If You Love to Drive and Love a Clever Car, Keep Reading.
I love clever. Clever intrigues me, delights me, makes me happy. And clever was what hit me the first moment I clicked the key fob to open the driver’s door: the Mini Clubman flashed its logo on the ground outside the driver’s side door, what Mini calls a ‘puddle light.’ Soon I was inside, exploring this cleverly designed fun to drive car that would set up what would be a fun week ahead.
Who the Mini Clubman is For
- Singles, couples or smaller families
- Drivers who regularly have passengers in the back seat
- Drivers who love the feel of the two-door Mini Cooper but need four-door passenger and cargo space
- Buyers who want (or need) a distinguished, unique look in their car
- Drivers who need ample, flexible cargo space
- Drivers who love a sporty, zippy drive experience
- Drivers who need all wheel drive
- Buyers who love the nostalgic, European feel of Mini Cooper cars
What it Costs
- Starting price: $24,100
- The model we drove: $35,850
- Tops out at: About $40,350
To put you in the right frame of mind for driving the Mini Clubman, you can hear our perfect playlist here.
The Clubman is larger, but still Mini
The Mini Clubman takes all that is Mini—a smaller car that is close to the ground, agile and fun to drive, and is reconsidered inside and out — and takes it up a notch for buyers who can’t live their lives in a small car. The result is a car perfect for families or drivers who need more cargo space than the two-door or smaller four-door Mini models. The cabin offers plenty of head room due to the square proportions of the roofline, and the rear cargo space is ample with some smart storage details such as a storage bin under the cargo floor that was great for stowing tote bags, shopping bags and other items I wanted to keep out of sight.
The Clubman’s larger size puts it more in the league of other sedans; I found that it’s about the same to drive and park as a traditional or compact sedan, taking up about the same space on the road or in a parking lot.
The Clubman does keep the low-slung scale of Mini, though; it has a wide stance and sits close to the ground (about half an inch lower than the average sedan); this low stance lowers your eye level when seated in the car, making it hard to see certain things. During our test drive we were looking for a business address and found it hard to see since it was posted above the two-story front door. Also, I found myself staring right into the headlights and undercarriages of trucks and SUVs.
The smaller scale of the Clubman also created blindspots that took some getting used to, including the frame of the rear doors that can make it hard to see what is behind you. I was grateful for the rear view camera, though blind spot monitors, which are not available on the Mini Clubman, would have been helpful, too.
Three drive modes increase fuel savings or pump up the fun factor
Don’t you love a car that can be all things to all drivers? I do. And clearly, so does Mini Cooper. Pop the Clubman into sport mode for a more fun and responsive drive experience, or put it in green for fuel savings. I could feel the performance difference between the modes; green, as expected, was a little more cautious when starting off from a traffic light, while Sport was a little more anxious and for drivers who love this, the Clubman is available in a 6 speed manual—one of the few four door cars available this way! Then, for those times when you don’t want or need sport or green mode, there’s Mid mode for a comfortable, confident ride.
Rolling with the Mini Logo: A driver’s car with a well-designed, unique interior
One of the first things you notice about the Mini Clubman, from the outside or when holding the key fob, is all the ‘wheels.’ The car’s entire design takes a cue from the round, winged Mini badge, from the steering wheel’s clusters of controls to the information cluster to the infotainment screen, the gear shift collar ( which clicks to the left and right for sport, mid and green modes), the climate controls and more; even in the inside door latches are round; the Mini icon is replicated everywhere.
Split rear doors make for super easy accessibility
One of the design details that I liked the most are the rear ‘barn doors’ as my friend Reed, a former Mini owner, called them. The doors—yes there are two— open outward like a double sided refrigerator, rather than a single gate that lifts up. I really liked this because it made getting things in and out of the cargo area easier; I didn’t have to duck under the lift gate or try to stretch over a clamshell gate (in which the lower half of the gate flips down, the upper part lifts up). I also liked that I could open just one door—convenient for loading in one or two things, or open the entire hatch if I needed to. Also, the doors open fully so you can use the full width of the cargo area opening for wide objects.
Pretty nice value for the price
The Mini Clubman is nicely priced, starting at $24,100 for the base model. The Mini Cooper S Clubman All4 we drove, which included the Tech package (rear view camera, park distance control and navigation) was priced at $35,850, but did not have a panoramic sunroof (an extra $4,500, but comes with an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, too) and some active safety systems such as blind spot monitors, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, which are not available.
Yikes — I got a flat tire!
And I hate that. I asked my friends who own or have owned Mini Coopers if this a regular occurrence. Some said yes, others said no. Some advice I got is that the car’s shape, closeness to the ground and tires set close to the bumpers means that you have to be really vigilant to keep them away from potholes, or in my case, a storm drain, that will damage a tire.
Flat tire—the good news
Luckily there was good news. First, with run flat tires I could drive home with a flat. It was dark and raining, but a quick inspection of the tire with my iPhone flashlight revealed not only the gash in the tire, but the words ‘Run Flat’ on the side of the tire. Phew, I could drive home.
The Mini Cooper Clubman handled admirably with a flat tire; while I could feel the front right end was lower than the rest of the car, and it pulled slightly to the right, the car drove just fine; we were not in any danger (though I did drive slowly and cautiously).
The second good news moment about this flat tire is Mini’s roadside assistance package (complimentary, along with maintenance for the first three years): All I had to do was call and a tow truck was dispatched to take the car to the dealer for tire replacement (the price of new tire was not included in roadside assistance, however).
My week in the Mini Cooper Clubman was a fun one; I cranked up the sound system and felt what a great car should give you: A bit of a thrill and some fun getting to and from the routine chores of your daily life.
What We Loved
- Fun, sporty drive experience
- Leather heated front seats
- Logo “puddle” light
- Clever, fun, easy to use infotainment system
- Rear view camera
- Split rear doors
- Cargo area with built in storage bin
- Digital Blue Metallic color of the model we drove
- Plenty of rear leg and head room
- Easy to fold rear seats
- Run flat tires
- Fun and clever infotainment system
- Green driving mode that improved our MPG
What You Need to Know
- Low ground clearance —4.9 inches, about a half inch lower the the typical sedan
- Fuel economy: 22 city, 31 highway; we averaged about 24 MPG and did better when driving in green mode
- Takes regular fuel
- Three years scheduled maintenance included
- Four years road side assistance included
- Four year/50,000 mile warranty
The best English bands to listen to in the Mini Cooper Clubman:
Disclosure: Mini Cooper provided the Clubman for my review; opinions, playlist suggestions and thoughts expressed here are all my own.