MF Garage: 300 HP JCW GP Clubman vs the 2017 JCW Clubman

You might have read the recent rumors of a mythical 300 HP Clubman both this week and in our original reporting in 2014. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Coming from someone who uses a JCW Clubman as a daily I love the idea of more power. But for me it’s less about the power and more about the control an feel. I’d prefer a manual transmission (which I currently don’t have) than extra power (which I also don’t have).

In its current form our 2017 JCW Clubman feels quick but not fast in an era where SUVs are routinely in the 4s to 60 MPH. That’s what this new JCW GP Clubman (we’re going with that name until we hear differently) would solve. But do we need it? Do you need it? Clearly that comes down to personal preference but we believe there is a market. The Focus RS and Golf R prove that point well. Looking at previous GP pricing, the likely cost would be well over $40k and probably closer to $45k.

Does the extra performance justify that cost? From what we’re hearing there’s a chance it’ll be more than just the engine upgrade.

MINI will also offer a thoroughly retuned suspension and upgraded brakes. Then there’s the transmission. There’s something interesting in the video that was released last week. At one point the driver takes his foot off the brake and the Clubman doesn’t seemingly creep forward without throttle – something that a manual would typically do. But as he takes off it would appear that he snaps a shift off in milliseconds – something more akin to a dual clutch transmission or a high performance automatic. While we love the idea of a dual clutch being offered, it’s the manual version that would be our choice.

For around $45,000 we would absolutely consider a JCW GP Clubman with those stats. But it’s important to note that it would likely be a different type of experience than the JCW Clubman we drive every day. In its current form the JCW Clubman is perhaps the perfect daily driver. Comfortable when you want it to be and fast when you need it to be, the F54 JCW is the closet to perfection MINI has ever got in a four door package.

The JCW GP Clubman likely wouldn’t be as comfortable, as quiet and might sacrifice a bit of luxuries and utility in meeting a price point. While that might make it the perfect compromise for some, I would wager that most JCW Clubman owners might find the GP approach a bit too extreme and/or specific for their every day needs. Unless MINI changes course with its JCW GP approach and doesn’t compromise options or luxuries.

WWould I buy it over my current JCW Clubman? It may sound obvious but it’s simply too soon to say. The manual version of the JCW Clubman is such a well balanced car it’s hard to imagine you need more power to have more fun. Granted more power is great, but the real change we’d like to see would be a lighter flywheel and a freer revving engine. Those equal responsiveness which is more of a hallmark of the MINI brand than outright power.

  • SS56

    My wife has a 2016 Clubman S and loves it, it’s a fun car and at the $34k we paid for it is tolerably priced for what you get. I’d have gotten a Golf R for similar money myself. At $45k it will only sell to the die hard mini enthusiasts. At $45k I’m getting an Alfa Romeo or similar.

  • Eric

    45-50,000$ …without the “necessary” 15,000$ options For a Mini. LOL

  • So many shops are getting 280-300 hp out of this B48 engine without any hardware at all that it’s already well within reach with an $800 tune.

    • Jan Wojcik

      … and with software only, a Golf R can produce 370 hp and 380 ft-lbs torque and cost about 40K

      • I’m talking on 91 pump gas. The Golf R requires 93-95 to break the 330hp mark and they have to disable a lot of the safeties in the ECU. A few shops in Germany are playing with 91-94 adaptive tunes for the new B48, but I doubt they’ll go much farther than 330hp with the factory compression ratios. And you know what, I don’t care. Car is going in for a tune as soon as it’s broken in and I think 300 hp and 325 lb-ft is going to be more than plenty since the car is already plenty of fun as it is.

        If it were just about the power figures, I would be driving a Focus RS or a Golf R right now, but I’m not. I want something that is quick, nimble, fun, and refined. A day with each of the RS and the R was enough to convince me the interiors were too chintzy and juvenile for me (the R somehow manages to be childish and dull at the same time). So instead I wound up cross shopping against the CLA 45 AMG, Audi S3, and BMW 340xi, but since Canada doesn’t get the wagon version of ANY of those cars I decided to go with the JCW Clubman and save the $12k difference and spend some of it making a bit of power and noise after break in.

