We’ve already tried the diesel abroad, but here we’ve got the petrol Cooper S on UK roads. Under the bonnet is the same 189bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre motor that you get in the regular Cooper S. Thanks to the four-wheel drive, it’s quicker from 0-62mph by 0.2sec.
Typically, it remained largely dry during our time with the car, so we can’t comment on how it deals with particularly slippery roads. What we can say is that pulling out of damp junctions can be done confidently and without drama.
In this situation, you can certainly feel the back axle getting stuck in to keep the Clubman feeling neutral. It’s the same story when accelerating out of slower corners, the car resisting power understeer better than an equivalent front-driver.
Does this make it more involving or exciting? No. Even with all of the electronics off, a neutral cornering attitude is the best you can hope for under power. For the most part, though, it feels much the same as a normal Clubman, with quick – if largely numb - steering with decent weighting and a ride that copes with B-roads well.
Although big bumps can sometimes catch it out, the Clubman exhibits good body control with an ability to smooth out the majority of scarred surfaces. You’ll still feel the topography of the road, but it’s rarely uncomfortable.
The engine gets the Clubman up to speed effectively, delivering a pleasant rasp in the process. It isn’t the kind of unit that you’ll savour every last rev with, however, and we’d argue that a little bit more power wouldn’t hurt, either.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and, while not intrusive, is a little rubbery when compared to the best stick shifts out there. If you don't want to change gears yourself, there’s an optional eight-speed automatic that improves performance, emissions and fuel economy.
Ah yes, emissions and economy. The additional weight and resistance of the prop, rear diff and other assorted oily bits adds 15g/km of CO2 and worsens fuel economy by nearly 5mpg. At least boot capacity doesn’t take a hit.
The interior feels of high quality and is certainly funkier than the equivalent Audi or BMW. It’s comfy, too, although there is a lot of road noise and a fair bit of wind noise around the windscreen and A-pillars.