Used 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman Review

Edmunds expert review

Is a Mini still a Mini if it's not mini? In the case of the 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman, we think so. It's plenty practical thanks to its four-door design, yet you'll still enjoy the same Mini charm found in other models. Ready to learn if this Brit is right for you?




What's new for 2016

The Mini Cooper Clubman has been fully redesigned for 2016. Formerly just a stretched version of the Mini Cooper hatchback, the Clubman is now a larger four-door model that is similar in size to other compact hatchbacks.

Vehicle overview

There will be those who lambaste the 2016 Mini Clubman, an enlarged four-door interpretation of the Mini Cooper formula, for betraying the brand's defining principle. Indeed, one can certainly ponder whether a Mini is still a Mini if it's not mini.

The 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman ditches its predecessor's quirky three-door design in favor of four conventional passenger doors.

Yet the all-new Clubman is an understandable and appealing extension of the Mini brand: It's a larger car for Mini loyalists whose vehicle needs have outgrown the standard Cooper. The Clubman is about 10 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the four-door Cooper hatchback, and has a 4-inch-longer wheelbase. It's even bigger than what used to be the "big" Mini, the Countryman. In fact, the Clubman's exterior dimensions are slightly greater than those of the Volkswagen Golf/GTI. That translates into a much larger and truly usable backseat and cargo area, along with a more comfortable, refined ride.

Thankfully, the Clubman still boasts plenty of Mini quirkiness for those loyalists who expect toggle switches, multicolor ambient lighting, cool customization options and distinctive design details. Want to order a British Racing Green Clubman with a Union Jack roof, black hood stripes, chromed mirror caps, big 18-inch wheels, a JCW styling kit and a bunch of hand-picked interior features? Mini will build that for you, no problem. The Clubman also benefits from higher interior quality and sophistication compared to its smaller siblings.

Unfortunately, those greater dimensions also include a heftier curb weight. Although this does temper the ultra-nimble Mini handling somewhat, the bigger concerns are acceleration and fuel economy. Mini fits the Clubman with the same engines as the regular Cooper; as such, the base Clubman's 134-horsepower three-cylinder is comparatively overburdened, while the 189-hp four-cylinder in the Clubman S feels less sprightly than you might expect. Fuel economy is also unremarkable for both engines, despite Mini's historical leadership in this category.

And then there's the matter of pricing. Buyers have shown a willingness to pay a premium for a Mini, but we wonder if the brand is overreaching, as the asking price can top $40,000 for a loaded S model. While the Clubman's closest rival on paper is the Volkswagen Golf/GTI, its price range stretches into territory occupied by the higher-performance Golf R and entry-level luxury sedans like the Audi A3, BMW 320i and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Of course, the Clubman's hatchback versatility sets it apart from those sedans, and you might find the Golf R's personality comparatively cold. But it's nonetheless unusual for a Mini to be competing against big names like these.

Overall, though, we like the new 2016 Cooper Clubman. It's a more practical and refined option for Mini loyalists who have outgrown the regular Cooper, and it's a premium, character-rich hatchback alternative for those cross-shopping outside the brand.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman is a compact, four-door hatchback (but with double cargo-van-style rear doors in place of the usual lift-up hatch). There are Cooper and Cooper S trim levels.

Standard equipment on the Cooper includes 16-inch alloy wheels, run-flat tires, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver-selectable vehicle setting modes, a height-adjustable driver seat, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat and multicolor ambient lighting. Standard tech includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the Mini Connected infotainment interface (6.5-inch central display with knob and button controls on the center console), smartphone app integration and a six-speaker sound system with HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port and a media player interface.

The 2016 Clubman looks more like a wagon than a hatchback from the side.

The Cooper S has a more powerful engine, 17-inch wheels, extra styling flourishes, foglights and front sport seats with adjustable thigh support (optional on Cooper).

The options list is extensive, with many items available in both packages and as stand-alone items. This can make the purchase process confusing, but it does increase the Clubman's customization possibilities.

Highlights include adaptive suspension dampers, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, an automatic parallel parking system, adaptive cruise control, various wheel designs (17- and 18-inch), a panoramic sunroof, a rear spoiler, black or white hood stripes, roof rails, LED headlights and foglights, a rear foglight, automatic high-beam headlight control, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors and a space-saver spare tire.

