Mini has done a Clubman JCW before, but it hasn’t done one with 225kW and 450Nm. We drive it here in Australia and we’ve got the juicy details.
The Mini update that started 2018 is just about done, with the Clubman finally getting the mid-life tweak.
How much is the Mini Clubman and what do I get?
For 2020 the Clubman John Cooper Works comes in two specs – Pure for $57,900 and Exclusive for $62,900, both before on-roads.
2020 Mini Clubman JCW Pure
The Pure rolls on 18-inch alloys and has sat nav, auto LED headlights, keyless entry and start, active cruise, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, auto high beam, semi-automatic parking, electric folding and dipping mirrors, standard adaptive dampers and bits of cool lighting.
The 8.8-inch screen is still set in the giant LED-ringed ring in the centre of the dash and powers a 6-speaker stereo. You get two USB ports (one USB-A and one USB-C) and a 12-volt charge point as well.
You also get wireless Apple CarPlay, which is great. Less great is the wireless charging pad if you have a larger phone (iPhone XS Mac or 11 Pro Max, for instance). The Qi pad is in the armrest and like the X2’s, doesn’t fit a the bigger phones. At the time of writing Mini hadn’t changed its official policy on charging for CarPlay after the initial three years subscription runs out.
The only option available on the Pure is the Climate Package which adds heated seats darker tinted windows and massive sunroof for $2400.
Mini says the Pure is about making the purchase easy – limiting choice means it’s easier to keep in stock. I reckon this is the one most people will buy, partly because the seats but also the adaptive damoing.
2020 Mini Clubman JCW Exclusive
If you spend the extra $5000 to get to the Exclusive, you can add full leather seats with “cross-punch” patterning, 12-speaker Harmon Kardon set, electric and heated front seats and an electro-chromatic rear vision mirror to go with the folding and dipping external mirrors.
Because the Exclusive has 19-inch alloys, you lose the adaptive dampers. More on that later.
You can also get the $300 Media package which adds a head-up display with JCW additions. As with the Pure, you can specify the climate package which which is $2000 because you already have heated seats.
A third option pack, Convenience, adds through loading with 40:20:40 rear seat split, rear armrest, alarm system, tyre pressure monitoring and adaptive LED matrix headlights with LED driving lights. That’s a hefty $2900.
They should all really have a centre rear armrest and who uses an alarm anymore?
Warranty and servicing
The warranty is a three-year/unlimited kilometre offer, same as the parent company, as is the condition-based servicing where the car tells you when to take it in. You can also pre-pay up to five years of servicing with two levels of cover.
I say it all the time, but three years is looking thin in this day and age, but then again, neither Merc or Audi’s are any longer.
Like the Cooper S, the JCW comes with six airbags, forward AEB with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors.
The Clubman doesn’t have an ANCAP safety score because I don’t know why. EuroNCAP gave it four stars in 2015 and I suspect it had something to do with a couple of missing advanced safety features like lane keep assist and blind spot warning.
Look and Feel
As with the mild update to the Cooper S Clubman, the JCW scores a new grille but with a red strut bar. The new front bumper has extra ducting for the updated cooling package. The front and rear bumpers also make the car a little slipperier through the air.
The colour choice varies depending on whether you choose the Pure or the Exclusive.
The Clubman JCW Pure comes in four colours – red, white, blue and black and you can choose between one design of 18-inch wheels in silver or black.
You also get just one interior colour choice with the Recaro seats in a mix of leather and Dinamica, which is like Alcantara. It’s a bit dark in there but apart from that, perfectly fine.
Your choice of exterior colours in the Exclusive expands to British Racing Green (back after a short absence), Starlight Blue (first time on a Clubman), Midnight Black, Indian Summer (very pretty), Melting Silver, Thunder Grey, White Silver and Chili Red. They’re all $1000 extra.
Moonwalk Grey and Pepper White are the only freebies.
On top of that you can choose from three roof colours and matching stripes (although the silver strips won’t be here till later in 2020).
Inside you get a few new bits and pieces including the new optional Mini Yours Frozen Blue. About the biggest change is that in the leather lounge option, the Union Jack embossing is on the forward side of headrest. The list of interior options goes on forever.
