2016 Mini Clubman

Starting MSRP: $24,100 - $27,650

Estimated MPG: 25 city / 35 hwy

2016 Mini Clubman Review

The redesigned 2016 Mini Clubman is many things, but there’s one thing it isn’t, it’s not very “mini.” Take a normal Mini Cooper two-door Hardtop, stretch it about 17 inches, add carriage doors and you’ll have a 2016 Clubman. It’s also bigger than the Cooper four-door, and that extra space makes for a Mini that’s big enough for five normal-sized people or a significant amount of cargo. A pair of innovative engines completes the Clubman picture.

By John M. Vincent
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The Clubman’s membership in the premium category stems directly from its heritage and quirkiness. It starts with an interior that you’ll only find in a Mini, and it shares the super-light handling flavor of the smaller Cooper. The Clubman name was launched in 1969, and the newest iteration carries on the look and feel, albeit in a much larger package.

There are four basic versions of the 2016 Clubman, starting with the turbocharged three-cylinder Cooper Clubman, which starts at $24,100. Mini positions the Clubman as an entry in the premium compact category, though the base model includes a rather minimal equipment list. Step up to the Cooper S Clubman to earn an additional 55 horsepower from its included turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Recently announced were a pair of All4 models, which add all-wheel drive to the available Cooper and Cooper S trims.

Exterior

Exterior
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The Clubman won’t be mistaken for anything other than a Mini, starting with its circular headlights and wheels pushed to the extreme corners of the car. The front end retains the short, yet broad hood line with a subtle power dome and a softly curving trapezoidal grille. A number of headlight options are available, with fully equipped models featuring LED headlights with turning lights and LED fog lights. LED daytime running lights are included with the LED Headlights.

What separates the Clubman from other Minis are its size and the pair of carriage doors on the rear of the car. It’s 10.9 inches longer than the Mini Cooper four-door and 2.9 inches wider. The wheelbase is also 4 inches longer. The Clubman’s overall length is actually slightly longer than that of a Jeep Renegade crossover. Unlike the previous generation of the Clubman, the back seat is accessible by traditional rear doors.

Carriage doors on the back of the Clubman swing open more than 90 degrees for easy cargo loading. There are three possible ways to open the doors – by a release on the door handle, by pressing a button on the remote once for one door and a second time for the other, or by waving your foot under the rear of the car while the remote is with you.

Unlike most other Minis, the taillights are thin and horizontal, with an additional set of lights built into the rear bumper fascia.

The roof of the Clubman floats on a series of black pillars leading back to a small spoiler over the rear doors. It can be finished in several contrasting colors and designs, including a stylish black and white British flag.

Interior

Interior
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The Clubman’s interior is best described as hip with heritage. It’s dominated by a huge, round central display, rimmed with an LED band that changes color based on different vehicle modes and operations. The circle houses either a 6.5- or 8.8-inch color screen, depending on the trim level, with higher trims featuring a rotary dial control on the center console to manage the screen’s functions.

Burrowed in a small cluster of nested circles on top of the steering column are the speedometer and tachometer. A stack of LEDs alongside the speedometer depicts the fuel level. An available head-up display rises like a glass gunsight from a pod on the top of the dash.

In a nod to Mini’s heritage, much of the switchgear is in the form of toggle switches, including the red starter switch at the base of the center stack. A pulsing red light illuminates it when the vehicle is ready to start. A series of toggle switches above the center of the windshield control map lights and the optional panoramic sunroof.

Five full-size passengers can fit into the Clubman, though four would be a more reasonable number for a long drive. With the Clubman’s high, square roof, even taller rear-seat passengers have ample headroom and legroom. Storage compartments are creatively fit throughout the cabin and, in our test car, many feature a cool plaid design inside.

As in Mini fashion, there’s a multitude of different material and trim options, from cloth to an impressive Carbon Black leather. The test car was outfitted with the stylish diamond-patterned indigo Chesterfield Leather with burgundy piping for the front and rear seats. For the first time, the Clubman’s front seats gain optional power control. An ambient light package can alter the lighting environment throughout the interior, but honestly, it would be the second thing we’d turn off, after turning off the distracting LED central display surround.

