The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The styling may split opinion, but the Clubman packs the same punch and comes with a longer wheelbase, making it more comfortable than the hatch.
Reasons to buy:
- Poised handling
- Strong performance
- More practical
How good does it look?
It may be more striking than the hatch, but the quirky Clubman styling will not appeal to all. The full John Cooper Works makeover includes the aero body kit, twin rear exhausts, 17-inch Challenge alloy wheels and Brembo front brakes. MINI calls the Clubman an estate, but in reality the Renaultsport Clio 200 and Volkswagen Golf GTI are its closest rivals. It has more presence than the Clio, but the Golf is more interesting and has more hot hatch heritage. The twin rear doors look great, but in reality are no more practical than the hatch and the clubdoor is of little everyday use.
What's the interior like?
The John Cooper Works Clubman improves on the standard car’s interior with the addition of a tactile part-suede trimmed steering wheel and piano black interior trim. There’s a chic, over-styled feel to the MINI’s interior, neat design touches include the large speedo, plus the column-mounted rev-counter and the rocker switches below the air-conditioning controls. It’s a shame then, that some of the plastics aren’t up to the price tag. Also, it might look chic, but some of the dashboard switchgear is poorly placed.
How practical is it?
There’s no lack of headroom or legroom in the front, so even the tallest will get comfy in the Clubman’s sports seats. Sadly, despite the boxier shape, there’s precious little extra space in the back as rear legroom is tight when compared to rivals. Taller rear passengers will be uncomfortable on long trips. The John Cooper Works Clubman’s 260-litre boot is another disappointment, but at least the rear seatbacks split and fold to increase space further. The Clubman’s forward and side visibility is generally good, but rear visibility is poor because of the twin rear doors. Thankfully, rear parking sensors are standard.
What's it like to drive?
The Clubman’s longer wheelbase tames this MINI’s reputation for fun, if wayward handling. Even with the sport button turned on, there’s noticeably more traction and composure when accelerating. Another consequence of the long wheelbase is it rides better than the hatch. Some of the agility has been lost, but it’s still a fun and entertaining handler that can deliver more smiles per mile than many rivals. This MINI is fitted with two-stage traction control. Press the button once and the system is partially disabled allowing more slip, press it again and the system is fully off. Considering this Clubman’s tendency to torque steer, as the car struggles to channel the power to the road, pulling the tyres from side to side, we’d recommend leaving it fully on. This MINI is a pleasure to steer, it’s well-weighted and gives excellent feedback.
How powerful is it?
The Clubman John Cooper Works produces 208bhp and the top speed is 148mph. With its 1,280kg kerb weight, the MINI falls between the superlight Renault’s 1204kg and the heavyweight Volkswagen’s 1318kg. The MINI covers the 0-60mph sprint in 5.9 seconds, a second faster than the Renault and the Volkswagen. The John Cooper Works Clubman is powered by a modified version of the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine also fitted in the Cooper S. One of the modifications is a fruitier sounding exhaust that crackles between gears, adding to the cars’ character. It’s mated with a sweet-shifting and precise six-speed manual transmission.
How much will it cost me?
With a list price of over £20,000, the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman is not a cheap car to buy. However, with its 40mpg consumption and low 165g/km emissions, the Clubman should be cheap to run despite the performance. If you choose the TLC pack when you buy, all servicing costs, including some replacements, are included for five or eight years depending on the pack chosen.
How reliable is it?
There have been no major reliability problems with the second-generation MINI, so there’s no reason why the John Cooper Works MINI should give any issues.
How safe is it?
The standard MINI scored five stars for adult occupant protection in EuroNCAP crash tests, so the John Cooper Works is one of the safest cars on sale. Standard equipment includes electronic stability control and six airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, electronic stability programme, 17-inch wheels and run-flat tyres, along with front side and curtain airbags. One of the key MINI selling points is the ability to personalise your car and the John Cooper Works has an expansive range of expensive options including a chili pack, xenon headlamps and sports suspension.
The MINI John Cooper Works Clubman costs £1,000 more than the hatch, but this car offers a more polished driving experience and is the best fast MINI on sale today.