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MINI Clubman Cooper estate (2007 – ) expert review

By Mark Nichol, 30th April 2010

The verdict

Calling the MINI Clubman an estate is pushing it, but it does add useful extra practicality and even more quirky style to the MINI’s famous go-kart handling.

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Expert rating:

3.5

Pros

  • Clubman style adds legroom and boot space
  • As great to drive as regular MINI
  • Completely original looks

Cons

  • Still has a cramped rear and small boot
  • Expensive to buy, especially with options
  • Single rear ‘Club Door’ is of limited use

Full Review

1. Exterior

If ever a car had polarising looks, the MINI Clubman is it – and it hasn’t mellowed with age. One of its key features is the single rear side ‘Club Door’, which makes the car longer than the standard MINI. It’s rear-hinged so it makes for a wider access to the back seats, but it opens out onto the road in right-hand drive cars. The boot is its other quirk, as it has two side-hinged doors. Those things add to the MINI’s already unique style to result in a very distinctive car.

Our rating: 4

2. Interior

The dashboard is pure MINI, which means an enormous central speedometer and a driving position that even very tall people can get on with, due to generous seat and wheel movement. The MINI cabin is simultaneously unusual and intuitive, as well as being built solidly. Most of the surfaces you touch are covered in soft materials, though some of the trim and lower cabin is of hard, cheaper plastics. The toggle switches are a nice touch, as are interior ambient lights whose colour can be changed to suit your mood.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

Expect the Clubman to be an estate – or even a family hatchback – and you’ll be sorely disappointed. There’s just enough legroom for average adults to fit in the back without recourse to contortion, but no more than that. The boot is also small: its 260 litres compares to some superminis (the VW Polo has 280, for instance), but that includes an awkwardly shaped recessed floor. Still, it beats the regular MINI in that it will handle a week’s shopping. We found the front seatbelt also serves as a tripping hazard for those using the Club Door.

Our rating: 2

4. Ride and handling

It’s a cliche to talk about the MINI in go-kart terms, but the Clubman has that feeling, with a low driving position, accurate steering and tons of feel from the front wheels. It’s a point-and-go hoot driving this thing. The trade-off is ride comfort that can get too bumpy, especially on back roads and potholed streets; it’s not uncommon for a slight crest in the road to send occupants hurtling upwards. While it’s not too harsh sometimes you’ll yearn for a little more comfort.

Our rating: 3

5. Performance

The 122bhp Cooper engine has just enough performance to exploit the Clubman’s wonderful chassis balance without ever feeling really quick. The 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds tells you that this isn’t a hot hatch, but the engine does respond well to revs, so it can feel manic at times. Only a lack of low-down pulling power lets the side down a little. As precise as the slick gearbox is, you might tire of shifting down gears so much – especially when darting through busy city traffic.The 1.6-litre diesel has 112bhp, accelerating the Clubman to 62mph in 10.2 seconds.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

The upshot of that lack of low down pulling power is that by straining the engine (either out of necessity or just for fun), fuel economy will suffer. The official average figure is 51.4mpg, but you’ll hover closer to 40mpg, especially around town. That said, VED costs are low because 125g/km of CO2 puts the car in Band D.The diesel is very economical, averaging 72.4mpg and emitting just 103g/km of CO2. MINI’s excellent TLC package covers three years’ servicing for one single, low payment, regardless of mileage.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

MINI is owned by BMW, and there’s definitely a feeling of German build integrity amid the faux-British charm. This does feel every bit the premium product, built to last. Electrical niggles are not unheard of, but breakdowns are rare. You’re in safe hands.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

Standard stability control, front and side airbags and anti-lock brakes make the MINI a secure place to be, and contribute to its five-star EuroNCAP rating. Isofix child seat mountings are standard too – and you’re more likely to use them in this car than in the standard MINI.

Our rating: 5

9. Equipment

Cooper specification brings with it alloy wheels, air-con, electric windows and a CD player – but they’re the basics you’d expect in a car with a premium price tag. A similarly priced supermini would have plenty more kit bundled in for the same price. The options list is absolutely vast, and that’s before you’ve set to work on roof decals and vinyl bonnet stripes to personalise your car. The Cooper Clubman can get expensive.

Our rating: 2

10. Why buy?

If you wish to be original, want a car that’s great to drive, are prepared to pay the premium and don’t need anything more than supermini space, the MINI Cooper Clubman could be the car for you. You’ll stand out that’s for sure, and have fun while doing so.

Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.5stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality2
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety5
  • Equipment2
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Clubman Cooper

Extra space and fine handling in a stylish package

Best-seller

Clubman Cooper D

Very economical engine with low running costs

Blow the budget

Clubman Cooper D Pepper

Thrifty engine and lots of equipment

The 122bhp Cooper engine has just enough performance to exploit the Clubman’s wonderful chassis balance without ever feeling really quick