2010 MINI Cooper Clubman Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 8, 2009

A big-bodied extrovert, the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman's the most desirable MINI for anyone beyond their single stage of life.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the MINI Cooper Clubman to bring you this hands-on road test. Editors also studied reviews from other respected Web sites and have compiled a companion full review that brings you the best observations from around the Web. TheCarConnection.com also compared the MINI Clubman to similar vehicles to help you make an informed car-buying decision.

The 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman is pulled from the same taffy as the MINI Cooper hatchback and convertible, but it's stretched out and adds doors in an attempt to make the endearing MINI Cooper a little more practical. With a base price of $19,105 for the Clubman and $22,545 for the Clubman S, the prime competition for the MINI wagon includes the likes of the 2010 Volkswagen GTI, the 2010 Audi A3, and the 2010 Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3.

All the styling hallmarks of the Cooper hatchback carry over on the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman, with a few more cutlines and a more vertical rear end. The classic pop-eyed headlamps, the chromed grille's "smile," the vertical windshield, and low, flat roof of the vintage Mini Coopers are here. The Clubman's elongated body stays true to form even in back, where the doors and tail are modeled after 1960s wagons like the Mini Countryman and Traveller. A few cues separate the base Clubman from the S, most visibly the subtly domed hood over the S' turbocharger. The homage to the MINI's past is less accurate inside the Clubman, where a duplicate of the current Cooper's dash hangs. In some ways, it's just plain wacky. The big, optimistic 160-mph speedometer in the middle of the dash is lifted from old Minis, but it's just plain distracting there, with a sharp glare and lots of embedded displays out of the driver's sight lines. The dash also has lots of small toggle switches, buttons, and levers rendered in chrome, as well as some plasticky, flimsy-feeling switchgear. It's chaotic-but it's somehow unified around a circles-and-wings theme that charms away its major ergonomic and quality shortcomings.

Sprightly performance carries over nearly intact from the Cooper hatchback to the MINI Clubman wagon. The engines and gearboxes, along with nearly all of the mechanicals, are duplicated here. Base Clubman wagons use a 118-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder, paired either to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. TheCarConnection.com strongly recommends the manual to wring out every ounce of driving fun, as this MINI takes 8.9 seconds to hit 60 mph and tops out at 125 mph. With the Clubman S, there's a turbocharged version of the same engine, with 172 hp, a 0-60 mph time of about 7 seconds, and a top speed of 139 mph. This cut-and thrust powerplant is also best savored with the manual; it's a perfect slice-and-dice duo for city streets, though the automatic Clubman S with a sport package gets paddle controls for shifting. Clubman fuel economy checks in at 28/36 mpg; the Clubman S registers 26/34 mpg. Ride and handling are top-notch on middling to smooth roads; there the MINI has controlled motions and is stiff but resilient enough, with very little of the road noise that's expected from smaller cars. However, potholes can feel and sound like mortar fire; it's still a small car with low-profile tires. The Clubman's electric power steering works well enough, but has an artificial feel that's contrary to everything else about the MINI. A sport function speeds up its response a little too much.

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In the tradition of the Mini Countryman and Traveller, the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman adds some much-needed rear-seat legroom and back-end cargo space, as well as easier access to the backseats. The body is 9.4 inches longer than a Cooper hatchback, and the wheelbase gets 3.2 inches out of that addition, which helps the ride quality and doesn't disturb the adequate space set aside from front passengers in their nicely pocketed bucket seats. In the Clubman transition, MINI also cuts a small, right-side, rear-hinged Clubdoor to aid access to the backseats; those seats offer more legroom, for sure, and adults will ride there willingly, but access still is difficult despite four times more entry space, as claimed by MINI. The Clubman also sports more cargo space, with 32.6 cubic feet of room in back with the rear seats folded down, and 9.1 with them still up. The Clubman's tail gets barn-style doors and a flat load floor that can be fitted with a hard cover for security. It's truly more useful, even if you must open the right door before the left. While the MINI's road noise is fairly subdued, all MINIs tested by TheCarConnection.com have had creaky bodies with squeaks and rattles coming from various plastic trim pieces; the MINI's cabin oozes with design flair, but material and build quality just don't measure up to its price tag.

