What do you call a MINI Cooper that isn’t really “mini” anymore? It’s called a Clubman, and MINI designed it for those who want the sporty handling of the traditional MINI Cooper but need a larger compact with greater utility.
How big is it? The Clubman is around 10 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the four-door Cooper hatchback, and comes with a 4-inch longer wheelbase. This gives compact hatchback shoppers another option.
This week, we got to see what makes the Clubman a viable option for urban dwellers.
The MINI Cooper Clubman receives a complete remodel for 2016. It gets stretched in all directions, translating to a larger and more usable backseat and cargo area. What hasn’t changed is the sporty ride and handling.
The 2016 MINI Cooper S Clubman ($27,650) comes standard with automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver-selectable vehicle setting modes, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, and multicolor ambient lighting.
The Mini Cooper S Clubman has a more powerful, 2.0-liter turbo engine, 17-inch wheels, foglights, and front sport seats with adjustable thigh support.
It’s easy to load up any MINI with options and this tester came with another $10,000 in upgrades, pushing the price up. The optional Technology package ($1,750) adds a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. The JCW Interior package ($400) added a JCW leather steering wheel and Anthracite headliner.
Other options included a Premium package ($1,800) with keyless entry, moonroof, and harmon/kardon premium sound. There is a Burgundy leather upgrade ($1,500), heated front seats ($500), LED headlights ($1,000), and heads-up display ($750).
Total MSRP including destination: $37,000.
Th optional packages pushed this MINI Clubman into near luxury territory with its Burgundy leather, heated seats, leather steering wheel, and heads-up display. The material quality is dialed up with the remodel and this cabin felt comfortable.
It’s sounds like an oxymoron, but this MINI felt big inside.
The cabin will fit four adults comfortably and still leave room for cargo behind the rear seat. We were able to load cargo after opening the quirky van-like rear doors, and had plenty of room for the extra boxes this week. With both doors open, there’s 17.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up. Fold the rear seats flat and it offers up 47.9 cubes of cargo carrying utility.
The rear doors are bigger making it easy to get in and out.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The MINI Cooper S Clubman features a 2.0-liter TwinPower turbo four-cylinder engine producing 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Our tester came with the smooth shifting, 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox sending power to the front wheels.
It gets an EPA estimated 22/32 city/highway and 26 combined mpg with the manual shifting gearbox.
Unfortunately, April snow storm Vexo limited our seat time in the MINI Cooper S Clubman. It comes with sport performance tires and they don’t work well in the 2 feet of snow that fell this week in the mountains of Colorado. We had a couple days before the storm hit, however, and got a good feel for its abilities on dry pavement.
Even with its bigger size, the MINI Cooper S Clubman is nimble, sporty, and high on the fun-to-drive meter. The driving dynamics can be described as agile and the 6-speed manual ramps up driver engagement to a higher level.
The longer wheelbase makes for a more comfortable, refined ride.
We chucked the Clubman around the tight mountain corners and it turned like a sports car with very little body roll. The clutch took a bit of getting used to, but once we got acquainted with its short catch, it performed like a more expensive performance car. The 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder is a great engine – you won’t find a better match when combined with the McPherson struts up front and rear multi-link suspension.
On the twisty mountain roads, it inspires driver confidence that few rivals can match.
The Clubman’s longer wheelbase and more comfortable ride, combined with a quieter cabin make it a joy to drive on longer jaunts. With its increased cargo and passenger carrying abilities, the Clubman competes well with other hatchbacks.
If you don’t load up your MINI with a lot of expensive options, it’s a good choice for urban dwellers wanting a fun, sporty commuter.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy