First Drive Review: MINI Clubman John Cooper Works

Independent review by Mike Torpey

5-minute read

MINI Clubman JCW

First Drive: MINI Clubman John Cooper Works

Explore the key features of the MINI Clubman John Cooper Works in our expert first drive review

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Oozing character and style, the MINI Clubman John Cooper Works packs a serious punch out on the road.


  • Powerful engine
  • Great to drive
  • Sporty styling
  • Well-equipped
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Back in the 1960s, motorsport maestro John Cooper spotted a golden opportunity.

The former Grand Prix driver realised that it was not just film stars, models, and royalty who had been turned on to Britain's 'people's car', the MINI, but also sportsmen of his own kind - racers like Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren, and Graham Hill.

So he approached the MINI's maker BMC, suggested a performance version of the little car with more punch, better handling, and stronger brakes - and the MINI Cooper was born.

That original model came with a 0.9-litre engine, a top speed of 88mph and 'lightning' acceleration of 0 to 62mph in 18 seconds - at that time the standard MINI actually took around 30 seconds.

Fast-forward to 2019 and the MINI, spelled with capital letters and owned by German giant BMW, bears little resemblance to its distant relative.

And now, still carrying Cooper's name, the fastest MINIs ever produced and approved for use on public roads are continuing the legacy, including the iconic Clubman.


Featuring a 306bhp 4-cylinder petrol engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo technology, the John Cooper Works Clubman boasts thunderous power allied to race-grade tuning.

We are talking the sort of figures you would normally associate with a supercar. In fact, the JCW Clubman can blast from 0 to 62mph in 4.9 seconds, and that is quicker than a Porsche Cayman.

For the first time in any MINI, the maximum speed of this top performer has been electronically capped at 155mph.

Also included with this latest engine, which offers more pulling power plus an extra 75bhp at peak output, is a new 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission with paddle shifters.


We took the Clubman, complete with the company's ALL4 all-wheel drive system, on a challenging test drive in what can only be described as monsoon conditions.

So extreme was the rain that for a period of the morning the A1 was closed in the interests of safety - if the MINI was ever going to succumb to weakness, this would be the day.

But from the moment the snarl of the JCW's newly developed sport exhaust system pierced the heavy early morning air, the car performed with outstanding precision.

It was solid on the road, well-balanced, sensationally quick, and at no point felt like it was carrying too much power.
Mike Torpey

The wretched weather conditions also benefited from the connection between the MINI's mechanical differential lock with its Dynamic Stability Control, which also aids the car's driving dynamics through bends.

Design and Equipment

As for styling, the central air inlet of both the JCW Clubman has a honeycomb pattern, and a striking contrast paintwork is available in red for the roof and mirror caps as an extra.

Customers also get John Cooper Works sports seats, a JCW sports steering wheel and anthracite headliner along with the likes of LED headlights, MINI Driving Modes and a Navigation Pack offering a 6.5-inch display with touch-screen plus Real Time Traffic Information.

There is also a Comfort Plus pack provided as standard including front and rear Park Distance Control with Park Assist, a rearview camera, seat heating, and folding mirrors.


The MINI Clubman John Cooper Works model is a joy to drive, thanks to its powerful engines, efficient all-wheel drive system, and an abundance of equipment and driving aids on offer. Not to mention the sporty JCW styling that will have you turning heads on the road.