s a surprise what 73 horsepower will do. As a part of a complete replace for the 2020 mannequin 12 months, the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman picked up a complete bunch of energy, giving the small wagon a much-needed dose of character. Character does not imply it is good — as a result of it certain is not — however it does imply that this newest go-fast Mini has a novel feeling that extra sporty-leaning drivers will admire, even when it means making a couple of sacrifices alongside the best way.
LikeA blast to driveWagon rear finish provides versatilityFun inside appointments
Don’t LikeExpensive as heckSmall automotive, small cargo capacityNot the smoothest transmission
Go, go, goThe most essential replace to the JCW Clubman lives underneath its clamshell hood. The automotive’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 used to place out simply 228 horsepower, however now there’s an additional 73 horses within the combine for a complete of 301. Torque is up the identical quantity, to 332 pound-feet of torque.The new powertrain is addictive, barking to life from a chilly begin with extra aggression than I count on. It does not take lengthy on the road to note the mega energy improve; the torque comes on good and low within the rev band, offering a shocking quantity of shove at low speeds, but the horsepower is there to zip the Clubman effectively previous the velocity restrict if want be. The exhaust be aware is bassy and loud when actually leaning into the throttle, however it does a superb job hiding within the background on the freeway, with surprisingly little drone.
Power makes its solution to all 4 wheels by a critical eight-speed computerized transmission — sorry, stick-shift followers, the JCW Clubman is AT-only from right here on out. I name it “serious” as a result of when it comes time to drop a couple of gears and take off, a pointy stab of the throttle will trigger the transmission to kick like a mule because it instantly finds the best cog. Upshfits are agency at velocity, however the entire thing settles into a pleasant, leisurely smoothness when the tempo drops. The all-wheel-drive system does a commendable job pushing the automotive by corners of various tightness, ensuring the entire thing goes the place I need it to.Combined with the powertrain, the JCW Clubman’s extra-sprightly chassis makes for a relatively intriguing experience. Despite packing adaptive dampers (non-obligatory on decrease trims, commonplace on my range-topping tester), the experience is, um, sporty (learn: tough) at nearly all occasions, transferring a good quantity of movement from street to occupant. It’s advantageous while you’re out carving up corners, however it may be irritating when there’s two miles of mediocre pavement between me and the grocery retailer.
The Clubman’s pocket-sized dimensions imply its physique is completely satisfied to vary path at a second’s discover, one thing that is made apparent once I first give the decently weighted steering a pleasant tug. In truth, it could be a bit of too excitable, resulting in some lane adjustments that look extra like Fast & Furious outtakes than meant. It’ll cease practically as shortly because it’ll change path, too, because of upgraded JCW-specific brakes and a pedal that is mighty simple to modulate.
If you do not like the best way the Clubman handles in its default Mid setting, there’s some adjustability accessible through the mode change. Flip it to Sport, and the throttle picks up some sensitivity whereas the steering provides weight and the exhaust snags up a couple of additional decibels. This is my most well-liked solution to drive, however it could be a bit a lot for most people’ on a regular basis use. There’s additionally a Green mode that quiets, lightens and softens as a lot as it could actually, but when that is the one you wish to use, why not decide a extra environment friendly variant to start with?Speaking of thrift, there is a shocking quantity of it within the JCW Clubman. The EPA charges the wagon at 23 miles per gallon metropolis and 31 mpg freeway. While I did not get significantly better than the estimate in city driving, I discover it a lot simple to fulfill and exceed the freeway score, pushing nearer to 33-34 mpg.Compact kind issueIf you did not know the Mini Clubman was up to date for 2020, it actually would not give it away. Visual adjustments are on the sunshine aspect, with some tweaks to the grille and each the entrance and rear fasciae. The commonplace LED headlights supply up the identical funky round running-light sample as different Minis, and out again, the Clubman’s taillights now carry a Union Jack design (extra enjoyable than the German flag, I suppose, as it is a BMW product) for additional character.My favourite a part of the entire Clubman is the break up tailgate, which pops midway open with a single press of the important thing fob (two presses of the trunk button will open each halves). While it appears to be like neat, there’s not way more house behind the second row than you would possibly discover in a five-door VW Golf, however a correct station wagon. Thankfully, the 60/40 second row can fold down in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, stopping me from schlepping my new snowblower residence on the roof.That tailgate can be annoying as a result of it places a thick pillar smack dab in the course of the rearview mirror. Visibility is respectable in each different path, although, with flat glass making it simple to maintain up with my environment.The Clubman’s inside is sweet, however it positively reminds you that you just’re not fairly spending BMW cash.