        I should also mention that MINI also gave me by far the best trade of any of them on my 2010 JCW along with a significant VIP discount and 0.9% financing. The trade offer I got from the VW dealer was frankly so insulting that I just got up and left; they tried a second offer on my way out, but I no longer wanted to do business with them. The MINI dealer I’ve been with for 10 years gave me $4k more in trade than the next best offer (the attached BMW dealer) and still sold my old car at a tidy profit before the week was out.

        • Jan Wojcik

          We could go back and forth … rather amusing to hear you call the R interior childish when MINI has yet to get the design of the interior or exterior right. I am amazed what a hot mess my wife’s F56 is every weekend when I clean it. All I saying is that I liked my R56 with its JCW add on it that as the cars have become big, the R has the ability to run circles around the new clubman at at a lesser cost. My TT-S makes just over 370 hp on pump gas and is the same motor as in the R. My mk 6 R made in the 330-340 hp when dynoed and was heavy but capable. We all have our reasons, I would buy another MINI if they made a well thought out GP but my feeling is the current JCW branding is analogous to what Chevy did with the SS models in past years and that was a joke.

        • It’s hard to describe the sensation when sitting in one, the material quality isn’t that much better than a Golf TSI and to keep it from being so sleep inducingly drab they added some lighting in the footwells and along the door cards. You know what would really make this boring interior less so? A glowing red line! Better make it so they can change it to blue just in case. And we better make the dead pedal huge and put a grille pattern on it so they know it’s a sports car.

          Mind you, it was still an order of magnitude better than the Mattel playset that was the interior of the Focus RS… except for the seats, those were awesome, but not enough to offset the chintziness of the entire package.

          Meanwhile, the Clubman is closer to the BMWs in terms of interiors than the Golf is to its Audi counterpart. I love that the S3 got the same digital instrument cluster treatment as the new TTS, but I just didn’t want to pay that much and sacrifice a bunch of functionality. If they had the sportback version here I probably would have jumped ship.

        • Oh… and FML is it ever hard to find a manual in the luxury car world now… the only BMW at a reasonable price is the 340xi… everything else is automagic this dualclutchtransmission that…

        • oldsbear

          Maybe my understanding of geometry and physics is lacking, but I think the only way the R could run circles around the Clubman is if the Clubman was parked.

        • Jan Wojcik

          It’s called more power and less weight with a better chassis….

          Do the math and learn the basics

        • oldsbear

          I get it now. “…more power and less weight with a better chassis…” make it possible to change the laws of motion. I thought I would never understand that one. Thanks for your patient guidance.

    • Kevin Bartlett

      Care to point me to some discussions on who’s getting that power. I want to look into that, Dinan piggyback is cheap and easy so I was leaning that way for mine.

      • Hi Kevin. So far the shops that are hitting these figures are mostly in Europe.

        BR-Performance Manhart Lohen Eurocharged (working on a boxed tune) Shifttech JM Turbo Coopers (gotta mail them your ECU)

        So far Lohen is having the best results with their adaptive tune (expects 94 and retards to a 91 mapping).

  • VaultDweller73

    Please change this click, bait slow loading page title to ‘Wouldn’t It Be Great To see A 2017 JCW Clubman VS a 300 HP JCW Clubman. Waste of time reading.

  • Kevin Bartlett

    To those pushing the Golf R, the ones I’ve driven didn’t impress me, just another Golf in many ways to my eyes…….but I’m not a huge fan of VW’s products so I’m not a good judge of them for people who do.

    Anyway, I suppose I’d have to drive this GP Clubman to see for myself. On the surface it makes little sense to have 4 levels of Clubman (5 in markets where there is a One flavor). They don’t sell many JCW’s BUT the GP’s have always been super super special limited anyway so why not go for it. Niche is BMW’s thing.

    If it weren’t as comfortable, or as quiet I would likely lose interest. I don’t need more power while cruising but enjoy the quiet, if there weren’t a quiet mode and adaptive suspension it’d be a hard sell.

    There are changes I’d like to see, but just more power and a more aggressive ride aren’t appealing to me. I wish 1st gear had more bite and didn’t run out of steam (I know those are counter to one another but somehow the R53 seemed to manage that).