Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Four engines available
  • Sole diesel likely to be a niche choice
  • Firebreathing JCW one of the fastest hot hatchbacks in its class

MINI has trimmed the Clubman’s engine range with the 2019 facelift, dropping down to a sole diesel engine but reinstating the high-end John Cooper Works performance model. This leaves a total of four engines, all of which are turbocharged.

The range kicks off with the Cooper. This uses a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine producing 136hp and paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It’s more than powerful enough for most drivers, and if you’re not a particular petrolhead it’s probably the pick of the range.

We found it quite noisy when pushed, though its relationship with the dual-clutch automatic is a good one. It’s fairly quick to respond and smooth in its changes, though it’s disappointing that steering wheel-mounted paddles don’t come as standard and manual shifting has to be accomplished through the awkwardly-shaped gear selector.

The Cooper D diesel could be the engine of choice for those who want minimal running costs. It’s a decent performer, too, with 150hp and ample torque. Confusingly, it uses an optional eight-speed torque converter automatic – this is a stronger gearbox, more capable of dealing with the added grunt of the diesel engine.

2019 MINI Clubman front cornering

The Cooper S is likely to be the pick of the range for keen drivers, with 192hp making for really decent performance. It too is paired with the seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box or a six-speed manual. We’re very familiar with this engine in smaller MINI models and are big fans of its effervescent character.

At the top of the range sits the JCW. With 306hp, this is one of the most powerful hot hatchbacks you can buy without venturing into the insane territory of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 or Audi RS 3. It’s an impressive engine with lots of mid-range response and an impressive 4.9-second 0-62mph sprint time.

The standard eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive do blunt responses somewhat, though, and we can’t help but think the JCW would be more fun with a manual transmission.

Handling

As with all MINIs, the Clubman’s grip levels are the star here. You can sling this car into corners at silly speeds and it will hold on tenaciously, while quick steering means you can string together lots of corners with quite satisfying results. The response isn’t quite as quick as on a MINI Hatch – this is a longer, heavier car, after all – but this is still one of the more satisfying mid-sized hatchbacks you can buy.

The JCW model should be the best in the range thanks to its sporting additions, but we found it rather tiresome to drive under all but the best circumstances. You really can feel the extra weight, and the standard all-wheel drive and automatic gearbox blunt responses somewhat. It’s still very grippy and fast, but not that much fun.