In 2014, the third-generation BMW-built Mini Cooper came along looking large next to its recent predecessors, never mind the original Mini of the late 1950s. The Clubman wagon and Countryman SUV followed the Cooper, which gave Mini two more spacious vehicles with which to stock their showrooms.
The obvious irony is that the Clubman is not exactly mini. A friend who hitched a ride in our tester’s back seat exclaimed, “This Mini is huge!” when she got in. Huge for a Mini, sure, but like many small crossovers, it’s tough to fathom how a car that takes up so little space can weigh 1,544 kg. This one did with its standard AWD and the optional (and heavier) automatic transmission. For context, that’s 320 kg heavier than the Mini Cooper three-door hatchback. It is as hefty as a posh version of the Honda Accord full-size sedan.
Contrary to our friend’s assessment, the Clubman is not huge. Rather, there’s useful room for four and good cargo space behind the rear seat in a cabin as spacious as a subcompact crossover’s. From the driver’s seat, quirks include climate controls mounted too low on the dash and a rear view compromised by the two side-hinged cargo doors.
All entry-level Mini models use a 1.5L, turbo three-cylinder engine whose performance is underwhelming when saddled with this car’s mass. It’s fine for moving the car from a stop, but once at speed there’s not much in reserve for highway passing. The Cooper S Clubman’s 2.0L turbo engine is a big step up, and one we think is worth making.
- Sound: We are fine with the three-cylinder’s odd exhaust sound in spirited driving. However we were less impressed with how badly it vibrates at idle before it warms up in winter weather.
- Fuel consumption: Mini estimates the Clubman’s fuel consumption at 10.2/7.6 L/100 km (city/highway) with the automatic transmission. In winter driving, our test car averaged about 12.0 L/100 km.
- Fun to toss around: One benefit of a car that handles as well as the Clubman is that you barely have to slow down for corners. Assuming you have a clear road with no traffic. With the transmission set to sport mode to extract as much performance as possible from the engine, the Clubman is fun to toss around in city driving.
Pricing and Options
The Mini Cooper Clubman’s price starts at $28,690. At that point, the most notable omission from the car’s standard features are heated front seats. You can add them for $1,300 as part of the Classic option package (which also adds a sunroof and fog lights). For a more luxurious experience go with the $5,850 Premier+ package. That adds niceties like navigation, wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay compatibility (there’s no Android option here) and LED headlights that follow the steering. A mid-range Premier option group gets passive keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control and power-adjustable front seats. Conspicuous by its absence in our $41,430 test car was a heated steering wheel. This feature has become common even in more affordable cars.
For about $10,000 less than our Mini’s as-tested price, small crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai and Ford EcoSport come with similar features. This includes a heated steering wheel and similar performance. Count the Honda HR-V in that cohort too, though it lacks a heated wheel. If we were looking for modest, competent performance, any of those vehicles would be an affordable means to that end.
How We Would Option the Car
The Clubman stands out for its style and class-above handling. However, for this car’s premium price, we want more of everything, including straight-line performance. To get that, we’d happily forgo a few of our test car’s luxury items to cover the $3,000 jump to the Clubman S. The Clubman S’s more potent engine is better at living up to the Mini brand’s upscale aspirations.
2019 Mini Cooper Clubman
- Vehicle category: Subcompact hatchback
- Engine: 1.5L three-cylinder, turbocharged; 134 hp, 162 lb-ft torque
- Transmission: 6-speed manual (standard)/8-speed automatic (optional)
- Notable standard features (base model; MSRP: $28,690): 16-inch alloy wheels, six-way manual front seat adjustments, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth
- Notable optional features (as tested; MSRP: $41,430): Panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and power-adjustable seats, leatherette upholstery, LED headlights and fog lights, 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, automatic transmission.
- Fuel economy, ratings (l/100km, city/highway): 10.2/7.6
- Fuel economy, observed (l/100km): 12.0