The 2017 John Cooper Works MINI Clubman All4 — Whew! That's a lot of name! — landed in the snowbound driveway of our suburban New Jersey test center before spring sprung. Color: Rebel Green, chaps!
We wondered if the Clubman JCW would be a terrifying as the last JCW MINI we, um, enjoyed. That car scared the living bejeezus out of us. What a savage little thing!
The MINI Cooper S Convertible was rather more chill. Basically, the perfect MINI.
The Clubman ALL4 was out first MINI with four doors.
Not to mention that famous — or infamous, depending on your perspective — set of bi-swinging rear doors.
They're the Clubman's signature feature.
What lies within?
Well, a decent amount of cargo space. But nothing too impressive. The Clubman is just about adequate to carry a week's worth of groceries for a family of ... let's call it three. I have three kids, and for us the Clubman would demand extra weekly jaunts to the market. Unless you use the vehicle's extra seating space or drop the rear seats.
MINI badging is modest on the exterior.
A dash of JCW identity, plus a shout-out to the all-wheel-drive system, which turned out to be fairly capable in the snow.
The real deal with MINIs, of course, is the overall eye-catching design of the vehicles. Check out that hood scoop! JCW MINIs are the high-performance version of the cars.
Those adorable bug eyes!
Step inside, past a tad more JCW badging, spiced up with contrasting red and a checkered-flag motif.
The front seats are snug, well bolstered, and covered in "Carbon Black" leather.
The steering wheel is also leather-wrapped, topstitched in red, and purposeful. It feels good in the hands.
You have to accommodate yourself to all the offbeat MINI stuff, as far as the controls go. The push-to-start in many vehicle here becomes a red toggle switch. When fired up, the JCW Clubman's 228-horsepower turbo inline-four-cylinder motor emits a satisfying bark, followed by a pleasing, blatty growl.
No manual (there's a six-speed available), but the sport automatic allows for a manual mode, and there are paddle shifter behind the steering wheel. Overall, the transmission and engine combine nicely to deliver spirited power delivery in all driving modes, even the eco-friendly gas-saving selection.
The infotainment system is housed in this big round console. It's based on MINI-parent BMW's iDrive, and it gets the job done. Our tester had satellite radio, a decent quality six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, and AUX/USB ports.
The system is operated using this cluster of buttons and a knob. Once you sort of internalize the positions, you can navigate the infotainment interface without taking your eyes off the road.
A head-up display rises from the dashboard and projects speed and a tachometer.
Yep, the rear is snug. What we're dealing with essentially is a compact station wagon.
However, the dual sunroofs are a great touch. The rear of the Clubman is flooded with light.