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• Likes: John Cooper Works trim, legend, horsepower.

• Dislikes: Expensive options, rear door pillars hinder rear visibility.

This week, we’re driving the top-line and powerful 2020 MINI Cooper Clubman, a four-door model built to deliver surprising driving comfort with room for five. 

Wrapped in an extended wheelbase design with all the looks and performance MINI Coopers are known for, this MINI arrived in “ALL4” AWD trim and, most important, with the John Cooper Works legendary performance goodies.

With the MINI’s cultlike following still growing and similar to its popularity when introduced in the United Kingdom back in 1959, today’s MINI Cooper still receives final assembly in Oxford, Cowley, UK, although its modern-day build is spiced with 5% of the parts coming from Canada and the United States, and the main drivetrain features a transmission from Belgium and engine from Germany.

Our tester is a tribute to its famous founder John Cooper, who developed his beloved MINI while building a reputation as a Formula 1 race car driver/builder. Using a sideways-mounted engine and a then yet to be proven front-wheel-drive layout, Cooper not only founded the Cooper Car Co., he drove to three Monte Carlo Rally titles and 16 Grand Prix wins in his Formula 1 Cooper machines. 

His name lives on as today’s MINI Coopers are better than ever and priced appropriately, meaning even those on a tighter budget can still afford one.

Many MINI Coopers, starting with the entry $23,400 MINI 2-door Hardtop to our top-line John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4 performance model that starts at $39,400, are available. In either front or AWD, in short- and long-wheelbase trims, there are 14 other MINI trims to choose from.   

Listed as the most sophisticated MINI to date, our tester featured a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that now delivers 301 horsepower and 331 lb.-ft. of torque with a top speed of 155 mph. Coupled to a Steptronic eight-speed dual-clutch paddle shift automatic transmission, we timed our tester from zero to 60 mph in a very impressive 4.5-second range. 

Last year, this same engine produced 228 horsepower, so the increase in power is the biggest advancement for 2020.

MINI’s racing-bred suspension and the combination of a lightweight chassis, the high-tech transmission and turbo engine allow keeping up with most anything on the highway. The MPG numbers are also noteworthy, as 23 city and 31 highway are very good for a 4x4 performance vehicle.

The ALL4 system shifts power from the front to the rear wheels in just a quarter of a second when called on. It is also lighter and more compact than previous all-wheel drive platforms for better handling, fuel efficiency and interior space.

Inside, MINI John Cooper Works Clubman models feature a cabin that is roomy in front and just a bit tight in the rear. 

Our four-door Clubman makes access to the rear seat easy, while twin rear cargo doors swing open automatically, a nice touch when your hands are full or empty. 

On the safety side, eight airbags with side curtain setup, outstanding and large performance ABS disc brakes, dynamic stability, corner brake control, electronic brake force and much more are standard fare. 

Special toggle switches are noteworthy, as is the overall BMW-quality build.

A $7,000 Iconic Trim package adds Piano Black exterior paint, panoramic sunroof, auto-dim mirrors, SiriusXM with one-year subscription, Harmon Kardon Premium stereo upgrade and a heads-up display. 

Also included is a touch-screen navigation with wireless charging and Apple CarPlay compatibility.         

A Driver Assistance package for $850 adds park distance control, active cruise control and parking assist, while $850 delivery brings the final retail to $48,100.

In summary, this 2020 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman is the best MINI I’ve driven.  

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.

PHOTO CAPTION: The 2020 MINI John Cooper Works Clubman. [BMW of North America]


Auto Bits

How the COVID-19 crisis could change car buying

The COVID-19 crisis could change why people buy cars, how they buy them and even who thinks they need to own a vehicle, according to a global survey conducted by consultant Capgemini.

The survey quizzed more than 11,000 potential buyers in 11 countries that account for 62% of global vehicle sales.

“We’re going to see individual vehicle usage rise as people more concerned with hygiene choose personal transportation,” said Daniel Davenport of Capgemini’s North America auto sector. 

While 35% of all people surveyed globally were considering getting a car this year, 45% of those under 35 were considering doing so and a majority of the latter group have never owned a car.

“It’s potentially a seismic shift,” Davenport said.

The survey included people in China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States. Capgemini surveyed about 1,000 people in each country.

Among the results:

• Globally, 46% said they’d be less likely to use public transportation in the future.

• In China and India, 71% and 70% of consumers wanted to compare financing and deals without going to a dealership. The U.S. came in third at 49%.

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press


Did You Know

In 1939, Packard became the first automotive manufacturer to offer an air conditioning unit in its cars.