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STYLING | 9 out of 10
No last-minute stretch job
An odd mix of taffy-stretched MINI Cooper and retro-pretentious bread van
Reviewers from around the Web generally approved of the stretched 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman, since it keeps most of the original MINI charm intact.
This long-roofed 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman is roomier than the iconic Cooper hatchback, but maintains the personality of the original. Its distinguishing features include the added passenger-side, rear-hinged Clubdoor, and extra room in the backseat.
“The Clubman is almost all-Cooper,” Road & Track writes. “A-pillar forward is all the same, but the roof, sides, rear doors and stretched floorpan are unique.” And yet, Automobile feels with the Clubman Cooper, MINI designers "had a lot of fun with this project" and the new styling is more than a "last-minute stretch job."
The 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman depends on details like contrasting roof color to link it to the smaller car. The new details emphasize its add-ons, such as the matching U-shaped border around the rear clamshell cargo doors. Those doors are different than the cargo door on the standard Cooper MINI, which is simply an upward-swinging, one-piece affair. Reviewers also approved of the unique rear door design, and Popular Mechanics writes that "the MINI has to be non-conformist whenever it can."
The other major addition to the Clubman is the presence of a third side door, this one on the passenger side of the car. The rear-swinging Clubdoor allows for easy access into the Clubman's more spacious rear seating area. When shut, the door blends nearly seamlessly into the passenger side. The one complaint that appears frequently with the new door is its positioning; while most cars have third doors on the driver's side, ConsumerGuide points out that "the Clubman's is on the passenger side of the car, which seems somewhat illogical," though this doesn't detract from the Clubman's "unquestionable cuteness."
Inside the new Cooper S Clubman, the driver and front passenger will not notice anything differentiating the panel and dashboard in front of them from that of the standard Cooper. MINI left the back fairly intact, making few styling changes. Perhaps the biggest change is the new trim. “My favorite bit of detailing has to be the trim that wraps all the way around the cabin, flowing into the rear bench seat just as on the Rolls Royce Phantom,” Automobile raves. It "adds a sense of occasion which is desperately lacking in the back of most small cars."
TheCarConnection.com’s team of car experts likes the iconoclastic Clubman. There are more cutlines on the body, which means the stretch Cooper MINI looks better in darker colors—but it’s instantly recognizable from the side. From the front and from the driver seat, you may as well be driving a MINI Cooper of the standard size—the charm is carried over intact.
With the 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman, sex appeal hasn’t been ditched for practicality.