It’s a pretty good interior that makes the most of its modest dimensions. Obviously, the Clubman is bigger and feels ligther and airier than the hatch, which is obvious with lots more glass. The optional sunroof (part of the $2400 Climate Package) has those annoying perforated blinds. It’s too sunny here for those.
What is the interior space like?
Rear seat passengers get the best deal of the Mini range, except maybe for the Countryman. Half-decent space, good headroom and you don’t feel like you’ll bounce your head on the rear glass.
Front seat dwellers score a pair of cupholders and a tiny storage space in the armrest (the Exclusive has wireless charging in there) and the front doors both have bottle holders and door pockets. In the back, the
The boot 360 litres is much bigger than the Hatch and when you put all the seats down, you fill it with 1250 litres of stuff. Front seat passengers get two cupholders and those in the rear not only get them too, but also get their own air-con vents. Fancy! Except in the Pure, where there’s no rear armrest, you just get the vents.
The big news for the 2020 Clubman JCW is the power jump – it’s up 55kW to 225kW and now has 450Nm. Kablamo. If that sounds familiar, it should – it’s the same engine as the X2 M35i.
Like its Beemer brother, you get a front TORSEN diff with 39% traction and 26% thrust settings. Mini says it means you get more power through the fronts more of the time. The All4 all-wheel drive system is onboard for when the front runs out of grip. Which it will if driven as intended.
An eight-speed Aisin automatic looks after getting the power and torque to the AWD system.
Hidden behind those big ducts either side of the radiators are two extra small radiators to help deal with the extra heat from the B48. It’s a lot of cooling for a lot of power.
For the most part, the cars are mechanically identical – huge 360mm front brakes and 330mm at the rear. They’re both 10mm lower and sport new steering knuckles on the front axle to help tame torque steer.
The Torsen LSD also means that the full whack of torque is available in first and second gear, meaning vivid launch control starts.
So here’s where it’s weird, but expected. As the Mini Clubman runs on the same UKL2 platform as the BMW X2 (and X2 etc. etc.), adaptive damping is only available in cars with 18-inch wheels. So the Pure gets it, the Exclusive with its 19s does not.
Driving the Clubman JCW Exclusive
Unfortunately, I only got to drive the Exclusive, so the Pure review will be along soon.
I’ve driven a few quick Minis in my time. I’ve also driven the X3 M35i. They’re all hilarious, but for different reasons. This new Clubman JCW is way more powerful than the pre-update machine and it’s absolutely worth every single extra cent over the older car.
Basically, it’s mental. The All4 set up is nice and progressive and gets the Clubman off the line super-fast, cracking the ton in 4.9 seconds. That’s only part of the story, though.
As with most Minis, it has fantastic steering and here in the JCW, it’s almost completely unflappable and perfectly weighted when in it sportiest setting. It pounds into corners really hard, the huge brakes pulling it up nicely as you turn-in. And the turn-in is fantastic as is the ability to stamp on the throttle pretty much whenever you like (okay, within reason).
What’s also quite heartening is the fact that the ride has survived the loss of the adaptive damping.
The engine’s power delivery is for the most part very smooth, once you’re over the initial lag. That lag is fairly small given the twin-scroll turbo but once it’s gone, you’ve got a bit of a weapon on your hands. In -gear acceleration is absolutely scorching for this kind of car, zapping from 100 to *inaudible* in no time at all. Overtaking is easy and licence-shredding if you’re not careful. The eight-speed automatic is excellent and seems to know which gear it needs to be in without drama.
Four point nine seconds is quick. Yes, you can do that an in AMG A45 (okay, quicker) but it’s a lot more expensive and doesn’t drive like a Mini, or look like one. The JCW Exclusive is great to drive and a Mini you can live with. Is it worth over $62,000? I don’t know yet – I need to drive the Pure and see if the $5000 saving, different seats and adaptive damping is worth foregoing the the extra bits and bobs.
But setting aside value-for-money, the Mini is an awesome cousin for the X2 M35i or the new M135i – completely different looks, similar price and a practical form factor.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.