Edmunds Expert Review of the 2014 MINI Cooper Clubman
Personable and plenty fun to drive, the 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman traditionally offers a bit more versatility than the regular Mini Cooper hatchback. But now that the standard Cooper is redesigned (and larger), the Clubman has lost some appeal.
With a car as small as the regular Mini Cooper hatchback, it's only natural that some shoppers will be drawn to its iconic design only to decide that they need something roomier. Mini has traditionally offered its wagonlike Cooper Clubman as an obvious solution to this dilemma. And indeed, in previous years the three-door Clubman provided extra versatility without any real drawbacks compared to the regular hardtop hatchback. But with the debut of the fully redesigned (and larger) 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback, the appeal of the 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman has dimmed somewhat.
The selling point of the Clubman continues to be its size. It's a full 9 inches longer than the previous-generation Cooper hatchback model on which it's based. That extra length allowed Mini to add a rear-hinged third door on the passenger side, which makes accessing the rear seats just a little easier. Open the twin barn-style rear doors and you'll also find a larger cargo hold than the old hatchback's.
Compared to the larger 2014 hatchback, though, the Clubman's size differential is lessened. It's still longer, but only by about 4 inches. And if you go by the spec sheet, the new hatchback actually has more cargo space than the Clubman. Additionally, the Clubman still has some notable drawbacks, including a potentially stiff and noisy ride and an interior design that values form over function.
There's a lot to look at this year if you desire a sporty yet practical hatchback. The three-door Hyundai Veloster or roomier, four-door hatchbacks like the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 or Volkswagen Golf/GTI are going to appeal to a broader audience, simply because they're generally more comfortable and functional in normal driving. The cheaper and more refined 2014 Cooper hatchback is very compelling as well. That said, it's hard not to like the 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman, a car that takes everything we like about the British brand and adds just a little bit extra.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman is a four-passenger, two-door hatchback with a third, reverse-opening rear "club" door on the passenger side. In back, a pair of barn-style doors swing outward, replacing the conventional overhead liftgate on the regular Mini hatchback. The Clubman is offered in three trim levels: the base Cooper, sportier Cooper S and high-performance John Cooper Works (JCW).
The entry-level Cooper's list of standard equipment includes 15-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, full power accessories, multicolor ambient lighting, a trip computer, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and an auxiliary audio input jack.
Moving up to the Cooper S gets you a more powerful turbocharged engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights and sport seats. The John Cooper Works adds a more powerful version of the same engine along with 17-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, a dynamic traction mode for the stability control system, a sport-tuned suspension and cloth upholstery.
The Clubman can be customized by choosing from an extensive list of options offered in packages and, in some cases, available separately. Highlights of that list include adaptive xenon headlights, a dual-pane sunroof, automatic climate control, heated front seats, keyless ignition/entry, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, satellite radio and an iPod interface. Other options include about a dozen different wheel choices, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, a navigation system, Mini Connected smartphone app integration and multiple combinations of interior trim and materials. Furthermore, many dealer-installed features are available to help you personalize your Clubman.
Powertrains and Performance
Power for the 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman base model comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that puts out 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The high-performance John Cooper Works trim level uses a modified version of that turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. All Clubman models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic is available as an option.
Mini estimates the entry-level Clubman with the automatic transmission will go from zero to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds (8.9 seconds for the manual). The Clubman S is considerably quicker, with a Mini-estimated 7.1-second 0-60-mph time for the automatic and 6.8 with the manual. The JCW's gains are more incremental, with quoted times at 6.7 seconds with the auto and 6.5 with the manual.
Fuel economy is pretty good no matter which model you pick. The base model returns an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined (27 city/35 highway) with the automatic and 31 mpg with the manual (28/35). Surprisingly, the Clubman's turbocharged engines don't have much of an impact on gas mileage. The gutsier Cooper S is rated at 30 mpg combined (26/35) with either transmission, as is the John Cooper Works Clubman.
The 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman's standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and stability control. Adjustable traction control is standard on the JCW model and optional on the others. Rear parking sensors are optional, while the available Mini Connected package makes it easier to summon roadside assistance via your smartphone's Bluetooth connection.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Cooper S Clubman with summer performance tires came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 112 feet, though most sporty hatchbacks with summer tires post similar numbers.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman, you'll find a slightly roomier backseat which, while not exactly spacious, still offers an additional 1.5 inches of legroom compared to the new Cooper hatchback. The easier access offered by the extra rear-hinged curbside door is another definite plus for anyone planning to travel with more than one friend. The unusual barn-style rear doors open to reveal 9.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats; fold those seatbacks down and you end up with 32.8 cubic feet. That's more than the old Cooper hatchback but less than this year's redesigned Cooper (38 cubic feet).
Styling flourishes such as an oversized central speedometer are charming reminders that the Clubman is indeed a Mini. But this wagon also has quite a few small (and sometimes frustrating) controls that prioritize form over function. The optional Mini Connected infotainment interface provides a colorful 6.5-inch display (located in the center of the car's speedometer) and allows you to stream Internet radio and monitor social media via your smartphone's Bluetooth connection. However, Mini Connected's features can be tricky to use due to the car's control layout.
Like the rest of the carmaker's model lineup, the 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman is all about delivering an engaging driving experience. On a winding stretch of road, the car's nimble reflexes and quick steering inspire confidence. While the sport-tuned suspension and bigger wheels that are offered as an option on the base and S versions (and come standard on the John Cooper Works) provide even sharper handling, the stiff-legged ride quality that comes with these upgrades can be hard to live with day to day. And no matter the model, the Clubman is fairly noisy at highway speeds.
While your initial inclination might be to go with the more powerful turbocharged engines in the Cooper S and JCW variants, the base model's standard engine feels zippier than Mini's 0-60-mph acceleration estimates suggest, regardless of whether you go with the manual or automatic transmission. If you're trying to keep the bottom line reasonable, the base Cooper Clubman is worth at least a test-drive. That said, it's hard to deny the pleasure that comes with the more muscular turbocharged engines in the Cooper S and JCW models. They're significantly quicker and do just as well in the fuel economy department.
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