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TheCarConnection.com's editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2009 MINI Cooper to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident experts also drove the MINI Cooper to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.
The 2009 MINI Cooper Clubman made its debut for 2008 essentially as a new body style of the MINI Cooper, with dual swing-out rear doors, that coincided with a redesign of the MINI Cooper line. With the new design come new engines, a better ride, and a richer interior.
In the tradition of the MINI Traveller, the MINI Cooper Clubman is a roomier MINI that maintains the personality of the original, with more cargo space and easier access to the backseats. The added passenger-side mini-door (similar to those in the Mazda RX-8 and now discontinued Saturn Ion) is undoubtedly one of its most important features. So is expanded rear legroom; backseat passengers will enjoy vastly more space (an additional 3.2 inches), thanks to a wheelbase that picks up 9.5 inches. Twin cargo doors replace the hatch found in regular Coopers, and they open up to a larger cargo area: 32.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, 9.1 with them still up.
The Clubman is the choice for those who plan to have backseat passengers; adults can ride willingly in back, though all is not perfect inside. The instrument panel is just plain wacky, glare off the central speedometer is distracting, controls can’t be used with gloves on, and the switchgear feels flimsy. Also, the half back door on the driver’s side of the Clubman isn’t all that useful; getting in still requires some contortion for tall folks.
The engine and gearbox in the MINI—along with nearly all of the mechanicals—mirror those in the MINI Cooper line. The non-S powerplant gets 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.
The Clubman S can get to 60 mph in less than 7.6 seconds, for a top speed of 139 mph. While the S is quick, the standard Clubman is responsive, hitting 0-60 in just over nine seconds. In either version, power comes on smoothly, and the six-speed manual shifts very nicely with very positive engagement. The base engine has highway fuel economy of up to 28/37 mpg.
Overall, the Clubman has a ride that’s surprisingly good, with very little of the road noise that’s expected from smaller cars. The new electric power steering works well, but there’s an artificial feel that's contrary to everything else about the MINI.
Six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction control are standard on the MINI Cooper Clubman. Stability and traction control are standard, as is a hill-start feature that holds the vehicle in place when starting uphill. The MINI Cooper gets mostly four-star crash ratings from NHTSA and a five-star rating for rollover resistance.
- Decent ride quality
- Sharp responses
- Turbo thrust (S)
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- Electric power steering
- Options add up quickly