MINI has owned up to getting it wrong with the previous Clubman. A curious layout had two and a half passenger doors that forced too many big compromises. This version has been enlarged to compete as a more mainstream family car, with four doors for passengers and a larger boot, while maintaining the unique Clubman twin side-hinged doors at the tail.
Did you know? The original 1969 Clubman was simply a front-end restyle of the earlier Mini, marketed as a more upmarket product
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Moving more into the mainstream has boosted the MINI Clubman’s appeal massively. It was a bit of an oddball, but now it serves as a legitimate and logical next step up from a five-door MINI Hatchback. Don’t imagine it’s big, though – it’s still more cramped than some more conventional rivals, like the Audi A3 Sportback or VW Golf, and it has lost some of the Mini hatch cuteness in the lengthening process. It’s more functional, certainly, and has charming petrol engines, but you still need to be a MINI fan to justify its price.
Design & Exterior
Interior & Comfort
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Running Costs & Fuel Economy
Extra boot space
Four large passenger doors
We Don’t Like
Poor rear visibility
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Design & Exterior: (8/10)
The Clubman’s designers have pulled off a cunning trick with this model. Whilst it might look like a long car, it’s actually 5mm shorter than a Volkswagen Golf. This optical illusion comes courtesy of a gently sloping roof and a rising shoulder line. It creates a vanishing-point effect that makes the car appear longer than its more typical proportions. This MINI is also wider giving it a more purposeful stance than its predecessor.
Looking squarely at the front of this car you could easily mistake it for the hatchback. It has the same big characterful eyes and wide grille with chromed accents on Cooper models. Two-tone colour combinations and bonnet stripes allow you to make your MINI different from the neighbour’s.
The rear is dominated by those signature barn doors, each now fitted with a large horizontal light. Neat badging garnishes the rear to help give it a grown-up look.
The overall design still splits opinion, but so it should. This car’s USP is how it stands out from the crowd.
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Interior & Comfort: (7/10)
The interior is a fundamentally stylish place to be and is unmistakable in its design. A large round head to the console harks back to Mini’s of old and the aircraft-inspired toggle switches have been a staple since the year 2000. Material quality is high as MINI continues its push upmarket. Tick the right boxes and variable ambient lighting floods the cabin giving it a trendy wine bar vibe.
Just like the hatchback, the front seats are supportive, but option the popular Chili Pack and you get a set of well bolstered half-leather heated sports seats, among other extras.
The Clubman is longer and wider than the car it replaces, and that can only be a good thing for interior space. Proper rear doors grant easy access to the back where two adults can be seated quite happily. However, the middle seat is narrow and only big enough for small children.
There are positives and negatives associated with the twin boot doors. On the one hand, they are unique to the Clubman and are arguably the design statement that defines it. They’re also handy if you just want to throw your bag in the boot. Quickly open just one door and be done with it.
But on the other hand, reverse-parking into bay spaces often makes it impossible to open the doors at all, and even if there’s enough room behind the car to open them, there usually isn’t enough space to bring trolleys around because the doors are blocking its path.
Either way, it’s 360-litres of boot space is more than a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra can muster. However, a MK7 Volkswagen Golf trumps it with 380-litres.
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Technology & Connectivity: (8/10)
The Clubman is the first MINI to employ an eight-speed automatic gearbox borrowed from parent company BMW. The chassis is now big enough to accommodate it, and it’s a wonderfully refined unit. It’s only available on Cooper D, Cooper S and Cooper SD models. Also new to the Clubman range are an electronic parking brake, full electric seat adjustment and trendy coloured interior ambient lighting.
All models get standard satellite navigation within the circular Mini console feature, which is very welcome. Lower grades have a 6.5in screen while more expensive versions have an excellent 8.8in upgrade. There’s Bluetooth connectivity to go with the screen, plus the awfully-named MINI Excitement Pack, which just includes basic interior ambient lighting and a downward projection of the MINI logo onto the ground when getting in and out of the car.
Many buyers add the Chili Pack, which adds tech like heated front seats, parking sensors, climate control and LED headlights. It turns the spec list into a much more impressive thing in one fell swoop, but it’s not a cheap addition at lb2,785.
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Performance & Handling: (7/10)
Unlike the MINI Hatchback, which has its own turbocharged 1.2-litre powerplant, the One Clubman uses a detuned version of the Cooper Clubman’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder. All the engines in the range are tuned to give a disproportionately large amount of torque in the first quarter of the accelerator pedal travel, so they all feel immediately willing and lively, and none feel particularly weak.
It’s a noticeable step up in performance between One and Cooper models, and from Cooper to Cooper S. The same goes for the diesel versions, which offer up to 188bhp at the top of the range. The pick of the bunch from either fuel is at Cooper level, where there’s plenty of power without costing too much. The three-cylinder petrol Cooper Clubman has bags of charm, too.
The 2.0-litre Cooper D with 148bhp sounds gruff under acceleration, but does begin to settle down once up to speed. It’s got a nice torquey pull to it which makes it great for strong overtaking maneuverers on the motorway. There isn’t much point letting this engine rev as it’s done the best of its work below 4,000rpm.
Handling and comfort
The Clubman feels like a Mini should, with a keen change of direction and plenty of grip thanks to its wide footprint. There isn’t much body roll, either, meaning that you can really lean on the Clubman through fast bends. Its steering isn’t brimming with feel, but select Sport Mode and the added weight makes it nice and precise. However, the added weight on the nose of diesel models is noticeable and somewhat blunts its agility.
The trade-off for a sporty chassis is that the ride is firmer than some rivals, especially if you go for a model with larger alloy wheels. It’s far from backbreaking, but a Volkswagen Golf is a more rounded package. One way to remedy this is Variable Damper Control that lets you soften the suspension. At lb450 it’s well worth optioning.
