Love everything the MINI Cooper hatchback has to offer except its diminutive size? Wish there was something a little bigger but not a crossover like the MINI Cooper Countryman?
Well there is, and it’s called the MINI Cooper Clubman.
Essentially a long-wheelbase MINI Cooper, with a usable back seat and funky three-door arrangement, the MINI Cooper Clubman is a unique proposition in the new car market and offers much more style than rivals like the Audi A3, Mazda Mazda3, and Volkswagen Golf.
In addition to its good looks and abundant street-cred--yes, the Clubman will turn heads--the car also benefits from MINI’s trademark sporty handling. You might think the extra size of the Clubman would compromise its sportiness, but you'd be wrong. Driven back-to-back with the regular Cooper, there's a slight difference, but despite the extra wheelbase and weight, the Clubman is nimble, quick, and light on its wheels.
You’ll find that the extra size actually helps improve smoothness and stability a little over the standard Cooper hatch. The sporty suspension of the Clubman does result in some ride harshness on rough roads, but it’s nothing really to complain about unless your daily commute includes some country dirt tracks.
The good news is that opting for the more practical Clubman doesn't mean you have to miss out on any of the regular Cooper's sporty offerings like the 208-horsepower John Cooper Works edition. For our money we’d definitely pick this variant, as not only do you get a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine dishing out 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, but a host of suspension mods to help you make the most of it.
Note, JCW MINIs only come with a six-speed manual so buyers who prefer an auto will have to stick with the base or Clubman S models. This latter version is also strong on power, coming with a detuned version of the JCW’s engine rated at 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque.
The base model misses out on the turbo fun and its 121-horsepower rating can feel a bit pedestrian so make sure you test-drive all the versions to see which fits your driving style best. All are good with gas mileage, scoring up to 27/36 mpg in both base and Clubman S guises and 25/33 mpg for the JCW.
Inside, you get the full MINI treatment, with retro gauges, good build quality, and excellent trim options. Note, prices can start to rise quite quickly once you start ticking the options boxes so be careful.
For more details on the 2012 MINI Clubman range, check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.