Shopping for a new MINI Cooper Clubman?
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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
hard ride on pockmarked roads
Kelley Blue Book
everyday practicality and sporty driving fun
No extra power from either engine to offset added heft
Car and Driver
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."
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.