My main problem with the Clubman is the lack of a traditional hatchback door. If you're transporting larger items, you've got to open both rear doors, and there's always an unreasonably large obstruction in the rearview mirror from the door frames. I just don't understand why the designers at Mini discarded a perfectly good hatch and started from scratch to create this flawed set of doors.
As far as the JCW upgrades go, I'm always a fan of the increased power, but I hate the ride from the performance run-flat tires and incredibly stiff suspension. The Clubman is quite a bit more civilized than a regular Cooper with the JCW suspension, but it's still too brutal for Michigan roads.
As far as the cost goes, this is just a front-wheel-drive BMW in my book, and anything from JCW is more or less equated to BMW's M division in my head. If you look at the price and think of the other cars available for $33k, it isn't entirely logical. However, Mini has done an outstanding job of building a premium brand in the U.S., and there are Mini diehards who would buy a vehicle like this even if it were $50,000.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor