2008 Cooper Clubman New Car Test Drive
BMW's Mini division introduced the Mini Cooper in 2002 as a premium subcompact car. The Mini Cooper gets rave reviews for its go kart driving dynamics, but the small size and lack of cargo space are issues for some buyers. Now comes Mini's answer to that dilemma: the Mini Cooper Clubman.
The Mini Cooper Clubman is 9.4 inches longer than the regular Mini Cooper and it rides on a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase. That extra room translates into added rear seat and cargo space. While the base Mini Cooper's rear seat is quite restricted, the Mini Cooper Clubman's second seating row is a viable space to put two adults. Be aware, however, that even with the extra size, the Clubman is still a small car, and as such the rear seat isn't exactly cavernous. Basically, it will work for adults provided the occupants up front aren't 6-foot, 5-inch small forwards.
The main concern for potential buyers and Mini engineers alike with adding more room is maintaining Mini's fun-to-drive character. We're glad to say that is not a problem. The Clubman is just as fun as the Mini Cooper and is actually a bit more stable in long, sweeping turns. Plus, the added length helps the Clubman iron out bumps better, improving upon a notorious problem for the Mini Cooper, especially the S.
Like the standard Mini Cooper, the Clubman has precise steering and confident braking. It changes direction quickly, though not quite as sharply as its little brother, and is easy to maneuver in and out of traffic. Most importantly and like the regular Mini, the Clubman puts a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel.
The view from the front seat is the same as it is in the Mini Cooper. Only the tachometer is located in front of the driver and a larger round speedometer is featured at the top of the center stack, to the driver's right. The radio is a bit odd to use, as the tuning and volume knobs are located about eight inches apart. The window switches are also located on the center stack instead of the doors. The whole layout takes some getting used to.
The Mini's high roofline leaves plenty of head room in the driver's seat, so even though the Clubman is a small car, big guys will fit. As mentioned above, the rear seat is hospitable for adults, and it folds down to create a flat load floor. The Clubman's cargo volume is 32.8 cubic feet versus 24.0 cubic feet for the regular Mini.
The Clubman costs about $2000 more than the standard Mini. Its combination of a smoother ride, more room, and similar handling make it an easier car to live with on a daily basis and the better choice for drivers that regularly carry passengers and cargo.
The 2008 Mini Clubman is offered in two models, Mini Cooper Clubman and Mini Cooper S Clubman. The base Clubman comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 118 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 114 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm. The S also has a 1.6-liter four, but it is turbocharged and makes 172 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come standard with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic ($1250) with a manual shiftgate and paddle shifters.
Standard equipment on the base Clubman includes leatherette upholstery, air conditioning, interior air filter, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, trip computer, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, height-adjustable front seats, split folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player, cooled glovebox, theft-deterrent system, and P175/65R15 tires on alloy wheels.
Options are available in Mini's 'popcorn pricing' structure at $100, $250, $500, $750, $1000, $1500 and $2000 price levels. For $100, customers can choose hood stripes, chrome exterior mirror caps, and rear fog lamps. For $250, you can get an anthracite headliner, various interior trims, a universal garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a center armrest, fog lamps, automatic headlights, and sport seats. For $500, you can have HD Radio, heated front seats, rear park assist, automatic climate control with an interior air filter, xenon headlights, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link with USB port, metallic paint, sport suspension, wood steering wheel with audio controls, alarm, power folding exterior mirrors, Comfort Access keyless starting, and the Mini HiFi sound system. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels cost $750. A sunroof, cloth and leather upholstery, and Sirius satellite radio with a lifetime subscription cost $1000 each. Leather upholstery runs $1500, and premium English leather upholstery and a navigation system are $2000 each.
The Clubman's Premium package ($1500) comes with a dual sunroof with a fixed glass rear panel, automatic climate control, and the Mini HiFi sound system. Also offered is a Sport package ($1500) with sport suspension, 16-inch wheels with performance tires, sport seats, fog lamps, and white or black hood stripes. The Cold Weather package ($500) has power folding outside mirrors, heated washer jets and heated front seats. And the Convenience package ($1500) has a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Comfort Access, a universal garage door opener, a center armrest, automatic headlights, and a Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link with a USB port.
The S model adds sport seats, fog lamps, sport suspension, and P195/55R16 tires to the base model's standard equipment. It also has all the same option packages as the base model, but its Sport package ($1500) has 17-inch wheels instead of 16s and adds xenon headlights. S-exclusive options consist of a limited-slip differential ($500) and 17-inch alloy wheels ($750).
In addition to a 4 year/50,000 mile standard warranty, all Minis have free maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles.
Safety features include dual front airbags, seated-mounted front side airbags, curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows, a tire-pressure monitor, antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, and brake cornering control. Hill Start Assist is standard with manual transmission models. The only safety option is rear park assist.