Safety gear is up to par. The 2010 Clubman gets six airbags as standard equipment, as well as anti-lock brakes and stability control, and a hill-start feature that holds the vehicle in place when starting uphill. Traction control is an option. The MINI Cooper Clubman hasn't been crash-tested, but the similar MINI Cooper gets mostly four-star ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) rates the similar MINI Cooper hatchback as "good" for front impacts and "acceptable" for side impacts.

The MINI brand is built around customization, so while the 2010 Cooper Clubman's list of standard features isn't comprehensive, there's an entire world of accessories, paint and trim options, and other add-ons available to MINI owners. All Clubmans come with vinyl upholstery, air conditioning, a trip computer, ambient lighting, and an AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary jack. The Clubman's power locks are built into a round starter that takes the place of a metal key. From there, the Clubman's a palette for the owner's tastes; checked cloth or pinstripe or leather upholstery can be ordered, along with painted wheels, roof decals of the U.S. or British flags, white-capped mirrors, chrome trim galore, and color panels for the dash and door panels are just the beginning. Performance add-ons include 16-, 17-, and 18-inch wheels, as well as the range of John Cooper Works underhood tweaks. A sunroof, roof racks, a rear roof spoiler, Bluetooth, a USB/iPod adapter, and a navigation system with real-time traffic and LCD readouts displayed in the speedometer are the major options. The MINI's chaotic set of controls really can lose an unfamiliar driver when the navigation system needs a new address; its joystick control isn't all that intuitive, and the readout's not as large or comprehensive as that on better systems. Ordering just a few of these options can send the price tag into maxi territory.

9

2010 MINI Cooper Clubman

Styling

The 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman has the right heritage and styling cues, but its crazy-quilt controls and cockpit styling look better than they act.

The 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman is pulled from the same taffy as the MINI Cooper hatchback and convertible, but it's stretched longer and adds doors in an attempt to make the endearing MINI Cooper a little more practical. With a base price of $19,105 for the Clubman and $22,545 for the Clubman S, the prime competition for the MINI wagon includes the likes of the 2010 Volkswagen GTI, the 2010 Audi A3, and the 2010 Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3.

All the styling hallmarks of the Cooper hatchback carry over to the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman, with a few more cutlines and a more vertical rear end. The classic pop-eyed headlamps, the chromed grille's "smile," the vertical windshield, and low, flat roof of the vintage Mini Coopers are here. The Clubman's elongated body stays true to form even in back, where the doors and tail are modeled after 1960s wagons like the Mini Countryman and Traveller. Is it handsome? Some reviewers think so, but LeftLane News feels "the extended length makes the Clubman look somewhat awkward. It's definitely not as attractive as the regular Cooper, but one can get used to it." Motor Trend speaks for most writers when they call MINI's design job "clever. The longer roof appears flat at first glance, yet there's a gentle curve to it." Cars.com notes the Clubman's rear-quarter pillars can be "painted in contrasting black or silver" that "matches the rear bumper and, if desired, the roof." Just a few cues separate the base Clubman from the S, most visibly the subtly domed hood over the S. Jalopnik sees little difference: "at a distance, it's nearly impossible to differentiate between the two variations." MyRide observes that the "base model has a three-bar chrome grille, while the S's is black mesh." The MINI Cooper S Clubman also features a front hood scoop and larger lower air intake, two characteristics it shares with the John Cooper Works Clubman. Clubman MINIs with the John Cooper Works package get minimal changes, too: "a pair of small John Cooper Works badges grace the lower right corners of the front grille and tail-gate," Autoblog points out.

The homage to the MINI's past is less accurate inside the Clubman, where a duplicate of the current Cooper's dash hangs. In some ways, it's just plain wacky. The big, optimistic 160-mph speedometer in the middle of the dash is lifted from old Minis, but it's just plain distracting there, with a sharp glare and lots of embedded displays out of the driver's sight lines. The dash also has lots of small toggle switches, buttons, and levers rendered in chrome, as well as plasticky, flimsy-feeling switchgear. It's chaotic-but it's somehow unified around a circles-and-wings theme that charms away its major ergonomic and quality shortcomings. Jalopnik observes that the MINI Cooper Clubman's interior is "mostly identical to its smaller brother from the cockpit-view forward," including the "rail-protected flight switches [that] control much of the electrics." Edmunds appreciates the Clubman's "stylishly arranged climate and audio controls," while confirming they're "ergonomically unfortunate, however, as these controls will befuddle those used to a more traditional dash layout." ConsumerGuide underscores TheCarConnection.com's concerns by reporting "many audio functions are tough to negotiate due to cryptic markings and the need to drill through multiple menus in order to get to a desired setting." Motor Trend agrees, citing the Clubman's "too small, too slippery, and just poorly designed fan and heat/cool controls." LeftLane News adds, "it's still hard to warm up to the larger speedometer dial of the second-generation interior."