Performance

Performance
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Mini Cooper Clubman models are equipped with a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder engine, which produces 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. It’s that high torque number that makes the power plant work. It helps that torque comes to its peak at 1,250 rpm and stays high across a wide band. It certainly doesn’t make the Cooper a fast car, but it feels peppy enough.

Cooper S models take performance up several notches, with a 189 horsepower turbocharged inline four-cylinder. It too has its peak torque of 207 pound-feet at 1,250 rpm, with an amazingly wide band that makes the Cooper S a whole lot of fun to drive. The Cooper S is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard on both the Cooper Clubman and Cooper S Clubman. Opt for an automatic gearbox and you’ll get a six-speed in the Cooper and an all-new eight-speed in the Cooper S. A sport-tuned eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is also available on the Cooper S. Automatics can utilize information from the navigation system to anticipate road contours ahead and adjust shift patterns accordingly.

Rotating a collar at the base of the shifter alters the Clubman’s performance personality. If you’re trying for peak efficiency rotate to the “Green” position, where throttle response and the automatic transmission are tightly managed to maximize fuel economy. In the center is the “Mid” mode, which balances performance and economy. Switch into “Sport” mode for the quickest throttle response, steering response and transmission performance.

Mini describes the handling characteristics of its cars as go-kart-like, although the new Clubman is a big go-kart. They’ve reduced the weight of the suspension system by using more aluminum components, and it’s worked well for them. While the Clubman S model doesn’t handle with the zippy precision of smaller Minis, it does very well for a vehicle of its length.

Technology

Technology
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The Mini Clubman’s advanced infotainment technology comes directly from parent company BMW’s parts bin, though it’s been reshaped to fit into a band across the Mini’s circular center display. A 6.5-inch screen is standard, but you’ll want to upgrade to the 8.8-inch model. It’s controlled via a rotary knob on the center console.

As you change settings in the infotainment system, change the driving dynamics feature or perform a number of other actions, the LED ring around the center console changes colors. It’s cool for a little while, but most drivers are going to switch it off in short order to eliminate the distraction.

A gunsight-like head-up display is available. It slowly rises from a recessed area on top of the dash when the car is started, retracting at the end of the trip. Speed, navigation cues and forward collision warning messages can be displayed.

Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, as are USB and auxiliary inputs for the audio system. When you approach the Clubman at night, a Mini logo is projected onto the ground next to the car. The Parking Assistant can help drivers identify a suitable parallel parking place, and then maneuver the Clubman into it.

Safety

Safety
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All Mini Clubmans start with a baseline of six standard air bags, plus adaptive seat belt force limiters for the front seats and LATCH anchors for child seats in the rear. A rearview camera is available, but not standard.

The Driving Assistant package features adaptive cruise control, as well as collision and pedestrian warning and automatic collision mitigation braking. Road-sign speed-limit detection and automatic high-beam headlights are also included in the package.

Some other advanced electronic driving aids are becoming common for vehicles in this price class, but they are not available on the Clubman. These features include blind spot warning, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The cost-effectiveness of the Mini Cooper Clubman rests on the value of its intangible features, including the Clubman’s style and relative exclusivity. With the multitude of optional appearance features available, your personalized Mini isn’t something that you will see all of your neighbors driving.

The base price for the 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman is $24,100, plus an $850 destination charge. Step up to the much more powerful and enjoyable to drive Clubman S and it will set you back $27,650. Want all-wheel drive? The Cooper S Clubman ALL4 will cost $29,450 to start.

The starting prices will only get you part way to the special Clubman that most buyers will want, as the base models are just that, basic. In order to get a backup camera, it will cost you $500 as a stand-alone option, or you’ll need the $1,750 Technology package that also includes navigation and backup radar. Start loading the Clubman up and you can quickly pass the $30K mark. Top models can price out like our test car at $36,850.

At that price, you could also look at alternatives in the marketplace, including the broad array of compact SUVs with more space and flexibility than the Clubman, but without the allure of British coolness.

Overall

Overall
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The Clubman combines classic Mini style and handling, with a larger, more flexible cabin suitable for four adults and their stuff. The trade-off for the aesthetics and prowess, however, is that the Clubman is not as well equipped as others in the price range, and it lacks the availability of some advanced safety features expected in the segment.