by Gerhard Horn
The Mini Cooper Clubman fills the gap between the Mini Hardtop and the Mini Countryman. It's aimed at buyers who want the added passenger and cargo space, but without having to buy an SUV. The Clubman competes with a variety of similar models, depending on how much you want to spend and how many options you add to it. Base models compete with the Subaru Impreza in size, while top-end models with a few optional extras elevate the Mini into Volvo V60 pricing territory. While aimed at customers in search of more room, keep in mind that it's still a Mini, which means it's nowhere near as practical as its main rivals.
It's powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder, packing a 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque punch. Front-wheel drive is standard, but Mini's ALL4 four-wheel drivetrain adds an additional advantage above some of its competitors. Starting prices are on the high side, and the four-pot can be thirsty when pushing on.
The Mini Clubman was updated in 2020, and these updates will be carried through to 2021. For 2021, Mini is adding one minor update and one major update. The Signature Trim will now include the 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard, including the Digital Instrument Cluster, Mini Navigation, Apple CarPlay, Remote Services, and Advanced Real-Time Traffic Information.
The major update is the return of the manual gearbox on certain models. A Getrag six-speed manual will be available on the Cooper S Clubman with front-wheel drive. It comes as standard on the Cooper S Clubman Classic Trim and is optional on Signature Trim and Iconic Trim.
The Cooper S Clubman's price has also been dropped by $1,000.
There are no changes between the 2020 and 2021 Mini Cooper Clubman in the USA. At the front, it's classic Mini, with the side profile revealing its station wagon design. It retains the mesh grille at the front, and buyers have the option of choosing between the standard Chrome trim, or the optional Piano Black. LED headlights and taillights are standard higher up in the range. Classic and Signature trim models are equipped with 17-inch alloys, while the top-spec Iconic is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Cooper Clubman may be marketed as a longer version of the Mini Cooper, but it's still very much a compact wagon. The 105.1-inch wheelbase is only four inches longer than the four-door hardtop. The body is 168.3 inches in length. To put that into perspective, the much cheaper Subaru Impreza five-door's body is 176.2 inches long. The 70.9-inch width (excluding mirrors) makes it easy to park, but larger passengers might not like the tight head and shoulder room. On the plus side, the Mini Cooper Clubman is only 56.7 inches tall and weighs between 3,333 and 3,534 pounds. In this case, space has been sacrificed in order to make the Mini Cooper Clubman station wagon as sporty as possible.
Mini offers a selection of nine colors for the Cooper Clubman. Both Emerald Grey Metallic and Melting Silver Metallic have been dropped. The Melting Silver Roof and mirror caps are still available, however. The base Classic trim only offers Moonwalk Grey as a no-cost option. The optional Midnight Black, Pepper White, and Chili Red cost $500. The Classic trim is only offered with body-color roof and side mirrors. The Signature and Iconic trims offer Thunder Grey, Midnight Black, White Silver, Coral Red Metallic, Moonlight Grey, Starlight Blue, British Racing Green Metallic, Pepper White, and Chili Red as a no-cost option. The roof and mirrors can also be had with a body-color, black, white, or silver roof with matching side mirror caps at no extra cost. The Iconic trim comes with its own model-specific color called Mini Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic, at no extra cost.
As mentioned earlier, the Mini Cooper Clubman is a car focusing more on sportiness than space. Since Mini dropped the turbocharged triples from the line-up, the Cooper S Clubman is powered exclusively by a turbocharged four-cylinder. Three transmissions are available, depending on the model you choose. Front-wheel-drive models can be equipped with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The six-speed manual is standard on the base Classic trim, with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission costing $1,500 extra. The Signature trim allows you to choose between manual and dual-clutch, with no price difference between the two models. Mini's ALL4 all-wheel-drive models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
With only the front wheels doing the work, the Cooper S Clubman can sprint from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds. The added weight of the all-wheel-drive system should make the ALL4 model slower, but the added traction off the line means it can sprint to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The top speed for the front-wheel-drive model is 142 mph, while the ALL4 is slightly slower with a 140 mph top end. If you want more performance, you'll have to look towards the expensive JCW derivative, reviewed separately.
