You'll Like The 2008 MINI Cooper If...
The MINI brand's reputation for go-kart-like driving dynamics has not been compromised due to the Clubman's larger size. If you're worried that the Clubman won't put a smile on your face, don't be.
You May Not Like The 2008 MINI Cooper If...
The MINI Cooper S Clubman features large wheels and a sport-tuned suspension that contribute to a hard ride on pockmarked roads. Try the S before you buy, especially if you live in an area where roads tend to be rougher. Also, some buyers may find the Clubman's center-situated control layout distracting.
The Clubman is 9.4 inches longer than the MINI Cooper hardtop and convertible and rides on a 3.2-inches longer wheelbase. It also has an additional rear access door on the passenger side and, in place of a hatchback, it has rear side-hinged "barn" doors that open wide to swallow cargo.
The Clubman's avant-garde interior features quality materials in an odd control layout that places the tachometer on the steering column and a large round speedometer and many of the controls in the center of the dash. Front seat occupants have plenty of room -- even for big guys -- and the rear seat is a hospitable place for two adults. The second-row seatbacks are split 60/40 and fold to create a flat load floor and provide 32.8 cubic feet of cargo volume, which is 37 percent more than the MINI Cooper hardtop. The Clubman's split rear doors provide easy access to the cargo area and its extra rear-seat room and cargo space are compelling reasons to choose it over the normal-configuration MINI.
The Clubman is identical to other MINIs from the front bumper to the back of the front doors. On the passenger side it has a small rear "Club Door" to provide access to the back seat. Of the 9.4 inches of added length, 6.3 inches are found behind the rear wheels, but the wheels still look as if they're pushed to the corners. At the back, the Clubman has split rear "barn" doors inspired by the Austin Countryman and MINI Traveler of the 1960s. S models add a black mesh front grille, a front hood scoop, larger wheels, a chrome gas cap and dual exhaust.
The feel behind the wheel is unmistakably MINI. The steering is quick and responsive, the brakes are easy to modulate and provide worry-free stops and, though it's the largest MINI, the Clubman still feels light and nimble. The S model has a sport suspension, and even-stiffer settings are offered with the S model's Sport package. The stiffer suspensions result in more ride firmness, but the Clubman's longer wheelbase makes it less punishing than the hard-riding hatchback. Most drivers will find the base engine to be adequate, but enthusiasts will appreciate the extra power of the S model, as its turbocharged engine offers its peak torque from 1,600 to 5,000 rpm, which keeps ready power on tap in just about all circumstances. Base model or S, the Clubman will put a smile on your face every time you drive it.
The 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman starts with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of around $21,000, about $2,000 more than a MINI Cooper hatchback, and tops out at more than $36,000. The MINI Cooper S Clubman starts with an MSRP around $24,000 and can be optioned to approach $41,000. Like the hatchback, we expect our Fair Purchase Prices to reflect real-world transaction prices right around MSRP. The Clubman costs more than many other small cars, but it is expected to retain above-average resale values just like other MINI models.
The base Clubman's standard features include air conditioning, leatherette upholstery, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, power windows, locks and doors, a cooled glovebox and P175/65R15 tires on alloy wheels. The S model adds sport seats, fog lamps, sport suspension and P195/55R16 tires. Safety features include dual front airbags, seat-mounted front side airbags, side-curtain airbags, a tire-pressure monitoring system, anti-lock 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. All MINIs have free maintenance for three years/36,000 miles.
The 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman can be personalized with numerous paint and interior trim options. Tech options include a universal garage door opener, HD radio, a Bluetooth cell phone link, MINI's Comfort Access keyless starting, xenon headlights, Sirius satellite radio with a lifetime subscription and a navigation system. Luxury items include heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control and three types of leather upholstery. A sport suspension, sport seats and 16- or 17-inch wheels are available for performance enthusiasts.
The Clubman is naturally sporty, but the Sport button adds another measure of excitement. Press the button and throttle response becomes more aggressive and the steering gets quicker; automatic-transmission models also get a performance-oriented shift program that holds gears longer. The Sport button makes a fun car even more fun.
The Clubman's passenger-side rear access door, which MINI calls a "Club Door," eases rear seat entry and exit. The extra length that makes the Club Door possible also makes the rear seat comfortable for two and adds useful rear cargo space.
Under the Hood
Both models have 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engines. Power in the base Clubman is adequate for most needs. The engine is peppier than its 118-horsepower figure would indicate and the power feels useful over 3,000 rpm. The turbocharged S model puts out 172 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque (192 pound-feet is available in short bursts via turbo overboost). There is very little turbo lag, making for smooth in-town driving. Both engines work well with the automatic transmission and the S model's paddle shifters are easy to use. The smooth-shifting six-speed manual offers enhanced driver interaction and lets you wring more out of the MINI's powerplant.
1.6-liter in-line 4
118 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
114 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/37 (manual), 26/34 (automatic)
1.6-liter turbocharged in-line 4
172 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34 (manual), 23/32 (automatic)
For the 2002 model year, BMW relaunched the MINI brand with the Cooper and Cooper S in the American market. It was redesigned for 2007, and both generations have earned rave reviews for go-kart-like driving dynamics, an efficient hatchback package and exemplary fuel economy. While the MINI Cooper strengthened America's acceptance of small cars, it was simply too small for many buyers, and the 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman rectifies that issue by offering a slightly larger package with more interior room. As with other MINIs, the Clubman is offered in base and turbocharged S models. The larger size adds much-needed rear-seat room and cargo space, but the shared drivetrains and body structure maintain the brand's fun-to-drive character. The Clubman's competitors include the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Volkswagen Rabbit, Mazda MAZDA3 and Audi A3.