There’s also a fair amount of road noise that enters the cabin, undoing some of the Clubman’s refinement.
Recommended engine: Cooper 1.5 136 manual
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Safety Features: (6/10)
Six airbags is a general industry standard but in this class several rivals offer a knee airbag as well. A curious oversight means that not all EU markets have a passenger-side airbag off-switch, which is one of the reasons why the Clubman only scores four stars in Euro NCAP testing instead of the five clocked up by most of the rest of the class. Adult occupants shouldn’t worry about their own safety, though – the Clubman scores well for that.
Stability, traction control, and emergency city braking systems are standard, including software to measure feedback from the tyres and shift braking force to the wheels with more grip during emergency stops. An irritating feature is the central ‘pillar’ of the two rear doors, which hampers rear visibility a bit too much.
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Specs and Trim Levels: (8/10)
Naturally, this is a MINI, so there’s no shortage of colour options. Just like the smaller hatchbacks, Moonwalk Grey metallic is the standard colour, with four optional flat colours and a further seven metallics available for lb515 each. Pepper White is an off-white solid option that looks permanently grubby and is best avoided.
Chili Red, another solid, can only be added if you also add the John Cooper Works Chili pack and run-flat tyres for a total extra bill of over lb4600. Volcanic Orange and Lapisluxury Blue round out the flat shades.
The no-strings metallics are Midnight Black, British Racing Green, Deep Blue, Blazing Red, the classy Pure Burgundy, Digital Blue and Melting Silver. It’s a fantastic range of attractive colours with a few more muted options for people who want to keep things sober.
There isn’t as great a difference in raw spec between Cooper and Cooper S models as you might think. There are bigger wheels and sportier suspension, sure, but the actual spec upgrades come down to how much a buyer is willing to spend on options. The more compliant Cooper and Cooper D models have plenty of poke and their cheaper list prices leave more room to add option packs.
The range starts with the One Clubman and One D, which have some important trim highlights like satellite navigation and air conditioning that are shared by the models above them. The Cooper Clubman and Cooper D Clubman bring more power, then it’s the same thing when upgrading to the Cooper S and Cooper SD Clubman, although the Cooper S Clubman has an option to add four-wheel drive.
Out on its own is the John Cooper Works Clubman, which is a performance-focused halo model with special trim, more standard equipment and the sportiest drive, although it’s not much fun compared to direct rivals that are often cheaper.
Size and Dimensions
It looks a lot longer than it is, partly because the roof line is unusually low for the class. It’s actually not so long at all. That means it certainly won’t violate any height or length restrictions any time soon, although the body is marginally wider than most. Fortunately the stubby mirrors overlap the bodywork a lot and don’t add much to the overall measurement. In fact, including mirrors, it’s narrower than many rivals.
1800 mm (1932 mm)
Max towing weight without brake
From 680kg (1.5 petrol) to 750kg (all 2.0-litre ALL4 models)
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Running Costs & Fuel Economy: (7/10)
MINI’s engines are capable of vastly efficient driving if they are handled in the necessary way. Building speed briskly and then cruising at a set speed with minimal throttle inputs and lifting off as early as possible ahead of roundabouts and junctions is the best method to get near the official figures. The thirsty Cooper S ALL4 and John Cooper Works models aside, 45mpg is the minimum official figure in the range.
Turbocharged engines are highly sensitive to driving style, so harder acceleration and rough, frequent changes in speed will hurt the Clubman’s fuel economy badly. With careful control, 40-50mpg should be achievable in a mix of driving in the petrols, but the MINI’s fun engines don’t exactly encourage outright sensibility.
The diesels are much more capable when it comes to fuel economy. The One D’s official figure is 74.3mpg, aided by small wheels and high-profile tyres. You’re not likely to get anywhere near that on average, but figures in the 60s are achievable. The Cooper D is about 10 percent less efficient, with the SD another 10 percent back.
Reliability and Servicing
MINI’s reliability record as a brand is quite poor. For reliability the hatchback, the only model to feature in the 2016 Driver Power survey, placed fourth from bottom of the 150 models that received enough responses to qualify.
12 months or 10,000-15,000 miles
24 months or 20,000-30,000 miles
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At about lb21.5k for a Clubman One D the pricing structure is eye-opening. Add the Chili pack, alloy wheel upgrades and a different metallic paint and that price soars way over lb25,000, which is expensive even when you consider the excellent residual values. A petrol Cooper is roughly lb1,300 cheaper than a One D when specified the same way, but a Cooper D with the same popular options hovers around lb26,500.
As for the desirable SD, common packs and extras can see it nudge lb30,000, but at least at this level buyers tend to be less budget-conscious. It’s hard not to see the Clubman as an extremely expensive small family car, but its styling will make it irresistible to some people regardless.
If PCP is right for you, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at trim levels. A healthy lb3k deposit can get you into a petrol Cooper from about lb250 a month, however, the most basic Clubman One costs lb270. How does that work? It simply comes down to the higher spec car having a better residual value after three years, so it’s a no brainer to go for the more powerful car if you’re leasing or buying on finance.
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John Cooper Works – the fastest and most exclusive Clubman gives hot hatchback pace
Company Car Buyer
Cooper D – powerful engine, high fuel economy and upmarket looks make an excellent company car
One – the cheapest Clubman brings with it a very flexible engine and space to upgrade
Superb all-rounder with high interior quality, low starting prices and enviable everyday usability
BMW 1 Series
The more fun alternative thanks to rear-wheel drive and powerful engines, but can get expensive
Sporty styling is a hit with buyers, and there are excellent turbocharged engines to choose
Much cheaper, but nowhere near as premium
The clear choice for reliability and dealer backup also has a highly refined hybrid option for increased urban efficiency