Every model in the Mini Cooper Clubman range is powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, delivering 189 hp and 207 lb-ft. While most manufacturers are slowly phasing out manual transmissions, Mini is bringing it back. The six-speed manual is the new default gearbox in the base front-wheel-drive Classic, with the seven-speed dual-clutch demanding a $1,500 premium. The Signature trim allows you to choose between dual-clutch and manual at no extra cost. ALL4 models soldier on with the silky-smooth eight-speed automatic.
The front-wheel-drive Cooper Clubman S weighs around 340 pounds more than the heaviest four-door hardtop, so there was always going to be a noticeable difference in performance. Having said that, it's not a big gap. The available power is more than adequate to provide a fun driving experience. The addition of the new manual gearbox will delight driving enthusiasts. While the dual-clutch and automatic transmission will likely shift faster, they can't match the engagement a traditional manual gearbox offers.
More than anything, a new Mini is always judged by the driving experience it offers. It's as much a part of the Mini DNA as the round headlights.
The Clubman offers a fun driving experience. Granted, it's not as much fun as its smaller siblings, but it still has enough power to overcome the added weight. In a straight line race to 60 mph, there's around half a second between the Clubman and the two-door hardtop.
Most of its rivals are geared towards comfort rather than fun, and you can tell from the moment you start driving it. It's quick off the line, and the steering is responsive. Unfortunately, there is a downside to all this fun. The Clubman's suspension is quite firm, which has a negative effect on ride quality. This problem is remedied higher up in the range. Both Signature and Iconic models are equipped with Dynamic Damper Control, which allows the driver to choose between a comfortable damper setting for day-to-day use, or a firmer setup for when the mood for enthusiastic driving strikes.
The new six-speed manual adds another dimension to the driving experience. Rather than letting the car decide when to change gear, or toggling the flaps behind the steering wheel, the driver now gets to engage with three pedals and a traditional shifter. It might be slower than the two self-shifting options, but a manual gearbox fits in perfectly with the Mini ethos of fun above all else.
The Mini Cooper Clubman S only has a 13.2-gallon fuel tank. Couple that with sub-par gas mileage, and you only get a relatively short range of 382 miles between refills. The front-wheel-drive Cooper S Clubman with a dual-clutch transmission has an EPA rating of 25/35/29 mpg city/highway/combined. The ALL4's rating is pegged at 23/32/26, while the new manual is rated at 22/32/26. That makes the seven-speed dual-clutch the most efficient gearbox available.
A similarly-sized hatchback like Honda's Civic returns an mpg rating of 29/35/32.
The Cooper Clubman's interior goes a long way towards justifying the seemingly large sticker price. The materials are of high quality, and there are loads of design elements that hark back to the classic Mini designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. The 6.5-inch touchscreen display, now offered as standard on all but the entry-level Classic, also goes a long way towards creating a luxurious ambiance. The seats offer enough support given the sporting potential, and all of the major controls are easy to reach. In addition to the trunk, the Cooper Clubman also has a wide variety of storage spaces splattered around the cabin.
Here's where the Clubman's longer wheelbase and body really start to make sense. The Cooper Clubman is a joy in the front, offering sport seats up front with support in all the right places. On the Classic model, seat adjustment is done manually, while the higher trim levels offer eight-way power seats with a memory function. The higher trim levels also get 40/20/40 folding rear seats, while the base model features a 60/40 split. Space in the rear is perfectly fine for two average adults or three smaller passengers. All-round visibility is good, and the 4-door configuration makes it easy to get in and out of the Clubman.
The Mini Cooper S Clubman in Classic trim is a drab place. The only seat trim option is Carbon Black Leatherette, while the only interior trim options are Hazy Grey and Checkered Dash.
Moving up to Signature trim offers a wider variety of customization options. Opting for the Signature Upholstery Package ($1,000) allows one to choose between four leather seat options, including Carbon Black, Indigo Blue, Malt Brown, and Satellite Grey. The Mini Your Lounge Leather in Carbon Black is an additional $500. A sport steering wheel, as well as the choice between Illuminated Piano Black, Frozen Blue Illuminated, and Fiber Alloy Illuminated interior surface trims also form part of the Signature Upholstery Package.
The Clubman was built to add a decent helping of practicality to a brand that was never really associated with the concept of space. It definitely works, but only to a certain extent. The Clubman is still extremely limited by what it can carry with the rear seats folded up. As standard, the trunk offers 17.5 cubic feet of space. It's a sufficient amount of space for the school run or a week's worth of supplies, but that's about it. On high-end models you can fold the seats flat, resulting in 47.9 cubic feet of space. It should suffice on those odd occasions you need to move something slightly bigger than normal. To put the Clubman's trunk size into perspective, the Honda Civic offers 25.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats in place.
