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Overview (Final Score: C)

The MINI Cooper is an icon of British motoring that still plies the roads today, although in a more modern form and under a German nameplate. The 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman has been completely redesigned from its preceding generation, becoming much bigger as a result. The new Clubman is a full 10 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the MINI Cooper coupe, so the design is now well beyond the limo stretch that marked the Clubman model before.

This added girth means a lot more interior space, particularly in the back seats, and better handling for the added length. Sadly, the engines are still a bit underpowered, carrying over straight off of the Cooper coupe.

On the other hand, this more practical MINI still retains the brand’s unique styling, fun factor and quirky attitude. For that, and for those who love that, only a MINI will do.

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What We Love About the 2016 BMW MINI Cooper Clubman:

  • All the quirkiness of the MINI brand is included.
  • Fun handling despite its girth.
  • Great back seat experience with this larger model.

 

What We Don’t Love About the 2016 BMW MINI Cooper Clubman:

  • Fuel economy and performance are below par.
  • Cargo capacity is still lacking and access can be an issue.
  • Pricey for the amenities offered.

 

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

From the front seats, the 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman isn’t much different from its hatchback coupe sibling. The controls layout, seating, and roominess are all about the same. With an exception: things are a bit more spread out and feel less cramped thanks to the slightly wider stance of the Clubman model. Accoutrements and materials quality, both of which are of quality, are also the same, though seem a bit more refined in the Clubman – most likely thanks again to the wider spacing. The uniquely functional round air vents are gone, but the aircraft switches and well-bolstered seating are still good things inside the MINI Clubman.

The rear seating is where big changes have happened. The stretched four-door Clubman model has back seats capable of carrying full adults and the extra doors to make getting in and out of them realistic for daily use. Small families with children will appreciate the low doors and easy access the rear seating in the MINI Clubman gives to children.

One downer is the cargo space, however, which isn’t very large compared to some in this five-door segment, standing at 17.5 cubic feet. The unique outward-swinging double doors are fun, but not always practical. They require a heavy hand to slam shut as well. The flat floor is great, but the swinging doors and low roof make loading anything bulky unlikely. Even a bicycle would be tough to stuff inside a MINI Clubman. Cargo is expanded a bit with the split-fold rear seats down, getting up to 48 cubic feet or so.

All told, though, the quality and feel of the 2016 BMW MINI Cooper Clubman’s interior is good and comfort is excellent in four of the five seating positions.

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Technology (9/10)

The tech inside the 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman model centers on the Mini Connected infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display on the console. An upgrade takes that display to 8 inches and adds navigation.

Both are branded versions of BMW’s iDrive interface, which works very well. The menu system can be a bit deliberate, however, and may have a bit of a learning curve as users figure out where things might be in those menus. For the most part, though, it’s an easy system to master and is made even more so by the command knob below the shifter.

Fuel Economy (7/10)

For such a small vehicle, the MINI Clubman returns relatively poor fuel economy for the segment. The 1.5-liter engine option boasts 28 mpg combined, per the EPA, with 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the automatic.

The upgraded 2.0-liter engine returns even poorer fuel economy at 27 mpg combined (24 city, 34 highway) with the automatic transmission. The manual dips down to 26 mpg combined (22/32).

In the real world, a MINI with the 2.0-liter engine and manual transmission achieved 22 mpg all told after over 300 miles of driving.

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Performance (8/10)

The Clubman comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine in its base configuration. This engine outputs 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed manual transmission as standard or a six-speed automatic as an upgrade option. These both power the front wheels. With a 0-60 mph time estimated at only about 9 seconds and not much umph going on, this engine is underpowered for the Clubman’s size.

The upgrade with the S model, as we drove it, is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission powering the front wheels. An optional eight-speed automatic is also available. This configuration with its higher torque value is much peppier than the three-cylinder option, but still only manages about 7 seconds on a 0-60 mph sprint.

The 2.0L engine does offer more get-up for the go, but the 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman is still generally sluggish to drive when compared with its smaller coupe counterparts. Handling is spirited, however, but brings with it a rough ride in the S edition. Most MINI enthusiasts will likely be disappointed in the overall driving experience with the Clubman model.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (61/80, 76%)

The 2016 BMW MINI Cooper Clubman is a unique, fun and style-centric little car. The extra doors add some practicality for those who cannot get by with a hatchback coupe. The car itself is longer and wider than the Cooper coupe and thus much more usable for everyday needs, but still misses some of the practicality that might be implied.

Shoppers comparing with other brands might note that the Volkswagen Golf offers better performance and practicality and at a lower price point. Similarly, the Fiat 500X offers unique style and fun with a bit more practicality included in the mix. Although it’s pricier, those looking for a bit more pep in their drive might enjoy the BMW X1, which offers more practicality as well.

In the end, there’s only one MINI brand and the Clubman is the biggest of the options for that brand. It retains most of the MINI’s quirks and fun – enough so that most MINI fans will not feel slighted when the upgrade to accommodate growing interior space requirements in their lifestyle.

Read the FULL REVIEW Now to get more expert tips on the 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman’s safety, reliability, exterior and pricing.

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