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TheCarConnection.com’s editors studied road tests from around the Web to write this comprehensive review of the new 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman.
The car experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the MINI Cooper S Clubman, and have included opinions and details to offer you a definitive opinion on this unique MINI. This review also compares the 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice, even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.
Let's get a couple things straight. First, the modern BMW-produced MINI Cooper made its debut in 2001, and more than 1 million units have been built and sold since. MINI's parent company BMW knew that the MINI brand couldn't survive with just one body style, so the wagon-style MINI Cooper S Clubman was shown in concept form throughout 2006 and 2007, and then arrived as a true production model in 2008.
MINI's newly stretched model harkens back to the extended Travellers, Countrymans, and Estates sold under the MINI nameplate from 1960 to 1982. Keeping our names straight, adding an "S" after the Cooper denote a performance version, so the 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman you're reading about here is a MINI's latest hot-rod "estate" (what they call wagons in Merry Old England). For the sake of clarity, note that MINI refers to their car as a Cooper S Clubman, and not a Clubman S (as some Web sites identify the car).
This long-roofed, stretched 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman is a roomier MINI that still maintains the personality of the original. You could consider it a maxi MINI. Undoubtedly, its most important features include the added passenger-side mini-door (similar to those on the Mazda RX-8 or the Saturn Ion) and the extra room in the backseat. Rear passengers will enjoy vastly more interior legroom: the Clubman sports a 9.5-inch addition to its wheelbase, allowing for a 3.2-inch increase in legroom.
On the 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman, twin cargo doors replace the hatch found on regular Coopers, and these doors open up to a larger cargo area (32.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down; with the seats raised, the Clubman still carries 9.1 cubic feet of stuff).
While the extra interior room is appreciated, along with the fact that adults can ride willingly in the larger rear seat area, all is not perfect in the 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman. While the interior's style is fun to look at, it's less fun to live with. Glare off the huge center speedometer is distracting, and the controls and switches are, well, mini. Many can't be operated with gloves on (several reviewers live in Michigan; the rest are merely fashionable). The switchgear also feels flimsy. Additionally, we wondered why MINI didn't add a second half-door to the driver's side of the Clubman--it would make both rear seats easier to get into. Currently, only the passenger side seat is conveniently accessible.
The 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman's engine and gearbox range mirrors that of the MINI Cooper S, which TheCarConnection.com previously tested. The non-S powerplant is a normally aspirated, 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 120 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. It's paired either to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. This "S" version gets the turbocharged version of the same engine, which, in U.S. trim, blows out 175 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. This power propels the longer Clubman to 60 mph in less than 7.6 seconds, and to a top speed of 139 mph, so the MINI Cooper S Clubman is quick, but it's not a rocket. Power comes on smoothly, and the six-speed manual shifts very nicely with very positive engagement.
All U.S. 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman models get a raft of standard safety gear, including six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, Cornering Brake Control (CBC), and Brake Assistant. Stability and traction control with hill-start assistance are also standard. Drivers who worry about driving a manual gearbox in hilly areas will appreciate the hill-start feature, which holds the vehicle in place to give drivers time to move their right foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator. How considerate.
As with other MINIs, a huge variety in color and trim choices are available on the 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman.
- Keen sense of style
- Perky attitude and power
- Extra rear-seat room
- Door #3-Design details
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Interior functionality
- Where’s door #4?
- Still pretty mini inside
- Worries about quality