MF Garage: Our JCW Clubman Hits 8,000 Miles With No Issues And Lots of Smiles

Thanks to the appealing utility and performance of our JCW Clubman, we’re racking up miles at a quick pace – 8,000 miles in 7 months so far. Enough that we have plenty of opinions on MINI’s fastest model.

This is our second Clubman in as many years with our first being a manual Cooper S model. While the price premium may be a tough pill to swallow for some (45k as tested), the performance of the JCW (especially with all wheel drive and 258 ft lbs of torque) is hard to argue with. Coupled with the quick shifting 8 speed auto and it’s a very effective package and generating grins.

It’s worth noting that those 8,000 miles have come and gone with zero issues (not even a rattle or noise). The quality of MINIs has seemingly increased dramatically over the early years of the R50 and R53. They have now become reliable, fun and even comfortable transportation (that last one is always subjective mind you). This Clubman in particular feels solid in the best tradition of German automakers sense. Sounds weird to say that but it’s clear that BMW build quality is finally evident in MINIs, 15 years after the brand’s relaunch.

The JCW Clubman itself has been a wonderful package to live with daily. To us it represents the best combination of performance and utility that MINI sells. Lighter and lower than the Countryman with the same interior space (sans some height), the Clubman is also a great value costing $1,000s less. And that’s before the discounts many dealers are currently giving them.

That doesn’t mean our JCW Clubman is perfect. We’d love to see a bit more power and 0-60 times below six seconds. A wider off-set (bringing the wheels and tires out a few millimeters) and a very subtle drop in height would also do wonders in making the JCW Clubman look like the $45k performance car it feels like.

With our time with the car more than half over, we’re dreading the day it heads back to MINIUSA. Perhaps more than any test car since our 2012 JCW Roadster.

  • Mendel Tomas

    Wheel spacers would help the stance of your Clubman. 15mm spacers seem to do wonders on F54/55/56/57s.

    • b-

      It’s a test car, why drop the money on that?

      • Mendel Tomas

        A minor expense.

  • Kevin Bartlett

    I agree, its a great car for everyday life while still having some fun. Far better in every way than the R53’s and R56’s that came before it. However my experience has been that an F54 can’t replace an R53 in character and driving experience. So I’ve decided to find an R53 to keep alive for those times when I don’t need 4 doors, or GPS just four wheels and a nice road.

    • Agreed. Same reason I own a BMW 2002 from the 70s. There’s nothing that can replace that experience.

    • Johnny Boots

      That’s why I have both! I kept my 04 R53 when I bought my 17 F54 JCW. I’m actually driving the R53 a little bit more to keep the miles off the F54 which is up to 12k already. Oddly though my R53 has 226k miles on it.

      • Kevin Bartlett

        I had let go of my R53 couple of years ago. Went through a couple of other cars (BMW wagon, Miata (2nd Car), MINI R56 Mayfair (traded the Miata on), then an F54 JCW (traded the BMW and the R56 in). I’m up to 13k on mine, so I bought an 06 R53 JCW (won a BAT auction) and took a short trip to retrieve it. It needs some additional TLC but it drives like I remember for the most part. Should’ve never let go of the first one but hindsight is 20 / 20