As mentioned before, the Clubman does have a large number of storage spaces in the cabin. There are cupholders aplenty, large door pockets, and a sturdy and spacious center cubby.
There's enough comfort to keep most people happy, even in the base Classic sub-trim. The leatherette seats are manually adjustable, but offer heating as standard. The base trim also includes air conditioning and cruise control. To some, that's a perfectly acceptable level of luxury. The Signature trim features dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, eight-way adjustable seats, and remote keyless entry. A step up from that, the Iconic trim offers proximity keyless entry.
Standard safety features across the range include parking sensors at the rear, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and a rearview camera.The Signature trim can be ordered with a Driver Assistance Package for $1,250, and it includes front park distance control, active cruise control, parking assistant, and the Mini head-up display. This same package is available on the Iconic, but only costs $850. It is not available on the base Classic model.
The standard infotainment system has all the functionality you need, though it is bland. It doesn't even have touchscreen functionality. You do get AM/FM, a single CD player, an auxiliary jack, and Bluetooth connectivity. A single USB port is also included for charging devices.
The 2021 update now includes a touchscreen for the Signature model. This package includes; Digital Instrument Cluster, navigation, Apple CarPlay, remote services, and Advanced Real-Time Traffic Information. The standard six-speaker system is replaced with a 12-speaker Harman Kardon setup. The Iconic grade adds a larger 8.8-inch screen and wireless charging.
The Cooper Clubman does not have a rating from J.D. Power, but that doesn't mean it's not reliable. So far there have been no recalls for the 2021 model. The 2019 model was recalled due to a wrong firmware installation on the crankshaft sensor, though, while 2020 models had airbags that might not deploy in a rollover. New purchases are covered by a 50,000-mile/48-month limited and powertrain warranty, while complimentary maintenance is offered for 36,000 miles/36 months.
The Mini Cooper Clubman doesn't have a review from the NHTSA or the IIHS. The two-door hardtop does have an overall rating of "good" from the IIHS. While this is an acceptable rating, it may not be applicable to the Clubman due to the structural differences between the two cars.
The key safety features of the Clubman are adequate, rather than impressive. Every model comes as standard with the most important safety features, including ABS, traction control, stability control, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision avoidance, and seven airbags. The more advanced safety kit is included in the optional Driver Assistance Package, which includes parking sensors at the front, parallel park assist, head-up display, and adaptive cruise control. There aren't as many electronic nannies looking after you in this vehicle, which may have been part of the design brief, seeing as it was always meant to be an engaging car.
There's a lot to like in this review, but you really have to be a Mini fan to write out a check for the Clubman. There are cars that are equally good, if not better to drive, more practical, and better priced than the Clubman.
What Mini tried to do here was combine the essence of the original Mini into a more family-friendly package. It worked to a certain extent, but there's just too much weight to get the full go-kart effect. Having said that, it is one of the better handling hatchback/station wagons out there. It also impresses with its quality interior, which does its part to justify the price. Mini also did a good job of combining a fun driving experience with the everyday practicality the modern consumer demands, but not at a palatable price. It is good fun, but it's not $30,000 fun.
You really need to be a die-hard Mini fan, upgrading from a Cooper hardtop two-door because you need the space. If you're just looking for something just as fun and practical, but at a more reasonable price, there are other options out there.
Given the premium feel of the car and the somewhat generous specs, $29,900 for the base Classic sub-trim isn't a bad starting point for the new Mini Cooper Clubman. The mid-range Signature retails for $34,500, while the top Iconic trim model retails for $38,900. The ALL4 range kicks off at $32,900 for the Classic, $36,500 for the Signature, and $40,900 for the Iconic trim. Optional extras include the $2,000 Premium Package, which includes power-folding exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and electric front seats with memory function. This option is only available on the Signature trim, and comes as standard on the Iconic. Mini charges an additional $850 for destination and handling over and above the price of the Mini Cooper Clubman trims.
The 2021 Mini Cooper Clubman is available in two models in the US, and three further sub-trims. The models are Cooper S, and Cooper S ALL4, differentiated further by Classic, Signature, and Iconic sub-trims.
