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Review: Mini Cooper S Clubman

Driven April 2017

Review: Mini Cooper S Clubman

What are the regular complaints about the Mini Cooper S? It’s too cramped and it’s too stiff. What are the regular complaints about the Countryman? It’s too stiff and it looks too different. But what if you could solve both these problems at one go? Say hello to the Mini Cooper S Clubman.

The Clubman is longer and wider than the Cooper S. Just to put this into perspective, it is 403mm longer, 73mm wider and 27mm taller than the three-door Mini. The larger size also makes it over 300kg heavier than the Cooper S. The engine is still the same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol in the same state of tune as the Cooper S. So that’s 189bhp and 280Nm of torque delivered via a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

But what does this all mean? From the outside, the Clubman looks exactly like a widened Mini would. Flattened frog analogies aside, it isn’t a bad look. In fact, the design still grabs lots of attention. But most of the stares are wondering what kind of Mini it is. Because while this is definitely a Mini, it is distinctive in its own way. It might take a moment to register, but it registers nevertheless. The most obvious angles from which it looks different is from the side and rear. The two full size doors on either side and the extended length leave no doubt that this is no ordinary Mini. The split doors to the boot and the horizontal tail lights too do the same thing.

Inside too carries forward the ‘same, but not the same’ theme. The interiors are typically Mini, but with subtle changes like different aircon vents. The circular display in the centre console remains the same and so do the instrumentation, steering wheel and the seats. The larger dimensions do mean more space inside and a usable second row. And not to mention that cavernous boot that offers anywhere between 360 to 1250 litres of space depending on whether the second row is folded.

You would expect that with the larger dimensions and extra weight, the Clubman has lost that go-kart feel that Minis are famous for. Only, that isn’t the case here. Admittedly, the sharpness has been dulled a little bit. But the car still retains the direct, quick steering nature from the other Minis. Some of the dynamic loss is thanks to the softer suspension. But the advantage that it brings is great ride quality. The Clubman is the most comfortable Mini yet. The ride isn’t harsh at all and is, in fact, quite absorptive.

The extra weight also doesn’t make the Mini shy away from going really, really fast. In fact, it can hit 100kmph in 7.8 seconds. The transmission is quick and the acceleration is linear. There is a slight delay in downshifts in kickdowns, but nothing too drastic. The motor can sit at 160kph all day without any stress. And the occasion calls for it, 200+ kph speeds aren’t a problem either. It isn’t too inefficient either. Mini claims 13.84kpl overall, which is quite decent. But like all other Minis, when you start driving fast, the motor guzzles even faster.

The Clubman is every bit a Mini as any other. The Countryman too is a larger Mini, but it doesn’t quite retain the character of the brand and stay true to design as well as the Clubman. It also brings a lot more everyday uability to the Mini world. The car is more spacious, can seat four people comfortably and five in reasonable comfort. It is as sprightly as the Cooper S and hasn’t lost that go-kart-ness of the Minis. And, the ride quality is really, really good. It’s stiff, but so much more comfortable than the other Minis.

The Clubman sells for Rs 37.90 lakh (ex-showroom) all over India. When you consider the usability that it brings over the other Minis, the money will be well spent. It looks like a Mini, goes like a Mini and is now comfortable too. What more could you ask for?

2.0-litre, 4cyl, turbo-petrol, 189bhp, 280Nm, 6A, FWD

Verdict: More space, plusher ride and good handling make this Mini a great everyday car.

Ashok George

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