By Keith Buglewicz
The Mini Cooper Clubman debuted nearly a decade ago as the "big" Mini, with a bigger back seat, more cargo space, and unique barn-door-type swinging doors instead of a hatchback. The 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman is an all-new version of the same idea, but rather than just getting much bigger, the 2016 Mini Clubman adds something that's been sorely missing from the Mini lineup: refinement. The new Mini Clubman is quiet on the road, which combines with its comfortably tuned suspension for a calm and relaxed ride. "Calm" and "relaxed" are rarely used to describe Mini cars, but don't worry: The driving fun we associate with Mini is still alive and well in the new Clubman.
If you like the idea of a Mini, but have needed something bigger or more refined, then the 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman may just be the ticket. It's still available with the distinctive styling and broad customization associated with the brand, but in a notably larger and more comfortable package.
There are two drawbacks to the new Clubman. First is the back seat, which suffers from a prominent hard lump right around where your hips are. Second is the price, which starts at a reasonable-sounding $25,000, but can quickly climb into the $30,000 range, and even push $40,000.
The 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman is all-new this year. It dwarfs its predecessor and is the largest Mini in the lineup, bigger even than the Countryman SUV. With four doors and plenty of cargo space, it makes good use of its new size and is also more comfortable and refined.
Minis are known for being youthful and fun, but "youthful" was just a nice way of saying noisy, unrefined, and stiff-riding round town. So imagine our shock when the 2016...
... Mini Cooper Clubman was still fun, but without those downsides. It's quiet, with little wind noise at speed, and even the engine growl at full throttle was nicely subdued. Refinement, such as comfort and interior materials, are what you'd expect for a $30,000 car. The Clubman's longer wheelbase helps contribute to a much smoother highway ride. But there's still plenty of youthful appeal. The standard 3-cylinder Clubman is surprisingly zippy, while the Cooper S Clubman with its turbocharged 4-cylinder is downright quick, and we think the new 8-speed automatic transmission on the Cooper S Clubman is going to be very popular. Ride comfort doesn't sacrifice handling, and the suspension combines with the sharp steering for an entertaining drive.
POWER REAR DOORS
You've been able to get a power hatch on wagons, SUVs and minivans for years now. But this is the first time we've seen power-swing-out doors, and not only are they handy, they’re just kinda cool to watch.
While the more powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder may get all the enthusiast love, we want to give a shout-out to the little 3-banger under the hood of the standard Mini Cooper Clubman. It's no speed demon, but it's no slouch either, and it gets great fuel economy to boot.
The new Mini Clubman is much roomier than before. You have elbow room between you and your seatmate, the rear can seat three, and there's plenty of cargo space. Then there's the refinement, with soft-touch surfaces everywhere, a much quieter cabin, and switchgear and knobs that look the same, but feel more expensive. Mini alumni will be right at home thanks to the center-mounted display and aesthetic, but rear-seat passengers will want to make trips as short as possible, thanks to a hard lump right in the middle of the bottom cushion.
Maybe it's because we associate the bug-eyed, chrome-grilled, lumpy-fender Mini look with really small cars, but there's something about the 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman that just looks enormous. In reality it's not much bigger than a Volkswagen Golf, and actually smaller than a Mazda3. But the width and length -- the latter exaggerated by the long wheelbase -- give it an outsized sense of enormity. Size aside, this is a good-looking car, and we're glad Mini ditched the goofy rear-hinged door on the passenger side for four proper doors all around. And you've gotta check out the power rear doors.
We have to admit that the new Mini Clubman does come nicely equipped. There's dual-zone climate control, a 6-speed manual transmission with rev matching, and an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch color display, app support, Bluetooth audio streaming, and voice control. The windshield wipers are rain-sensing, there's keyless ignition, and the Clubman comes with three driving modes for Eco, Sport and Normal. In addition to the more powerful engine, the Cooper S Clubman gets sport seats, bigger wheels and tires, fog lights, chrome exhaust tips, a special Cooper S front-end treatment, and black Leatherette seats.
There are a ton of customization options available for the Mini Cooper Clubman, giving you the option of making your Mini unique. Beyond that are a ton of option packages, such as the Sport Package, which adds bigger wheels (17-inch for the standard Clubman; 18-inch for the Cooper S Clubman), LED headlights and taillights (and fog lights on S models), and adjustable shocks. A Premium package adds a dual-pane sunroof and upgraded audio system, while the Technology package adds a bigger infotainment display, navigation, the Mini Connected app portfolio, and a rearview camera.
The 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman comes in two flavors: standard and S. Standard Cooper Clubman models get a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, connected to either a slick-shifting 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 134-horsepower 3-banger gives the Clubman a decent kick in the pants; not fast, but not so slow that you'll regret your decision, either. Opt for the Cooper S Clubman, and you'll get one additional cylinder with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. This puts out 189 horsepower, routed either through the 6-speed manual or a new 8-speed automatic, which offers manual shifting and better fuel economy than the 6-speed. Note that both engines require premium fuel, which at least partially cancels out the savings you get from the good fuel economy numbers.
1.5-liter turbocharged inline-3
134 horsepower @ 4,400 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/35 mpg (manual), 25/34 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
189 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (manual), 24/34 mpg (automatic)
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) for the standard 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman start around $25,000 including the $850 destination charge. The Cooper S Clubman starts at $28,500. However, everything is extra. If you want any color except white, you'll be looking at an extra $500 at least. Packages range from $750 to $3,000, excluding customization options like the $100 hood stripes, the $250 exterior chrome package, or wheel-and-tire packages that can range up to $1,250. Careful shoppers could still find themselves spending around $30,000, and more than $35,000 isn't out of the question. That said, there's nothing quite like a Mini, and the endless customization means there's nothing quite like YOUR Mini, either. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid, and keep in mind that whatever you pay, at least your Mini will maintain decent resale value.