Mini is pushing the boat out for its 60th birthday. The British brand adds a more powerful engine to two John Cooper Works cars and is preparing a new halo car—the Mini JCW GP—and the fully electric Mini Cooper SE. And that’s not all. Bringing more emotion to an already emotional brand is a good way to get the party started, and the 2020 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman encapsulates that idea with 301 hp and a fun driving experience.
We’re no strangers to the Clubman. A couple years ago, news editor Alex Nishimoto drove a 2017 Clubman for 14 months and really appreciated its design and overall charm. But he had trouble justifying the value behind it. That won’t change for the 2020 model year, as the starting price for the Clubman Cooper S is nearly $32,000. A few updates, though, make the Clubman feel a bit younger. The grille got a small redesign, the headlights, taillights and foglights received minor changes, and the wheels got a new design. The bigger changes, however, come to the JCW version, which is getting a 2.0-liter turbo-four that produces 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque—increases of 73 hp and 73 lb-ft over the 2019 model. That’s certainly good news for those who are looking for more punch, but unfortunately, the manual transmission is gone for this JCW; the only gearbox is an eight-speed automatic. Power is sent to the front and rear wheels thanks to Mini’s All4 all-wheel-drive system, which can split the torque delivery 50/50 (front and rear) depending on the road conditions.
German country roads outside of Frankfurt, with stunning rolling hills and abundant farms, served as the location for our drive before some high-speed autobahn fun. Turn on the engine, and you’ll hear a nice roar coming from the exhaust, amplified through the speakers inside the cabin. And once you get rolling, this JCW Clubman can be pretty fun to drive. Step on the throttle, and you’ll immediately feel the torque being delivered to the tires as you gain speed. Mini says the JCW Clubman can get from 0 to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds, which means it’s 1.4 seconds faster than the 2019 model. And it feels quick. Whether you’re driving it on the highway or on side roads, the JCW Clubman is energetic. It also doesn’t feel as big as it looks, as its chassis has been tuned for a sporty drive.
During our run on the autobahn, we saw speeds of more than 150 mph, and at those high speeds, the car felt stable. The steering provided a nice feel of the road, and the suspension did a good job maintaining the body control. Even at higher speeds, the punchy engine reacts well to throttle inputs.
The transmission is quick and the shifts are smooth, but Sport mode, our preferred setting for country roads, offers a different experience. The throttle mapping, transmission behavior, steering feel, and suspension settings change dramatically. With the shifter in manual mode, you’ll have fun getting to the redline with the paddle shifters, as the car leans into corners with energy. As with most Minis, this JCW Clubman provides a firmer ride; our model was equipped with the 18-inch wheels, but the two-tone 19-inch JCW wheels are optional and look way better than the 18s.
Things change yet again when Green mode is engaged. The exhaust is silent, and all the energy you feel in Sport mode is gone. But this is a good mode if you want to save fuel or cruise quietly through town. We only had Green mode on while cruising through some villages—we prefer the more fun Normal or Sport modes.
The more powerful engine also comes with more powerful brakes. As part of JCW, this Clubman comes with bigger brakes than its predecessor and other non-performance siblings. We were satisfied with the way they worked and the firmness that the brake pedal provides, especially on twisty country roads.
For the 2020 Clubman, things didn’t change much inside. 2020 models still get the same switch-style buttons as before, an available wireless charger is located on the center armrest compartment, and the shifter has been redesigned. The 6.5-inch touchscreen was easy to use and has cool graphics that go with the rest of the interior appeal, but compared to the rest of the industry, the screen is starting to look a bit small. Apple CarPlay will be available in the U.S. under the touchscreen navigation package, which costs $1,700. Unlike the exterior, there isn’t much to differentiate a JCW version. Besides the additional bolstering on the seats and the Union Jack flag at the bottom of the steering wheel, we don’t get anything special inside compared to non-JCW models.
The 2020 Clubman is still a Mini, but there’s enough interior space for four adults. The second row has plenty of headroom, and legroom is enough for my 6-foot frame with the driver’s seat set to my position. The split rear doors—a classic Clubman feature—can automatically open when you move your foot under rear fascia, and the rear cargo area has enough space for a couple of big bags and a carry-on. There’s also a hidden compartment under the cargo floor that can be used to put your dirty clothes or sneakers.
So how do we feel like after driving the 2020 Mini JCW Clubman? Similar to how Alex felt after saying goodbye to his long-term Clubman—it’s a fun car, but it’s hard to justify its value. The John Cooper Works Clubman will start at around $40,000 when it arrives to U.S. dealers in the next couple of months, and you can buy many other fun cars below that price tag. But if you really love the Mini brand and want to experience something more powerful, the JCW Clubman is a good option.
Source: Read Full Article