9

2010 MINI Cooper Clubman

Performance

The 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman's stretch job slows it down a notch, but smoothes out the ride and sacrifices none of that elusive go-kart feel.

Sprightly performance carries over nearly intact from the Cooper hatchback into the MINI Clubman wagon. The engines and gearboxes, along with nearly all of the mechanicals, are duplicated here, and even with the added weight the Clubman is a nimble performer. Car and Driver does point out there is "no extra power from either engine to offset [the] added heft" of the MINI Cooper Clubman. LeftLane News says the length and doors "add just over 200 pounds to the weight of the car."

Base Clubman wagons use a 118-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder, paired either to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. TheCarConnection.com strongly recommends the manual to wring out every ounce of driving fun, as this MINI takes 8.9 seconds to hit 60 mph, according to the manufacturer, and tops out at 125 mph. MyRide reports that the "base engine makes 118 horsepower and can move the Clubman from 0 to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds," a number not supported by other reviews or stats. This edition is "completely capable of handling on-ramp merges into 80 mph traffic," LeftLane News asserts, though Motor Trend remarks the added pounds "take a bit of sparkle off the naturally aspirated, 118-horsepower base model's straight-line punch."

With the Clubman S, there's a turbocharged version of the same engine, with 172 hp, a 0-60 mph time of about 7 seconds-"which reduces zero to 60 performance by only three-tenths of a second, from 6.7 seconds in the manual Cooper S hardtop to seven seconds in the manual Cooper S Clubman," LeftLane News points out-and a top speed of 139 mph. This cut-and thrust powerplant is also best savored with the manual; it's a perfect slice-and-dice duo for city streets, though the automatic Clubman S with a sport package gets paddle controls for shifting. The John Cooper Works Clubman has the same turbo engine with different computer controls to "briefly raise boost pressure to achieve 207-pounds-feet when accelerating," Cars.com reports. The MINI John Cooper Works Clubman also puts out 208 hp, which Motor Trend says is enough to power it from "0-to-60 in 5.7 seconds." The John Cooper Works edition engine, Autoblog raves, is "one sweet little powerplant" that "never wants for thrust."

Opinions on the Clubman's transmissions conflict with every review read by TheCarConnection.com, which prefers the MINI six-speed manual to its six-speed automatic. "We might prefer the six-speed manual transmission," LeftLane News comments, "but we found that the automatic gear selection of the six-speed automatic operated perfectly well with either the Clubman or Clubman S." Jalopnik reviewers are particularly impressed with the automatic, declaring that "an intelligent autobox is where the MINI Clubman really earned its stars," offering "quick and properly timed shifts." Car and Driver calls the manual "a delight to use," though "it was a little too easy to select reverse when the intent was first gear."

Clubman fuel economy checks in at 28/36 mpg; the Clubman S registers 26/34 mpg.

Ride and handling are top-notch on middling to smooth roads; there the MINI has controlled motions and is stiff but resilient enough, with very little of the road noise expected from smaller cars. Jalopnik says the "added wheelbase and extra heft provided a very smooth and controlled ride for such a tiny car," while MyRide notices that "the added length helps the Clubman iron out bumps better." ConsumerGuide calls it a "near-ideal blend of everyday practicality and sporting driving fun." According to Car and Driver, "the strut front suspension and multilink rear...all but eliminate body roll, which is why Mini reviewers keep referring to go-kart handling." Motor Trend compares the Clubman with the short-wheelbase Cooper and finds the added length and weight "really smooth out the standard Mini's tendency to hop on bad pavement." LeftLane News remarks "we'd likely trade off a little go-kartness in solitary driving for the ride comfort that the Clubman offers." With Sport models, potholes can feel and sound like mortar fire: "The ride quality that goes with the Sport package and its Dunlop run-flat tires is just this side of unendurable on choppy pavement," Car and Driver states. As for the John Cooper Works version, Autoblog contends its ride quality "is noticeably harsher than lesser models."