Interior options include a rearview camera (bundled with rear parking sensors), eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar and driver memory functions), heated front seats, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, leatherette/cloth upholstery, leather/cloth upholstery, full leather upholstery, a sport steering wheel, various interior trims, a head-up display, satellite radio and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

There are also various functional and style accessories available, plus a few packages that include exclusive equipment. The Technology package adds an 8-inch display, a navigation system along with the rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. The JCW Exterior and Interior packages add special design flourishes from Mini's John Cooper Works performance division.



Performance & mpg

The Cooper Clubman is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 134 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent to the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed automatic is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 28 mpg combined for both transmissions, with city/highway figures differing ever so slightly (25/35 manual, 25/34 automatic). These are slightly lower numbers than the rival Golf 1.8T puts up. Mini estimates that the Cooper will go from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds regardless of transmission. If true, that would be a bit slower than average among four-door compacts (and about a full second behind the Golf).

The Cooper S has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. It, too, has a standard six-speed manual and front-wheel drive, but its optional automatic has eight speeds. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy dips to 27 mpg combined (24/34) with the automatic and 26 (22/32) with the manual. Mini says the Cooper S will hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds with the automatic and 7 flat with the manual. Here again, the Volkswagen alternative (the GTI) is about a second quicker.

Safety

Every 2016 Clubman includes standard antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags and front-seat side airbags. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are optional. Some common high-tech accident-avoidance features aren't available (blind-spot and lane-departure warnings, for example), but forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking comes bundled with the Active Driving Assistant package.

Driving

The Mini Cooper has always been defined by its nimble feel, and the 2016 Cooper Clubman has the same spirit. The low-slung driving position and chunky wheel will be instantly familiar, and so will the agile dynamics. Because of its bigger size and heavier weight, the Clubman isn't quite as quick to react as the standard Cooper, but it still turns in quickly and body roll is exceptionally well suppressed. On a twisting road, the not-so-mini Mini still inspires a confidence that few of its rivals can match.

The 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman has a nimble character on the road, but its acceleration is underwhelming.

It also feels like a more premium product than its smaller siblings. Road-going ride comfort and interior quietness, in particular, are better than anything we've experienced in a Mini before. This is actually a comfortable long-distance machine, which further validates any comparisons to luxury models.

The story under the hood is less inspiring. The turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines that so energetically get the standard Cooper hardtop models up to speed are saddled with hundreds of extra pounds in the Clubman. The result is diminished performance, especially with the base engine. On the upside, the manual gearbox has a positive, mechanical feel to it and the Cooper S's quick-shifting eight-speed automatic is nicely tuned to match the four-cylinder's broad power delivery.

Interior

The 2016 Clubman unquestionably provides the most grown-up Mini cabin to date: both literally and figuratively. The backseat has far more legroom than the four-door Mini Cooper hardtop, allowing two 6-footers to sit comfortably behind two more in the front. Its rear passenger doors are also larger, facilitating easier access.

The new Clubman's interior borrows heavily from that of the regular Mini Cooper.

The Clubman also looks and feels more grown-up in terms of its design and the materials used. There are still plenty of playful design elements, but the car's greater width allows for a more functional and sensibly designed center console than the one found in the regular Mini. In particular, the center armrest and Mini Connected infotainment controls are more ergonomic. The system itself functions similarly to BMW's iDrive, with sharp graphics and highly customizable settings, and it's pretty easy to use once you climb the learning curve.

The materials used throughout are generally of high quality and compare favorably with luxury cars like the A3 and CLA. That's a good thing, because the base leatherette upholstery is an exception to that rule, and stepping up to one of the cool leather choices is just one of many decisions that can quickly elevate the Clubman's price into luxury territory.

As for the cargo area, you access it by swinging out a pair of cargo-vanlike rear doors, because, well, it's just one of those quirky Mini things. Opening them both reveals 17.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up, a figure that's on the small side for a compact hatchback. But the Clubman's total of 47.9 cubes with the rear seats folded down is pretty good for this class. It's also important to note just how much more room there is compared to the two- and four-door Mini Cooper models.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.