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Paris show: Mini JCW Clubman ups torque, gears

In the Club: The JCW version of Mini’s quirky Clubman has more torque than other go-fast Minis at 350Nm.

Extra engineering enhancements give JCW Clubman a Mini boost

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Mini logo21 Sep 2016

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

MINI has pulled the covers off a John Cooper Works (JCW) version of its latest Clubman that has more torque than other JCW variants, gains extra transmission ratios and becomes the first new-generation sports flagship bodystyle with all-wheel drive as standard.

The JCW Clubman introduces Mini’s All4 drive system that is predominantly front-driven but according to Mini can send power to the rear wheels in a “fraction of a second”, even proactively when Sport mode is selected.

Given the Clubman’s wheelbase stretches 175mm longer than the Cooper at 2670mm, and overall length of the seven-door bodystyle moves up 379mm to 4253mm like for like, this newest JCW becomes the roomiest model in the range and uniquely offers five seats to the others’ four.

However, that exterior extension along with the all-wheel-drive system pushes kerb weight from 1220kg to a far fuller 1475kg.

To combat the JCW Clubman’s heft, torque from the BMW-derived 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine has lifted to 350Nm between 1450rpm and 4500rpm, up from 320Nm from 1250rpm to 4800rpm in the JCW Hatch and Convertible.

Power is unchanged at 170kW – and still falls well short of the 185kW this engine is capable of in models such as the BMW 330i – but it now feeds in 200rpm earlier from 5000rpm to 6000rpm.

A claimed 6.3-second 0-100km/h for both transmissions leaves the Clubman JCW two-tenths slower than the Hatch JCW in six-speed manual guise, however its new and exclusive eight-speed automatic matches the six-speed auto-equipped three-door front-driver.

Once up and running, however, a 6.9s 80-120km/h rolling response time in the manual’s fifth gear falls significantly short of the lighter model’s 5.6s claim.

This sports flagship follows both its Clubman stablemates inside – with greater room, five seats and between 360 litres and 1250L of luggage volume – and fellow JCW compatriots with external body styling kit including aerodynamic front and rear bumpers and choice of 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels.

However, inside for the first time, the optional 8.8-inch colour screen acquires touchscreen functionality that complements the rotary dial and shortcut switches for the BMW-derived iDrive controller on the centre console.

Although the JCW Clubman has just made its online debut a week prior to its public unveiling at the Paris motor show, it is already confirmed for an Australian debut in the first half of 2017.

“There’s been such a great response to both the new John Cooper Works and the new Clubman (so) we’re pleased to confirm that we will be getting this car in Australia most likely in the first half of next year,” Mini Australia product planning manager Daniel Silverwood announced at the national media launch of the Mini Convertible JCW in north Queensland this week.

Mr Silverwood said he expected the JCW to further increase the popularity of the Clubman bodystyle in Australia, which to August 2016 has notched up a record 361 sales for the nameplate year-to-date.

That figure was 15 units ahead of the ageing Countryman that sits within a 2509-unit total Mini haul (up 13.2 per cent year-to-date) and still heavily biased towards the 3- and 5-door Hatch (1640 sales).

With regard to an indicative pricetag, Mr Silverwood said it was “too early to tell”.

As a guide, however, the outgoing Mini Countryman JCW All4 cost $56,900 plus on-road costs – $9500 more than the new Cooper JCW – and the BMW Australia sub-brand has been determined to offer increased equipment and lower pricing across its range in recent times.

Features optional overseas but standard on current Australia-bound JCW models includes a head-up display, Harman Kardon audio system, adaptive suspension and the larger centre screen with digital radio and satellite navigation.

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