Motor Trend also notes the Clubman S's substantial torque steer: "Power out of a corner, and the wheel wiggles in your hand. When the turbo boost kicks in, it wiggles worse." Reviews around the Web have mixed opinions of the steering. Many find it works quite well, but TheCarConnection.com's editors take issue with its too-fast feel, particularly when Sport mode is engaged. With that function activated, the MINI's on-board computer "changes the tip-in on the electronically-controlled throttle and the response on the electrically-assisted steering for both the manual and automatic cars," LeftLane News explains, and "on the automatic, it also raises the shift-point of the automatic transmission." The resulting steering feel "combines surgical precision with knife-fighter responses," Car and Driver attests, but in TheCarConnection.com's opinion, the Sport function speeds up steering response a little too much. Regardless, the MINI's brakes are strong: Jalopnik says its "retro-thruster-like braking prowess" that "brings you to a halt pronto."

7

2010 MINI Cooper Clubman

Comfort & Quality

A few inches of wheelbase gives the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman a far more practical rear seat and cargo area; quality's still an issue.

In the tradition of the Mini Countryman and Traveller, the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman adds some much-needed rear-seat legroom and back-end cargo space, as well as easier access to the backseats.

The Clubman's body is 9.4 inches longer than a Cooper hatchback, and the wheelbase gets 3.2 inches out of that addition, but doesn't disturb the adequate space set aside from front passengers in their nicely pocketed bucket seats. Up front, Kelley Blue Book reports "plenty of room-even for large folk." MyRide adds the "high roofline leaves plenty of head room in the driver's seat," while the pair of front buckets "move back far enough to allow tall guys to fit." In Clubman transition, MINI also cuts a small, right-side, rear-hinged Clubdoor to help access to the backseats; those seats offer more legroom, for sure, and adults will ride there willingly, but access still is difficult despite four times more entry space claimed by MINI. The stretch makes the "second seating row...a viable space to put two adults," according to MyRide. In the back, Edmunds notes that the bench seat "isn't huge, but there's adequate room for two full-size adults." Car and Driver opines bluntly, "the rear seat may be habitable, which can't be said for the standard Mini, but comfort isn't included."

The Clubman also sports more cargo space, with 32.6 cubic feet of room in back when the rear seats are folded down, 9.1 with them still up. The Clubman's tail gets barn-style doors and a flat load floor that can be fitted with a hard cover for security. It's truly more useful, even if you must open the right door before the left. MyRide confirms "cargo volume is 32.8 cubic feet versus 24.0 cubic feet for the regular MINI," enough for ConsumerGuide to call the Clubman "a surprisingly versatile hauler." Cargo space is boosted inside the passenger cabin as well, as Jalopnik notes that the MINI Cooper Clubman's "dual glove boxes and plenty of cup holders [offer] enough storage space for anything you might need to carry."

While the MINI's road noise is fairly subdued, all MINIs tested by TheCarConnection.com have had creaky bodies with squeaks and rattles coming from various plastic trim pieces; the MINI's cabin oozes with design flair, but material and build quality just don't live up to its price tag. LeftLane News picks on the "bland gray plastic surfaces of the audio and HVAC controls," which it compares to "something off a toy karaoke machine." Jalopnik points out some "Toys R' Us-grade plastic...in this price range, a buyer deserves a little better." MyRide says the opposite: "though there are many plastics, they have a quality look and feel." ConsumerGuide praises the "solid workmanship," while Jalopnik coos that "every compartment, toggle and switch functions with the usual high level of BMW confidence."

While the smaller Cooper is prone to significant wind noise, ConsumerGuide reports that "wind noise was fairly low" during their time with the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman. And in TheCarConnection.com's experience, the MINI Cooper vehicles exhibit creaks and groans early in their life cycles, and plastic pieces tend to develop squeaks absent in other hatchbacks until late in their careers.

