2016 MINI Cooper S Clubman Review
A stylish, fun alternative to a family hatch or wagon
Published: January 20th, 2016
MINI's Cooper Clubman is an oxymoron - there is nothing mini about it. Don't worry loyalists, there are still plenty of MINI's styling cues all over the new Clubman, but in terms of size, this is the largest MINI the automaker has ever built. It also happens to be MINI's most sophisticated ride, expertly blending premium British craftsmanship with world-class German engineering. The result is a spacious, attractive, fun-to-drive vehicle that serves as a nice alternative to a family hatchback, wagon, or CUV.
Exterior: Clubman, Cooper Clubman
While this isn't the James Bond high-speed getaway car, it embodies the handsome charm of the British agent. It's timeless style. Smooth, crisp lines create a streamlined body giving the vehicle a svelte shape, despite its size increase. Dramatic air intake ducts highlight the front fascia, with MINI's signature oval-shaped headlights - in LEDs. The new model is also a full foot longer than the previous Clubman.
- Front and rear passengers benefit from added legroom.
- The new Clubman gets four conventional doors in addition to the Clubman's classic split rear doors.
- The vehicle sits lower and wider, much like the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer from which it shares its technology.
Interior: Refined, but not pretentious
MINI has made good use of mixing high-quality materials of differing textures to give the cabin a sophisticated look. Comfortable heated front sport seats can be wrapped in Chesterfield Leather with diamond pattern stitching for an added touch. This is also the first MINI to get a proper armrest between the two front seats. There's no included backup camera, only part of a $1,750 technology package.
- The S model also comes with a sport leather steering wheel.
- Ambient lighting comes standard with 12 adjustable settings to change color options.
- Occupying the front dash is MINI's circle-shaped operating system, housing a BMW-grade satellite navigation that comes standard with a 6.5-inch display.
Driving Impressions: Hasn't lost the go-kart fun factor
At the heart of the Clubman is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four, paired with a six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic. There are three different driving modes: sport, green, and mid. While mid delivers smooth, linear driving, green mode will optimize fuel efficiency, tweaking shift points, while sport tightens the steering and adjusts the throttle to be more aggressive.
- An added 50 horsepower in the S model brings it to 189 ponies, making it lively and adept.
- MINIs are known for their "go-kart" handling, and while the sheer size of the Clubman makes it a little less nimble, its lower stance, and tightly-tuned suspension deliver precise motoring on the road.
- Smooth, quick shifts, peppy acceleration and precise cornering uphold the MINI's reputation for spirited driving.
Final Impressions: A car you can't help but smile at when you see it
The MINI has long been regarded as an enjoyable and entertaining vehicle to drive, and the new Clubman carries this torch forward. Throwing the Cooper in sport mode made me grin from ear-to-ear when I was zipping around in the Clubman. It hasn't lost its "go-kart" fun factor to increased size. In fact, its increased size has made it more appealing now to those wanting the added space, four doors, and versatility. It's not so large that its cumbersome to maneuver, but it's improvements definitely make it a standout against its intended targets. It's hard to definitively classify which segment the Clubman falls into, because it has really moved into a class of its own.
Specifications & Price
Engine: 2.0-liter MINI TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 189 horsepower / 207 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 22 city / 32 highway
Base Price: $27,650
As Tested: $32,550 (incl. $850 destination)
Options on our test vehicle: Cloth/leather in Cord Black, Thunder Grey metallic paint, comfort access keyless entry, heated front seats, LED headlights, park distance control, satellite radio
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 MINI Clubman, click here: 2016 MINI Clubman.