MINI Clubman JCW review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

MINI JCW Clubman is a unique hot estate that offers space and pace

For: 
Unique shape, roomy cabin, handling, performance
Against: 
Single rear side door, opinion-dividing looks

The gentle pace of the Clubman’s sixties inspiration - the Traveller - hasn’t stopped MINI from giving its quirky estate the full John Cooper Works treatment. Perfect for buyers looking for a more practical hot hatch, the MINI JCW Clubman is certainly different as it matches MINI’s most focused chassis set-up and biggest power output with the quirky and roomier estate body. The single rear suicide door and side-hinged double doors to access the boot are unique to the Clubman but the 208bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is shared with the JCW hatch, Convertible and Coupe.

Our choice: MINI JCW Clubman 1.6T

Styling

3.5

Mixing the unique Clubman shape with racy JCW styling cues has created a car that looks quite unlike any other hot hatch. At the rear twin exhausts sit below the barn style doors, while in profile the bodykit and 17-inch alloys look slightly at odds with the boxy shape. Still, a plentiful spread of JCW badges remind you that this is the fastest MINI estate money can buy. As with all MINI’s the retro looks, massive scope for personalisation and smart detailing are a big part of the visual appeal.

Driving

4.1

Opting for the Clubman over the hatch doesn’t mean compromising on driving thrills. In common with other JCW models the Clubman has taut body control, lots of grip and impressive high-speed stability. The steering is super sharp and the turn-in positive, while all the controls stream with feedback. Over uneven surfaces the wheel wriggles a little as the front tyres fight for traction and the ride is firm. Still, the flexible 1.6-litre turbo engine is punchy and well matched to the snappy six-speed gearbox, so performance doesn’t disappoint.

Reliability

4.2

The MINI JCW Clubman gets a full compliment of airbags and Isofix as standard. The stability control is very effective and the DTC Dynamic Traction Control gives you a medium setting that allows enough slip to prevent the power being cut too aggressively, yet retains the stability control element for safety. With well-proven components the JCW Clubman uses performance parts developed for the hatch.

Practicality

3.9

As with the rest of the Clubman range, the wheelbase is 80mm longer and this means better rear legroom than the hatch. The twin opening rear doors reveal a 260-litre boot and the split/fold seat backs fold to increase luggage space to 930 litres. Although, the single suicide rear passenger door means the Clubman lacks the functionality of conventional five-door hot hatch rivals like the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Running Costs

3.9

The Clubman commands a premium of around £1,000 compared to the equivalent MINI hatch, but that's justified by the extra boot space and improved rear legroom. Strong residuals and fixed price servicing are big plus points when it comes to running costs. But like all MINIs getting carried away with the options list adds to the already hefty list price. And doing without stop/start, the JCW is the least efficient MINI in the line-up - still, economy and CO2 isn’t that high given the performance.

Last updated: 5 May, 2012

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