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MINI John Cooper Works Clubman Review Singapore 2022 - 2.0 (A)

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

The MINI Clubman has long been one of the more interesting MINI models, with its unique body style, union jack rear headlamps, round digital instrument cluster, and one of a kind barn door boot opening. Through the many generation of MINIs the latest MINI John Cooper Works Clubman is now one of the most powerful MINIs ever, producing 302 bhp and 450 nm of torque with its 2.0 turbocharged engine. Unlike the Cooper S Clubman, which was front wheel drive, the John Cooper Works upgrade also comes with all wheel drive through MINI's ALL4 system, giving this not so pocket rocket an astronomical amount of grip to cope with its 4.9 second 0-100km/h time.

There is always a sense of occasion when you get into a MINI - its signature design features such as the round headlights, round centre display unit, and Union Jack rear headlamp design proving to be as quirky as they are enduring. The brand appeal behind a MINI is so strong that at some point in our youth, it is likely that we have all dreamed of owning one.

While some end up pursuing this dream, others end up with perhaps more practical, albeit more boring options as they progress through life - myself included. You can imagine my excitement then, when I was told that I would get the chance to review not just a MINI, but the latest John Cooper Works Clubman. Not only was I going to check this of my list, I was about to drive one of the most powerful MINIs ever built - perhaps not very exciting for the layman, but very exciting for someone who loves cars.

Walking up to the test unit which is clad in a beautiful silver-white paint job with the signature JCW red livery, the car looks super premium. Considering this isn’t a big car with an imposing footprint, this is even more impressive. The car is beautiful and despite being a performance vehicle, does not look intimidating or ostentatious - which is great for those who are purchasing the JCW Clubman as a premium lifestyle tool instead of an outright performance tool. As a MINI, front end styling is familiar, with its signature round headlights. However, MINI has done well to spruce up the key visuals of the car, employing a good and tasteful mix of blacked out emblems, body kit styling, and chrome bits. For sure, this is a car that will turn heads and look as good in the office carpark as it will be cruising down the ECP.

The lifestyle element of owning a MINI has always been a key selling point of owning a MINI, and still is today, and buyers will be pleased to know that much of the interior styling that is iconic to MINI is still retained in the car today. The airplane style switchgear is not only beautiful, but also adds an alternative style of luxury to the vehicle - one that is akin to modern industrial interior design in homes today. In the JCW Clubman, because of its performance orientated underpinnings, comes with less creature comforts than its Cooper S stablemate. For example, the JCW does not come with electric seats, a weight saving feature that is not uncommon among performance makes and models across the industry. That said, I do wonder if MINI could have afforded to fit the car with electric seats anyway - it is after all quite a posh little car.

On the road, the JCW Clubman is a spirited thing, taking the driver from 0-100km/h in 4.9s, backed by 302 bhp and 450 Nm of torque. However, it is not these figures that are impressive - but rather, it is the user experience of the JCW Clubman that really shines through. Although small in footprint, the JCW Clubman bellows like a much bigger car when taking off, and the engine note is deep and reassuring. Under heavy acceleration, the engine feels tightly wound, and revs in a punchy, robust manner - giving the impression quite unlike the pocket rocket that it actually is. As is characteristic with all MINIs, handling is impeccable, and its extremely hard to unsettle the JCW Clubman, sitting flat through long fast corners, and darting into tighter ones with minimal lean.

The concept of owning a MINI like the JCW Clubman is categorically a lifestyle purchase, and one that will be best enjoyed by people who don’t live life according to a checklist. After all, the car isn’t the most practical car you can buy, and it isn’t cheap either. However, the JCW Clubman more than makes up for this by providing heaps of driving pleasure, supported by a clear elevation of lifestyle over other mainstream choices through its high build quality, beautiful looks, and an extremely “happy” feeling cabin. That said, if you’re after the lifestyle that a MINI provides, but wouldn’t mind exchanging some performance for a few more creature comforts and a friendlier price tag, then the Cooper S Clubman makes for a very capable alternative that will still present you with plenty of ownership joy.


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