The 2011 Mini Cooper Clubman John Cooper Works earns a mid-pack Total Car Score. But for those wanting a roomier version of the Mini Cooper JCW or a faster, sportier version of the Clubman, this is the one to get.
Named after the British engineer who created racing versions of the old Mini, the JCW brings a turbocharged 208 horsepower engine to the party, while a decidedly stiff suspension is more than capable of containing such output. Reviewers frequently bring out words like "peppy" and "spry" when describing almost anything from the Mini stable, along with "retro" for the exterior and interior designs.
So the Clubman JCW has that driver's edge to go with an extra couple of inches in the rear legroom department and a 50-percent improvement in cargo space over the "normal" Mini. That extra practicality is accessed either by a rear-hinged side door (just one, on the passenger side), or the twin back doors.
Some reviews note that cabin materials are occasionally cheap-feeling, especially since this is considered a premium machine -- one whose price can rise quickly once a few options have been added.
The 2011 model year sees more sound insulation (about time), simplified radio controls (ditto) for the now-standard satellite/HD radio features, a few subtle tweaks in appearance, and a revised electric steering system to combat torque steer (something that plagues front-drive cars with a decent helping of power, as one wheel grips more than the other and influences direction).
The four-seat 2011 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works is a five-door wagon, with a small, rear-hinged door behind the front passenger's and double doors at the back. This is the most powerful version of the wider Clubman range and may be personalized with a host of options, just like the others.
A turbocharged, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine develops 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission sends that power to the front wheels. The JCW may be ordered with a limited-slip differential, for those who love to power out of tight turns.
There's a comprehensive inventory of standard safety features, including ABS (these brakes are an upgrade over non-JCW Clubmans), traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags.
Option packages are bundled under self-explantory titles like Premium, Cold Weather and Technology, offering better audio systems, heated front seats, etc. A new feature for 2011 is Mini Connected. Based on the Apple iPhone (although other smartphones will soon be compatible), it brings Google Search and Pandora internet radio into the cabin.
There's also an array of other, dealer-installed personalization options, such as a contrasting roof, various wheel designs, interior trim colors and materials, and a panoramic sunroof -- to name just a few.
The 2011 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works is rated by the EPA at 25 mpg city/33 mph highway and 28 mpg combined, using Premium gasoline.
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