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STYLING | 9 out of 10
Cuteness, with attitude
Car and Driver
Same avant-garde interior as the MINI Cooper
Preserves much of the styling moxie possessed by the original
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."
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.