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2016 MINI Cooper Clubman -The Maxi MINI - Review By Larry Nutson

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2016 MINI Cooper Clubman - The Maxi MINI

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

We've all heard the saying that bigger is better. And, we have probably also wondered if that is truly always the case. There’s been a general trend in car design these days to make new models longer, lower and wider.

MINI is in-trend and the once mini MINI is a bit larger. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m not talking about the original Mini, but the revived version that’s been on the market for over ten years now.

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For comparison, I just so happened to have captured an image of two Minis parked very appropriately on the streets of Paris. Now you get the picture even better.

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The 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman is the biggest of what MINI has to offer. That bigness gives it 4-doors and seating for five and a rear cargo area that can grow from 17.5 cuft to 47.9cuft. Some refer to the Clubman has a hatchback, but it doesn’t actually have a top-hinged rear hatch. MINI says it has two doors in the rear. They’re side-hinged barn door style. EPA calls it a midsize car. I think of it as a small wagon. I guess it’s each to his own.

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I found the Clubman quite suitable and comfortable for my medium build during various around town and highway jaunts. The weather was moderate so I wasn’t wearing a big zero-degree-day winter coat. I felt however that the Clubman provided enough room even if I was. Rear passenger doors make it easy to load small parcels and things like a briefcase.

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My wife and I did a long highway day trip and thought the MINI to be comfortable with good support from the seats and enough interior room to not feel cramped. At one rest stop two other road travelers commented on the nice design and overall good looks of the MINI and were impressed by the rear cargo room in what can be thought of, at first look, as small car.

I demonstrated the rear cargo door which is power opening with a button push on the key fob.

The highway ride of the MINI is a bit choppy and firm due to its short, relatively speaking, wheelbase and “go-kart handling” sporty suspension tuning combined with the summer rated 45-series tires.

There’s two engine choices on the Clubman. The Cooper model is powered by a 3-cylinder turbo 1.5-L that puts out 134HP. It can be had with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. My media loan test car was the Cooper with automatic.


The Cooper is not a rocket and according to MINI it gets from stop to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds with either transmission. EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 25 city mpg and 35 highway mpg with the manual. The automatic is EPA test-cycle rated the same in the city lab test and one mpg less in the highway test. I thought performance was OK, however I was mostly driving around alone or together with my wife on relatively flat terrain. Highway merging and passing was handled just fine.

The other choice is the Cooper S and that comes with a 4-cylinder turbo 2.0-L engine rated at 189HP. This is paired to either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. MINI says the automatic will go from stop to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, and the manual tacks on a tenth more. The best EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are with the automatic at 24 city mpg and 34 highway mpg. The manual is rated at 22 and 32, respectively.

If I were buying I would choose the Cooper S model just to have the added performance available when also carrying folks in the rear seat and a lot of stuff in the cargo area. EPA ratings are all fairly close and it usually turns out the driver him/herself, weather conditions and terrain are the biggest influences on what fuel consumption you achieve.

By the way, both engines are certified as low emission vehicles. Besides being “green”, driving a Clubman might just get you a closer parking space if you work in a LEED certified building that provides closer-in parking for employees driving low emission vehicles.

A Driver Mode system lets you select a Sport or Green mode over the normal setting.

While I’m on the engine subject, the Clubman is equipped with a start/stop system that shuts the engine off when you come to a stop, for example at a traffic light. MINI has a switch to turn off this feature and what I really like is that it stays off. When you shut off the engine and restart it the stop/start system does not default back to being in operation. Stop/start does save fuel but in some driving situations it can be disturbing.

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Prices for the 2016 Clubman are $24,100 for the Cooper and $27,650 for the Cooper S. Automatic adds $1500 and the destination charge is $850.

The Clubman has a huge array of options to pick from---MINI says millions of combinations, including a John Cooper Works interior package and exterior package, Sport, Technology and Premium packages plus 16-, 17-, 18-, or 19-inch wheels. There’s a myriad of colors, trims and accent-colors too.

MINI is right there with the offering of optional driver assistance systems. They include the Head-Up Display which extends above the steering column, the Driving Assistant system including camera-based active cruise control, collision and pedestrian warning with initial brake function, high beam assistant, road sign detection, Parking Assistant and rear view camera.

At the recent New York International Auto Show the new MINI Clubman ALL4 was introduced. With its power transmission to all four wheels, the new MINI Clubman ALL4 combines all the advantages of an all-wheel drive system – traction, directional stability and driving – with classic MINI go-kart handling. It’s priced starting at $25,900.  

Of note is that MINI was honored by J.D. Power in its 2016 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. The brand ranked #1 among mass market brands in customer satisfaction.

More info and specs on the entire MINI model range can be found at You can compare the Clubman to other compact segment cars right here at

I’ve had a fair amount of experience driving various MINI models on the track and in autocross events at the Spring and Fall Rallies put on by the Midwest Automotive Media Association, of which I am a member. MINI’s go-kart handling is something I like and this recent experience driving the Clubman for an extensive period on public roads reinforced how MINIs fit in very well with real-world living. The MINI is fun to drive and very agile keeping you engaged as a driver.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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