If MINI wants, I’ll come by Oxford and help them figure out a new naming system because hearing someone say the full name of any new MINI makes me briefly wonder if they’ve had a stroke. It’s also annoying to type, so I’ll definitely lend a hand if they need it (I’ll do it for a trip to Oxford, free fish ‘n chips and some good Stout, MINI). But I digress, because, naming aside, the new MINI Clubman is actually a very good car. But how good is it with the new ALL4 all-wheel drive system? Car and Driver finds out.
The particular model C&D tested was the MINI Cooper S Clubman ALL4, which is BMW/MINI speak means that it has the 2.0 liter turbocharged B48 four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. Their particular tester also had the six-speed manual, as it should. Now, some people find an all-wheel drive MINI to be a bit sacrilegious, but I personally think the idea of a turbocharged, manual, all-wheel drive MINI to be kind of cool. It almost harkens back to MINI’s rally days. At least in my mind, it does. Anyway, what’s it like to drive?
Well, Car and Driver wasn’t impressed with the performance. With 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, the Clubman ALL4 takes a slightly sluggish 7.3 seconds to get from 0-60 mph. A lot of that likely has to do with the extra weight and drivetrain loss attributed to the all-wheel drive system. The front-wheel drive model is likely quicker. However C&D did feel that, with only a tick over 1,000 miles on the odometer, the engine needed more breaking in to function at its best. They also weren’t a fan of the gearbox, a six-speed manual Getrag unit, as it felt a bit notchy when trying to shift quickly and requires a slower, smoother approach.
They also felt that it wasn’t the best handling car, thanks to the fact that under most circumstances, it’s actually just front-wheel drive, only using the rear axle when slippage is detected. This means it’s usually a front-wheel drive car with a weight penalty. One of the aspects of the Clubman that’s been complained about before, from us as well, is the tires. With standard Pirelli Cintuarto P7 all-season tires, the Clubman is seriously under-tired and it costs the car significant handling and traction capabilities. A Continental ExtremeContact DWS or Michelin Pilot Sport A/S would probably help.
Having said all that, C&D does say that the Clubman is a pretty well rounded little car. It has enough space to be practical, is comfortable enough for long journeys and good enough to drive to be decent fun. In our personal opinion, and judging from C&D’s review, don’t opt for the ALL4 all-wheel drive system. It’s rarely engaged, giving the car a performance, handling and efficiency penalty for very little traction benefit and, with decent winter tires, it will be fine with just front-wheel drive in bad weather. Plus, losing the added weight and drivetrain loss of ALL4 will help it be more fun, faster and more efficient while still providing the same amount of comfort and practicality.