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Car Review - 2017 MINI Cooper S Clubman All4 By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2017 MINI Cooper S Clubman All4
ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 189 hp @ 5,000 rpm/207 lb.-ft. @ 1,250 rpm
WHEELBASE: 105.1 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 169.8 x 71.7 x 61.3 in.
TIRES: P225/45R19
CARGO CAPACITY: 17.5/47.6 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down) 
ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway/21.8 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 16.1 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,450 lbs.
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Jeep Cherokee. Nissan Juke, Kia Sportage
STICKER: $35,850 (includes $850 delivery, $5,250 options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Mini Cooper Clubman is probably the nicest Mini I have driven. It has better aesthetics and more practicality for a compelling package.

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Over the years I have had a tortuous relationship with MINIs, primarily because of their quirkiness. While I have always appreciated their efficient use of space, even from the beginning when they were really minis, through the “middle years” when the car evolved into slightly larger variants like the MG1100. Maybe I would have had a less strained relationship if my wife had let me buy one, especially the MG1100. But she wisely didn’t.

Now MINIs are built by BMW and for years I have ranted about the centrally mounted speedometer. Voila! The MINI Clubman has a speedometer located where it should be, in front of the driver. In the middle of the dash, where the speedometer used to be, is a huge round infotainment center. It’s still a bit large for my tastes, but it is complete.

The most intriguing aspect of the Clubman is that it is a station wagon. A small one, true, but a station wagon nonetheless. The twin rear doors can be operated using the key fob or by placing your foot under the middle of the rear bumper. The right door opens first, then a second application opens the left door. 

I naturally assumer that with small doors and a small car, cargo capacity would also be small. It ain’t. With the second row seats up, there are 17.5 cubic feet of storage; 47.6 cubic feet with the seats down. It is one of those cargo areas that never seems to fill. There is additional storage under the cargo floor and in the cute rear doors, and six tiedowns to secure cargo.

The new Clubman is 12.4 inches longer than the previous edition. It’s also wider, which aids the handling. Since the previous Clubman only had two doors, the extra doors take up much of the extra length.

The prime feature of any MINI is its “go-kart” handling. The Clubman doesn’t disappoint. Fortunately, it isn’t true go-kart handling, because the rock-hard suspension of a go-kart can get old quickly. But the Clubman’s softened suspension absorbs most road irregularities, although some road noise does untrue into the cabin occasionally. 

Old habits die hard, and the Clubman still has some quirks. For example, MINI refuses to have flat pushbuttons and knobs like other manufacturers to reduce “second collision” injuries, but retains toggle switches. The main one os the start/stop switch in the center of the strip along the base of the center stack. Two other toggles join the start/stop, but all have mini roll bars around them should  second collision occur. Above the rear view mirror are four more toggles for interior lights, all with roll bars around them.

Another quirk is the audio system. It stays on even when you shut off the engine and exit the car and close the door. Only when you lock the doors does it turn off. While it’s a pain, it’s also a good reminder to lock the doors when you leave the car.

Unlock the doors using the fob and a MINI logo lights the ground by the doors. All four door handles also light up. 

A good feature is the extra sun visor mounted over the driver’s door that helps block the sun when it’s on that side.

Front seats are comfortable with good side support in the kidney area. Because of the Clubman’s diminutive size, entering and exiting can be a challenge, but once you’re installed, they are great. Three assist handles aid entry and egress. Exiting his a minor problem with the interior door handles. They blend in quite well with the rest of the door. Once you find them the first time, finding them again isn’t a problem.

Rear seat legroom os okay, but there’s only room for two passengers back there, even if MINI does claim there’s room for three.

Rear passengers have air controls for the HVAC system, but the temperature is still under control of whomever is sitting up front.

As you may have guessed, the MINI Clubman and I no longer have a tortuous relationship. If you’re in the market for a smaller wagon with very good handling, this might be on your “let’s look at this one” list.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

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