Earlier this week we dropped the bombshell that MINI was preparing to release several all wheel drive Clubman models. While the Cooper and Cooper S will surely be the volume leaders, it’s the idea of a ALL4 JCW that has gotten many of us excited.
For those who’ve read MotoringFile over the past few years none of this should come as a surprise. We’ve known that MINI was designing it’s larger vehicles for all wheel drive. Further we’ve had sources have been telling us for years that MINI’s ultimate plans for JCW would include all wheel drive. Now we can officially confirm all of these rumors are coming to fruition with the 2017 JCW Clubman ALL4.
The 2017 JCW Clubman will use the slightly revised ALL4 system that first debuted in the F48 BMW X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer. That system will make its MINI debut in the Clubman Cooper S ALL4 with production beginning in March. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the JCW Clubman which is currently scheduled to begin production in November of 2016 as a 2017 model.
Power output of the much rumored JCW Clubman has been thought to be anywhere from the 228 hp figure seen on the F56 JCW to something as high as 300 hp. The latter figure has been bandied about for a couple of years with the thought that BMW would be bringing to market higher output versions B48 for its own cars based on the UKL platform. While that may still happen for the BMW brand, sources are telling us that MINI will stick with the 228hp version of the B48 engine for the 2017 JCW Clubman. Yes the larger, heavier JCW Clubman will make due with the exact same engine found in the F56 JCW. At least according to our sources.
While some may see that as a disappointment, it’s worth noting that all wheel drive will provide better traction and should allow for acceleration figures close to the smaller F56 JCW. In addition to this we’re also been told MINI plans on offering both manual and automatic versions of the JCW Clubman ALL4. Simply having an all wheel drive performance car offered with a manual in markets like the US is worth celebrating.
So we know timing and output from our sources but final pricing is still a bit of a mystery. However if we look at the historical pricing differences between the Cooper S and JCW and add in the price premium of ALL4 (currently offered on the Countryman) we come with something between a $8,000 and $9,000 increase over the Cooper S Clubman. That would put the base price around $34k and change. How does that price compare to other performance all wheel drive models? And does that even matter given MINI’s premium design and engineering? That will be a question debated for years to come. In the meantime we can’t wait to see it, drive it and dissect what will certainly be considered MINI’s halo product offering for 2017.
(These technical details are identical to what we published earlier in the week when we reported on the ALL4 Clubman. Given
that the ALL4 system will be basically the same technical set-up between standard MINI models and the JCW, we thought they were worth repeating)
The system is major revision to the one that debuted on the R60 Countryman. Power from the front drive to the rear axle is transferred by means of an angular gear (Power Take-Off) on the front differential and a two-part cardan shaft. The central component of the four-wheel drive system is an electro-hydraulically controlled multiple-disk clutch (Hang-On) inside the rear axle drive, which facilitates infinitely variable distribution of torque to the front and rear wheels. The corresponding commands are provided by an electronic control unit which, like the hydraulic pump, is located on the rear axle. The idea is completely invisible engagement resulting in constant traction in any condition.
The angular gear is mounted behind the engine on the automatic transmission and crankcase. The input shaft is a hollow shaft construction and directly connected to the front axle differential. In this way, part of the drive force is transferred from the differential basket to the cardan shaft via the hollow shaft, the crown wheel and the pinion shaft. The angular gear operates at a fixed gear ratio (1:1.74) and is permanently engaged, meaning that the cardan shaft always rotates when the vehicle is driven. Reversal of transmission takes place in the rear axle drive so that the front and rear axle drive shafts both rotate at exactly the same speed.
The multiple-disk clutch located in the rear axle drive (Hang-On) directs a proportion of torque to the rear wheels according to each driving situation, ensuring optimal power distribution between the front and rear. In extreme cases (e.g. the front wheels are standing on ice), the ratio can be 0:100. The required operating pressure (0 to 40 bar) is delivered by an electro-hydraulic pump, the speed of which is defined by a pulse-width-modulated signal from the electronic control unit. Pressure is not measured by a sensor, but extremely accurately by means of voltage and power alignment. In order to ensure maximum positioning accuracy, run-in behaviour and temperature influences are independently compensated, the system constantly adapting to ever changing operating conditions. We told you this is an improvement.
As before, when extra traction isn’t required the ALL4 system reverts to front wheel drive improving efficiency. That means the pump is deactivated, rendering the system unpressurised. In order to make use of additional saving potentials, the system has a multiple-disk clutch with a spring-loaded Efficient valve, which lowers the oil level in the clutch and significantly reduces friction losses (oil splash losses). When required, the system takes only fractions of a second to build up maximum operating pressure in the Efficient mode and thus deliver maximum torque to the rear wheels. As you’d expect this all happens without loss in traction or any discernible change in the drivetrain.
Like all MINI and BMW all wheel drive systems, everything is managed from the control unit of the Dynamic Stability Control feature (DSC). DSC analyses a large amount of data providing information in an effort to ensure optimum distribution of drive torque. This information includes vehicle speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, steering angle, wheel speed, longitudinal inclination, accelerator position and the setup via Driving Experience Control. Any adjustments are made within fractions of a second in an effort to make power distribution between the two axles virtually unnoticed by the driver. In addition to this, torque distribution is precisely regulated as to avoid any loss of power due to wheel spin.
Due to the DSC controlling everything, wheel slip can be detected at an early stage. In an example where a Clubman threatens to drift outwards over the front wheels (understeer), increased tractive force is supplied to the rear axle, allowing the vehicle to turn in more accurately. On the other hand, ALL4 directs excess force to the front wheels, should the rear of the vehicle threaten to swerve outwards. As a result, maximum four-wheel performance is available even before slippage occurs. Therefore, xDrive featured in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer not only ensures best possible traction and safety in adverse road conditions, but also enhances vehicle stability, cornering dynamics and ride comfort. In driving situations where the interconnection of all four wheels is disadvantageous – i.e. in an emergency stop – the system opens the multiple-disk clutch completely within milliseconds.
Only if optimum power distribution to the front and rear axle is not sufficient to keep the Active Tourer on the desired course, DSC intervenes by reducing engine output and/or by decelerating individual wheels. Moreover, DSC assumes the function of a transverse differential lock: If a wheel spins without transferring power, it is automatically slowed down, whereby the axle differential directs more power to the wheel opposite.