With a choice of engines from frugal to fast, the interior space of a midsize car, the option of all-wheel drive, and that famed Mini nimbleness, the 2018 Mini Clubman range continues to mix the special with the sensible.
You'll Like The 2018 MINI Clubman If...
The idea of a Mini -- with its entertaining chassis and inimitable style -- has great appeal, but you also need sufficient space for kids, kin, kits and/or caboodles. Not that the 2018 Clubman is minivan-sized, but it does bring an appreciable amount of practicality to complement its cornering talents.
You May Not Like The 2018 MINI Clubman If...
…you’re a frequent rear-seat passenger. Among the Clubman’s few downsides is a back seat that’s not so well shaped or well cushioned. Pricing can also inflate quickly from its $26,000 starting point. The cheaper VW Golf SportWagen has more space and standard power, plus optional all-wheel drive.
A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are now standard throughout the range. As is a driver-attentiveness assistant. There’s been a revision and rationalization of the fuel gauge and some switchgear. And Apple CarPlay smartphone integration becomes part of the optional Technology package.
The 2018 Mini Clubman is classified as midsize by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So despite the company name, there should be no qualms about adequate space. Even an adult male of average size could sit in the back and not complain about room for head or knees. Cargo space is similarly accommodating, with 17.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expanding to 47.9 cubic feet when they’re folded down. The cabin’s refined vibe comes courtesy of soft-touch plastics, premium switchgear and decent sound deadening. The touch/rotary controller below the center display is derived from BMW, Mini’s parent company.
Up front, the Mini Clubman wears the usual house design, while the back is distinguished by a pair of doors that swing out barn-style. Mini ditched the previous generation’s awkward rear-hinged door on the passenger side for four proper doors this time around. The hotter S model sports a special front-end treatment as well as dual exhaust pipes with chrome tips, while the hottest JCW Clubman has bespoke front and rear fascias, plus a racy red stripe across the grille.
The new Mini Clubman has matured from its original incarnation, but is still lively and engaging. In regular form, this is one of the best-handling front-drive setups around, with an eagerness to transition from left to right to left again. All-wheel drive can still retain most of this agility. Acceleration with the 3-cylinder version is merely adequate, though; it takes nine seconds to saunter from a standstill to 60 mph. For buyers wanting all-wheel drive, this isn’t the best engine to pair with it. At the other end of the spectrum, the John Cooper Works version has a thrilling amount of zip to go with its stiffer sport suspension. Most people will find the Cooper S Clubman hits many right notes in terms of power, ride quality, refinement, equipment and price.
The 2018 Mini Clubman has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just under $26,000 (including the $850 destination charge). Quite alluring for such style, fun and practicality. However, prices rise quickly. The more powerful Cooper S costs about $29,500, while the range-topping JCW Clubman ALL4 starts at just under $37,000 -- beyond BMW X1 territory. And that’s before options, which can add thousands more. Such is the cost of owning something as distinctive as a Mini. There are slightly larger, more practical cars like the Honda Civic and Mazda3 hatchbacks, or the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, all for thousands less, but they can’t offer the flair and community that come with a Mini. Before racing to the dealer, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying. The Clubman's resale value is expected to hold up quite well.
The entry-level 2018 Clubman has a 3-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual transmission. Things improve from there with 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, selectable driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport), keyless ignition, simulated leather upholstery, ambient cabin lighting, plus an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch color display, app support, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB port, and voice control. The Cooper S has a gutsier engine, sport seats, bigger wheels, fog lights, and black Leatherette seats. The Clubman JCW has the most powerful engine and an array of performance extras.
Mini claims 10 million permutations to make each of its cars as individual as possible. Among the many extras are hood stripes, LED fog lights, dual-pane sunroof, head-up display, premium harman/kardon audio system, and choices of alloy wheel designs. Apple CarPlay is part of the Technology package, but that also brings other desirable items like navigation, head-up display, 8.8-inch touch screen, and parking sensors up front. Then there’s the consideration of which engine to have and whether all-wheel drive is required. The transmission is an easier decision; an automatic is available in all trims.
POWERED REAR DOORS
There are powered tailgates on wagons, SUVs and minivans, but this is the first time we've seen powered swing-out doors. Not only are they handy, they’re cool to watch. Even more impressive, they can open automatically with a mere motion of a foot -- great for when your hands are full.
INDIVIDUALITY AND COMMUNITY
Thanks to the styling, driving experience and the scope for personalization, Mini cars have character and a special appeal. It attracts a certain buyer, people who tend to be more gregarious and outgoing than average. This has resulted in a camaraderie and regular get-togethers like Mini Takes the States.
Under the Hood
The 2018 Mini Clubman is available in base, Cooper S and John Cooper Works models. Base versions have a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine, connected to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Cooper S Clubman has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Its 189 horsepower goes through either the 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. The JCW Clubman also uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4, but it’s tuned here for 228 horsepower. With a standstill-to-60-mph time of six seconds flat, it's the fastest of the three. All engines require premium fuel. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on base and Cooper S models, but standard with the JCW.
1.5-liter turbocharged inline-3 (Cooper)
134 horsepower @ 4,400 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg (manual, FWD), 24/32 mpg (automatic, FWD), 22/32 mpg (manual, AWD), 23/31 mpg (automatic, AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Cooper S)
189 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual, FWD), 23/32 mpg (automatic, FWD), 21/30 mpg (manual, AWD), 22/31 mpg (automatic, AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (John Cooper Works ALL4)
228 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,450 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg (manual), 23/31 mpg (automatic)
The 2018 Mini Clubman is the next size up from the Hardtop, the smallest car in the marque’s portfolio. It’s even bigger than the 4-door Hardtop -- about a foot longer and a few inches wider. Much of that length is in the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles), which translates to a smoother ride. The extra width also benefits interior volume and handling stability. So the Clubman has space, but stays low to the ground (unlike the Countryman), which is where anyone who wants to enjoy this excellent chassis needs to be. Like other Mini vehicles, the Clubman is more upscale than the usual Fords and Hondas, which is reflected in the pricing. It also comes with a dizzying number of options.