Obviously, the biggest difference between the two main models is front-wheel drive versus all-wheel drive. Both are powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 189 hp and 207 lb-ft on tap. In the front-wheel-drive model, the engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The all-wheel-drive model uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Classic is the kicking off point as far as the trim is concerned. Exterior wise, it has automatic headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels. The interior is equipped with leatherette seats, power seats, moonroof, cruise control, air conditioning, and a remote-based keyless entry system. The infotainment system looks basic, but it has most of the modern connectivity features, including an auxiliary input and Bluetooth. Music is streamed via an adequate six-speaker sound system. In addition to ABS, traction control, stability control, and a host of airbags, it's also equipped with rear parking sensors, a rear camera, lane departure warning, and forward collision avoidance.
Moving up to Signature trim, there's more room for creating something unique. The additional exterior color and interior leather options, 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation and Apple CarPlay, as well as the 40/20/40 split rear seats make it feel like a more luxurious environment. The standard air-conditioning is upgraded to dual-zone climate control, and the six-speaker system is upgraded to a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. This step-up in the trim line also gives the buyer access to optional trim packages like the Premium and Signature Upholstery packages.
The top-of-the-line Iconic makes a proper style statement, thanks to 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with cornering capability. The leather is available in more hues and can be paired with classy chrome or piano black trim. The infotainment system in this model is 8.8-inches and comes with navigation, SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, and a wireless charging system for certain smartphones.
Oddly, for a car most owners would like to customize to their own personal taste, Mini doesn't offer much in the way of packages. There's not much you can do to the base Classic trim, apart from adding stripes and mirror caps, and SiriusXM, which costs $300.
From the Signature trim, you can upgrade to the larger infotainment system found in the Iconic. This includes a larger 8.8-inch touchscreen, built-in navigation, Apple CarPlay, and wireless charging. The Driver Assistance package adds active cruise control, parking assistant, front parking sensors, and a head-up display. The Signature Upholstery package is standard on the Iconic trim but costs an additional $1,000 to the Signature trim price.
Since there isn't a Cooper Clubman that offers reasonable value for money, this is the kind of purchase where you rely on your heart rather than your head. Having said that, there are a few smart choices you can make for the best Mini Cooper Clubman wagon.
The mid-grade Signature trim offers absolutely everything you need, thanks to the new infotainment system that's now included in the 2021 model year. The only gadget you'll really be missing out on is wireless charging.
The front-wheel-drive is all you really need unless you live in a state where weather conditions make it an absolute necessity.
To get that ultimate engaging driving experience, go for the manual. Unless you live in a city with crazy traffic. If you can afford the Iconic, nothing else will do. If you can't, a manual front-wheel drive Cooper Clubman S in Signature trim should do the job just fine.
The Clubman and Countryman are very similar in the sense that they aim to offer more space for passengers while trying to retain that sporty Mini feel. Being an SUV, the Countryman adds another layer to the mix. Cargo space is more or less the same as it is in the Clubman, but rear-seat passengers do get more legroom.
The Countryman also received some subtle upgrades for 2021, making it an even better proposition for roughly the same amount of cash as the Clubman. The base Classic Countryman model comes with an 8.8-inch touchscreen CID, while Signature and Iconic models are equipped with the 8.8-inch touchscreen navigation unit, which includes a digital instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay, and real-time traffic information. It also features redesigned LED headlights across the range, featuring the same cornering ability as found on the high-end Iconic Clubman. Other exterior upgrades include Union Jack LED taillights and LED fog lights.
The Countryman is also available with a wider range of engines, including turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid. Overall, the Countryman offers more car for roughly the same price. The only downside is a drop in performance, thanks to the added weight over and above the Clubman.
What the Cooper Hardtop loses in practicality, it makes up for in fun. Even with the small 1.5-liter turbocharged triple engine, it is good fun in two-door guise, while the 2.0-liter turbocharged S is a riot. This is the closest you can get to that go-kart feeling that made the classic Mini such an icon. If the main concern is practicality, it would be best to avoid the hardtop. The two-door only has an 8.7-cubic-foot trunk, while the four-door offers 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space. The same is true when it comes to passenger space. The hardtop Cooper simply can't match either the Clubman or the Countryman.
The four-door Cooper S Hardtop is $2,500 less than the equivalent Cooper Clubman S.
Choosing between these two comes down to how much practicality you need, though neither is especially stellar in that particular department. Having said that, if fun is at the top of the list, the Cooper Hardtop is the way to go.