MINI’s all-wheel drive Clubman All4 is perfect for winter weather

With so many MINI models in circulation, it was probably inevitable that there would be some overlap. MINI sells the Countryman crossover, but the only things that really separate this vehicle from the four-door Clubman wagon are a taller driving position and all-wheel drive. Now, one of those advantages is gone.

In an admirably sensible move, MINI is adding all-wheel drive to the Clubman. The Clubman All4 should provide all of the foul-weather capability and most of the utility of a subcompact crossover like the Countryman, but with sweeter handling and a less pretentious attitude.

To give the Clubman all-wheel drive, MINI added a prop shaft and a rear differential with an electro-hydraulic clutch. The system defaults to front-wheel drive, and only sends power to the rear wheels when needed. This will likely help with fuel economy, and means the Clubman All4 probably won’t feel terribly different from a standard Clubman most of the time.

In the labyrinthine MINI lineup, the Clubman is still distinguished by its four doors, stretched wheelbase, and van-like rear doors in place of the hatch used on other MINI models. MINI quotes the same 17.5 cubic feet of cargo space (47.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded), so adding the rear differential apparently hasn’t compromised storage space.

Also unchanged are the powertrain offerings. Like the front-wheel drive Clubman, the base Cooper Clubman All4 (as it’s properly known) gets a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, while the Cooper S Clubman All4 uses a 2.0-liter turbo four, which produces 189 hp and 206 lb-ft.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard with either engine, while an eight-speed automatic is optional. MINI says the base Clubman All4 will do 0 to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds with the automatic and 9.2 seconds with the manual. The sportier “S” model takes 6.7 seconds with the manual transmission, and 6.6 seconds with the automatic. MINI says both times are 0.3 second quicker than the front-wheel drive model. Top speeds are 125 mph for the Clubman and 140 mph for the Clubman S.

The MINI Clubman All4 starts at $26,750, while the Clubman S starts at $30,300 (both prices include destination). That’s an $1,800 premium over the front-wheel drive Clubman in both cases. It’ll be interesting to see what impact the new all-wheel drive wagon has on Countryman sales.

Updated 1/20/16

We added pricing information, which wasn’t available at the time of publication.

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