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Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman All4 review

2024 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman All4 right front
Mark Savage
/
Savage On Wheels
2024 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman All4 right front

For folks who enjoy thinking small, or who are smallish themselves, a BMW-made MINI seems just the ticket.

Yet, even those of us of diminutive stature sometimes haul stuff and friends and could use a skosh more space for said stuff and friends. Ah, but MINI is still a reasonable answer as it continues to make its Clubman, a sort of wagon with MINI flair.

I say continues because the 2024 Clubman is the last of its breed. MINI will stop making the wagon version, at least for now, after this model year. Too bad, and one can hope a new version is in the works, if down the road. One suspects electric power will be added if Clubman returns.

I’ve enjoyed every MINI I’ve tested through the years, but this Clubman may have been the best as it was the top-end John Cooper Works model with AWD, known as All4 here. Three of us packed in, including my now taller-than-me teenage grandson who fit in the rear seats just fine. We also had suitcases and backpacks as we were headed to Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

So, three adults and luggage, no problem for the Clubman, and it’s so easy to access that gear through the barn-door style doors in back in place of a hatch. Cool, too, that both doors include tiny wipers for the rear windows. Bonus!

But to be honest, while infinitely more practical than a 2-door or convertible MINI, it was the power and agility that made this Clubman such a treat. A MINI with sonorous exhaust notes? Oh yeah!

Even the digital-gaming enthralled grandson commented!

“That sounds awesome!”

Indeed, the JCW Clubman boasts a 301-horsepower twin-turbo I4 that burbles and growls like a muscle car and snapped the tested bright metallic blue MINI up to and well-beyond standard highway speeds. (MINI says 0-to-60 mph comes in 4.2 seconds) Truckers nodded as we ripped by, surprised that such a mighty mite was powering past instead of the usual maxi-sized pickup.

I mention the color because it was an eye-pleaser a bright metallic blue with a white roof that fades to black. Say what? Yes, MINI has mastered a two-tone roof for just $500. It’s white at the front and fades to gray about two-thirds of the way to the rear, then to black just before those rear panel doors. So clever, so MINI!

But the speed really made this MINI special along with its Go-Kart like handling. Toss the MINI into a turn and clip an apex, yet the AWD system helped the Clubman feel as if it would stick to the road even if there were glare ice. Well, probably shouldn’t test that, but man this thing was glued to the pavement.

Steering effort was mild and quick but could become quite heavy and stiff if you toggled the drive modes to Sport away from the standard mid-range setting. Efficient, or Green, eases up the power to save fuel (premium preferred) and minimized the MINI’s fun. Still, sometimes you need to stretch the range.

Watch our video review: INSERT LINK

Yet the JCW Clubman has a nearly 500-mile range as it’s rated 31 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg city by the EPA. I got 24.8 mpg in a good mix of city and highway and then a much better 28.8 mpg in nearly all highway driving, again with 3 adults and their luggage aboard.

The ride is firm, especially so in Sport mode. I thought it might prove annoying on a long highway drive, but instead felt comfy and well controlled. It helps that the Clubman has a longer wheelbase than other MINI models. The only ride disturbance was on very rough Indy streets (and we think Milwaukee’s are rough). However, road noise from the tires is pretty high on cement pavement.

Outside, this looks like a MINI, just longer, with big round headlights and roundish grille and black trim items, but white mirror caps. Inside those round or oval styling cues continue, everywhere, including door releases. But once one gets used to the giant round screen mid-dash and the smaller oval speedometer pod attached atop the steering column, things seem pretty manageable.

Oh, and don’t forget all the toggles, as in an old aircraft. Those above will control the sunroof up front and interior lights. There’s another sunroof in back that rear passengers can slide a screened cover back for more light.

There’s an issue with the front sunroof screen though as it tends to let in a bit too much sunlight, so when at a lower angle the sun can seep in and distract a driver. A more solid screen would be preferable.

The seats are powered sport models meaning they give excellent side and lower back support, plus one can pull the lower cushion forward to give more support to a long-legged driver. Front seats also are heated and because this model includes the Iconic trim package the seats feature leather trim.

That Iconic package also includes a fine Harman Kardon premium audio system, although the tire noise means you’ll need to crank it up when at highway speeds on cement roads. Iconic also adds piano black exterior trim bits, a 40/20/40 split rear seat, and smart cruise control, drive assistant, and parking sensors for safety. Oddl, it does not include blind-spot warning, which should be standard on all vehicles by now.

You also get a navigation system and wireless phone charger, both welcomed, but for $6,500 I’d rather have the blind-spot assist and Android Auto. There’s just Apple CarPlay here.

For any sporty car I also expect a flat-bottomed steering wheel. This one is fine, but knee room when exiting would be aided by a flat-bottomed wheel.

Finally, there’s pricing, always high on a MINI. This JCW All4 version starts at $43,395, including delivery. That’s pushed to $50,395 with the Iconic package. Ouch!

MINIs are treated as high-end specialty vehicles by BMW, which prices most of its sedans and crossover above $50 grand, especially once any equipment, including most paint colors, are added. So, no surprise, just disappointment that with pricing to match the MINI name, there’s be a whole lot more of these on the streets. MINIs ARE a blast to drive and Clubman offers more room for more fun.

FAST STATS: 2024 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman All4

Hits: Stellar looks, great power and handling, plus AWD. Dual sunroofs, supportive seats with bottom cushion extender, heated seats, panel door wipers, cool roof paint scheme. Good MPG considering power.

Misses: Firm ride, road noise, no blind-spot monitor or Android Auto, drinks premium fuel, pricing. Needs flat-bottomed steering wheel and sun screen nets let in too much sun.

Made in: Oxford, U.K.

Engine: 2.0-liter twin turbo I4, 301 hp/331 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 3,608 lbs.

Wheelbase: 105.1 in.

Length: 168.5 in.

Cargo: 17.5-47.9 cu.ft.

MPG: 23/31

MPG: 24.8.-28.8 (tested)

Base Price: $43,395 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $40,205

Options:

Iconic trim (piano black exterior trim, 40/20/40 split rear seat, MINI excitement package, active cruise control, active drive assistant, parking assistant, Harman/Kardon premium audio system, advanced RTTI, remote services, MINI connected & XL, MINI navigation, wireless charger), $6,500

Multi-tone roof (white to black), $500

Test vehicle: $50,395

Sources: BMW/MINI, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
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