The Clubman’s smaller kind issue would possibly eat into cargo capability, however there’s nonetheless a superb quantity of usable house inside. The second row will accommodate two six-foot-tall passengers behind drivers of equal top, leaving simply sufficient head- and legroom to not really feel cramped. In-car storage can be at a premium; the door playing cards have sufficient house to cram most of your junk, which is sweet, as a result of the glove compartment and heart console cubby are each on the small aspect, as is the little tray simply forward of the cupholders.Mini and BMW could be kissin’ cousins, however the two share very totally different inside designs. The conventional round protuberance on the dashboard homes the infotainment system, along with a cute ring of LED lights that may operate as parking sensors or a tachometer. There are further LED components within the door panels that ramp up the discotheque feeling, whereas the purple stitching on the steering wheel and supportive seats remind you that it is a sporty wagon, child.It’s all fairly good, however my tester is pushing north of $48,000 from its start line slightly below $40,000, and I do not know if it is fifty-grand good.Decent tech, nothing crazyModern BMWs pack a complete lot of tech underneath their skins, however regardless of the shut connection, Minis typically make do with rather less. Take the infotainment display screen, for instance: There are not any huge dashboard-spanning surfboards right here, only a 6.5-inch touchscreen that additionally works with a small dial on the middle console.BMW’s reskinned iDrive system is ok within the Clubman, however it’s not my favourite. There’s no adjustable residence display screen, so I’m caught particular person screens (whether or not it is what’s at present enjoying on the radio, or a navigation map), with a small chunk to the best devoted to a visit meter or a smattering of different tidbits. It’s a advantageous system, and it contains Apple CarPlay, however at this value level it feels a bit of feature-flat. The small onscreen icons are powerful to hit at any velocity above zero, as effectively.The additional info to the best of the principle show is not very useful.
The gauge cluster does not supply a lot in the best way of tech, both. There are a couple of small screens to maneuver by beneath the speedometer, providing up easy data associated to gas financial system and journey distances, however that is it.Standard security methods embody computerized emergency braking, rear parking sensors, computerized headlights and the federally mandated backup digital camera. If you are searching for adaptive cruise management and entrance parking sensors, they’re locked behind a sensibly priced ($850) Drive Assistance Package. If you need something past that — blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping help, stuff of that ilk — you will must discover a totally different automotive.How I’d spec itThe 2020 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman All4 begins at $39,400 for the bottom Classic trim, and my tester is all however absolutely optioned out at $48,100 together with vacation spot.My private alternative of JCW Clubman can be fairly just like my tester. I’d like to stay with the $46,400 Iconic trim, which provides must-haves for me like Apple CarPlay, auto-dimming mirrors, the break up rear seat and satellite tv for pc radio. The solely query is whether or not I need the Driver Assistance Package or not, which I do not, bringing the value right down to a nonetheless lofty $47,250 together with vacation spot.Down to brass tacksIf you are within the hot-hatch market, there are a good few choices accessible. If you wish to preserve the value down however the energy excessive, rivals just like the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N are each glorious selections. Reach a bit of larger on the value chart and you’ll scoop up a Volkswagen Golf R for about the identical dough because the Mini, too. I believe the Civic and Veloster have the Mini beat when it comes to each value and driving dynamics, however they’re solely front-wheel drive. The Golf R is a little more conservative and grown up, and I’d say it is about on par with the Mini’s expertise, although I like VW’s in-car tech a bit of higher. If you need one thing a bit of SUV-ier, there’s the BMW X2 M35i, which is mainly the identical powertrain wrapped in a taller-sided shell.The 2020 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman actually stepped up its sport. It now has sufficient energy to remain persistently fascinating, and its sharp on-road demeanor means each drive can flip right into a enjoyable one, even when that is not essentially what you are within the temper for. It could be small, however the JCW Clubman packs a large punch.