The 2016 MINI Clubman packs a lot of car into a little shape. While completely redesigned for 2016, it still feels every bit a MINI. Two powertrains are available in two trims, a 1.5L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine in the base trim makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-feet of torque. The uplevel S trim gets a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder capable of 189 horses and 207 lb-feet of torque. Both engines can be had with either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic.
This Clubman is built on a platform similar to the MINIs 4-door Cooper. This means 4 "real" full-size doors. The Clubman also carries on the tradition of rear center-split "barn doors". These doors open to reveal 17.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the rear seats down, and it becomes 48 cubic feet.
The usual MINI look and feel carries through the interior. The large center pod doesn't have a speedometer anymore, but it does carry the vehicle's entertainment and navigation systems. Rounded corners, metal trim and toggle switches complete the MINI experience.
Standard equipment includes 16" alloy wheels with run-flat tires, heated mirrors and rain-sensing wipers. Inside the standard steering wheel is leather-wrapped, proximity key, a 6.5" screen as well as all the usual power accessories.
Standard safety equipment includes stability and traction control, tire pressure monitors, front and curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.
The S trim gets the more powerful engine and also 17" alloy wheels, a lip spoiler, fog lamps and carbon fiber interior trim.
Options allow a lot of customization in typical MINI fashion. No fewer than 5 alloy wheel choices are available, as are 3 different colored roof and mirror caps and both white and black bonnet stripes. A Premium package upgrades the audio system to a Harman/Kardon system, adds a panoramic moonroof and a proximity entry key system. A Technology package includes a rearview camera, a rear park distance control, integrated navigation with traffic information. Heated and power-adjustable seats are available, as are LED fog lamps and adaptive headlamps.
BMW's Dynamic Damper Control, which allows the driver to modify suspension settings on the fly, is available, and included in the Sport package.
What on earth is the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman? To some, it's an elongated Mini that offers more cargo space than the standard hatchback, while to others it's a small wagon that offers a refreshing break from the plethora of compact SUVs that litter our roads. The simplest way of describing it is to say it's a weird-shaped Mini, roughly the size of a Golf, that now packs a 306-horsepower engine.
Blink and you might miss the exterior tweaks present on this latest model. The front grille is now deeper than before, with the horizontal gloss black portion having been removed to create the impression of a more aggressive (if slightly more fish-like) front end. The headlights have also been tweaked, with daytime running lights that now travel the full circumference of the housings. The rear lights and rear apron also get some slight mild fiddling, too, but these changes are even harder to notice at first glance.
If there's one thing Mini does well, it's interior style. Slide into a JCW Clubman and it immediately becomes clear there isn't another car on the planet quite like it. The circular infotainment housing is an absolute joy to look at and simple to work with. The new graphics on this version are certainly very pleasant, with fun animations making light of a deep, feature-rich user interface. The LED ring around the circular display is a hoot, too, lighting up incrementally whenever the volume is adjusted or, in Sport mode, when engine revs increase.
The potent little hatchback is nevertheless a fun alternative to your traditional small hatchback.
While the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman isn't the last word in hot hatch thrills, it should appeal to those who want a fast alternative to the plethora of small crossovers on the market.
The project was first announced about two years ago.
It has between 146 and 168 miles of range by European estimates.
It'll go on sale in 2020, but supplies will be rather limited.
With only 3,000 units available, you'll need to be as quick as the car is if you want one.
We drove an early prototype and walked away quite impressed.
Don't try this at home, not that you have a 777 lying around.