What is it?
Given the axe that’s fallen on a number of Mini’s other oddball ideas (so long Paceman) it’s a wonder that the Clubman, the bread-van aping larger cousin of the hatchback, is still clinging on given that its shallow pool of buyers is presumably drawn from those dissatisfied with the regular five-door model’s boot – and simultaneously unmoved by the taller Countryman.
Yet here we are with another variant, and the costliest to boot. One suspects the constituents of the Clubman’s slender market share interested in a 228bhp, all-wheel-drive version would fail to see over a burly amoeba if Mini stacked them one on top of each other, but the John Cooper Works model launches in the UK regardless, starting at £29,345 for the six-speed manual.
As with the hatchback and Convertible versions of the JCW, the higher output comes courtesy of the reworked 2.0-litre four-pot, which features an uprated turbocharger and intercooler over the Cooper S unit. The Clubman’s quirk is to twin the petrol motor with Mini’s All4 set-up, which due to a bevel gear on the front differential and an electro-hydraulic clutch at the rear, lets the back axle share the torque distribution when the DSC system thinks it appropriate.
Naturally, the beefed-up powertrain comes with similar attention paid to the Clubman’s chassis, where the car’s already firm suspension settings have been made firmer still on standard 18in wheels (19in alloys are optional), while the brakes get four-piston calipers. Variable dampers are also on the tick list, as is the eight-speed Steptronic automatic our test car came fitted with – nudging its starting price up to £30,945.