8

2010 MINI Cooper Clubman

Safety

No official crash-test scores are in, but the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman appears to be a safe small-car choice.

Safety gear is up to par in the 2010 MINI Clubman. It gets six airbags as standard equipment, along with anti-lock brakes and stability control, and a hill-start feature that holds the vehicle in place when starting uphill. Traction control is an option. MyRide explains that the curtain side airbags "cover both seating rows" and points out the standard "tire-pressure monitor." Kelley Blue Book also notes that the Clubman's anti-lock brakes are augmented "with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist."

The MINI Cooper Clubman hasn't been crash-tested, but the similar MINI Cooper gets mostly four-star ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) rates the similar MINI Cooper hatchback as "good" for front impacts and "acceptable" for side impacts.

Autoblog reviewers appreciate the capabilities of the stability control, proclaiming that the "MINI's slip control system worked great" during their test drive and "managed the speed of the individual wheels quietly without jerking the steering wheel around or even the car." Kelley Blue Book also reports that "Hill Start Assist is standard with manual transmission" versions of the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman lineup.

The 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman has some issues with its design and the effect of outward visibility. MyRide reports "the line where the rear doors comes together is a bit of a distraction in the rearview mirror," while Car and Driver says that the "silly split rear doors block [the] rearview," and notes, "Doors like these have disappeared from everything but big vans for a reason."

9

2010 MINI Cooper Clubman

Features

You can tailor a 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman to suit your own taste, but keep a calculator and a tight rein in hand.

The MINI brand is built around customization, so while the 2010 Cooper Clubman's list of standard features isn't comprehensive, there's an entire world of accessories, paint and trim options, and other add-ons available to MINI owners.

All Clubmans come with vinyl upholstery, air conditioning, a trip computer, ambient lighting, and an AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary jack. The Clubman's power locks are built into a round starter that takes the place of a metal key. The three trims of the MINI Cooper Clubman feature largely the same set of standard amenities. MyRide reports that "standard equipment on the base Clubman includes leatherette upholstery, air conditioning, interior air filter...trip computer [and] AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack." Cars.com adds that "power windows and locks," as well as "keyless entry with push-button start" are all standard, along with the "faux leather upholstery."

From there, the Clubman's a palette for the owner's tastes; checked cloth or pinstripe or leather upholstery can be ordered, along with painted wheels, roof decals of the U.S. or British flags, white-capped mirrors, chrome trim galore, and color panels for the dash and door panels are just the beginning. They're what Cars.com calls a "litany of cosmetic accessories." Edmunds reports that the MINI Cooper Clubman "offers a broad range of packages and options" and notes that "even the various color schemes can be mixed and matched" for a truly personalized flavor for your MINI Clubman. Performance add-ons include 16-, 17-, and 18-inch wheels, as well as the range of John Cooper Works underhood tweaks.

A sunroof, roof racks, a rear roof spoiler, Bluetooth, a USB/iPod adapter, and a navigation system with real-time traffic and LCD readouts displayed in the speedometer are the major options. Kelley Blue Book highlights the availability of such niceties as "HD Radio, a Bluetooth cell phone link...xenon headlights [and] SIRIUS Satellite Radio." The Bluetooth option includes a USB port for hooking up with mobile devices like the iPhone or other cell phones and media players, making the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman one of the more technologically advanced compact cars available. The MINI's chaotic set of controls really can lose an unfamiliar driver when the navigation system needs a new address; its joystick control isn't all that intuitive, and the readout's not as large or comprehensive as that on better systems.

As is the case with the Cooper, be well advised when laying out your Clubman's features. MINI encourages customers to make the Clubman their own, and "the majority of all MINI buyers do exactly that," LeftLaneNews reports. Ordering just a few of these options can send the price tag into maxi territory, and MINI customers have become notorious for turning sub-$20,000 hatchbacks and wagons into highly individualized statements with sticker prices nearing $40,000.

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January 4, 2017
2010 MINI Cooper Clubman 2-Door Coupe

Fun Fun Fun to drive small car with suprisingly big interior.

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My wife and I bought this car for different reasons and we were both right! She likes the great fuel mileage and the quirky appearance and enjoys answering questions about it which seem to be inevitable... + More »
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Styling 9.0
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