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MINI Clubman John Cooper Works Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Arresting looks and hi-po engine
What's Not
It's not cheap...
X-Factor
You get what you pay for, and there is plenty to like in this package
Kez Casey | Mar, 02 2011 | 2 Comments

MINI CLUBMAN REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Small sports wagon
Price: $51,800 (plus on-road costs)

Engine: 1.6 litre petrol, turbocharged in-line four cylinder
Outputs: 155kW @ 6000rpm/280Nm @ 1850-5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Official fuel efficiency: 7.0l/100km
On test fuel efficiency: 8.2l/100km
CO2 emissions: 167g/km

 

OVERVIEW

The combination of MINI’s most potent engine and the Clubman’s quirky asymmetrical five-door bodywork ensures a truly unique vehicle that backs up its quirky looks with exhilarating performance.

 

INTERIOR

Quality: While retro styling is the interior’s first priority, there are lots of nice-to-touch surfaces and a solid feel to all touch-points and switches.

Comfort: Thanks to the Clubman’s longer wheelbase there’s surprisingly good rear seat space. A lack of width makes for cosy accommodation, but headroom is more than generous.

Equipment: Climate control air-con, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17” alloy wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlamps, sports suspension, dual-outlet stainless steel exhaust are just part of an extensive equipment list.

Storage: With rear seats up, the Clubman offers 260 litres of boot-space stretching to 930 litres with the 50:50 rear bench folded. There are also dual glove-boxes and small extra storage slots in the front doors and centre armrest.

 

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: With so much power in such a small package and maximum torque in tap from as low as 1850rpm, the Countryman John Cooper Works is a hoot to drive. Whether on suburban streets or rolling country roads, there’s plenty of punch available.

Refinement: While the cabin is well insulated, the upright windscreen can generate a bit of wind noise and the tyres get fairly raucous on less than perfect tarmac. The engine is a smooth unit though and the tuneful exhaust note is a welcome accompaniment with the taps open.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front suspension is fairly conventional, but a multi-link rear in a car of this size is a rarity. The ride is very firm and tuned for a kart-like feel, meaning comfort takes a back-seat to exceptional handling.

Braking: Disc brakes all-round with vented front and solid rear rotors. Braking is strong and a good match to the John Cooper Works’ performance.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: Not tested

Safety features: Six airbags, ESP, EBD, brake assist, stability control, corner braking control, load-limiting pretensioners on the front belts and adjustable head restrains for all seats.

 

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Two years, unlimited kilometre warranty for the entire vehicle with three years paintwork warranty and 12 years body corrosion warranty.

Service costs: Consult with dealer before purchasing.

 

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

Volkswagen Golf GTI 5dr ($40,490) – Well matched for performance, more interior space and a conventional five-door layout. Styling lacks individuality though and the GTI feels less raw. ??(see GTI reviews)

Peugeot RCZ ($54,990) – Every bit as eye-catching as the Clubman, but less practical with its low roof and tiny rear seat. Even with the same basic engine (different tune) as the MINI, the RCZ lacks fizz. ??(see RCZ reviews)

Subaru WRX ($39,990) – Not nearly as plush inside, but offering all the turbo rush, great handling plus additional space and the choice of hatch or sedan. (see WRX reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The MINI Clubman JCW is an odd little one-of-a-kind car with no direct competitor and some quirky design solutions.

We like the rear barn doors, but the driver’s side half-door (for increased access to the rear seats) unfortunately sees passengers unloading into the street, not the footpath.

For adults, the extra space of the wagon-style Clubman is a godsend.

For the driver, the rorty engine, race-car like ride and rich exhaust note combine to make the John Cooper Works a must-drive for the hot-hatch enthusiast.

 
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It will be similar to the sample below.