If you’re looking for a Mini with a practical flair, you might be considering the Clubman, a more everyday, usable vehicle than the traditional model. But with the 2016 Mini Clubman getting a full redesign and some major changes compared to the outgoing model, which one should you get?
To help you decide, we’ve taken a closer look at the differences between the 2014 model and the 2016 (Mini skipped the 2015 model year). Here’s what we think.
The biggest differences between the outgoing Mini Clubman and the new model are immediately apparent on the outside. Not only does the new model offer Mini’s latest look, which includes updated front and rear ends and a larger overall profile, but it also touts new rear doors. Gone are the Clubman’s signature rear-hinged back doors, replaced by traditional front-hinged doors. Other major changes include larger taillights, now placed on the doors themselves, and an increased overall length.
Inside, the Clubman’s changes aren’t quite as dramatic as updates to its exterior. The most obvious revision will be passenger space, as the new Clubman boasts more of it — especially in back, thanks to its increased length and larger rear doors.
Up front, however, the Clubman largely retains the outgoing model’s dashboard design, just with many details freshened. While new items include the climate controls, the climate vents, the center screen, the gauge cluster and generally enhanced materials, Mini fans will find themselves right at home inside the new Clubman if they’ve spent time in the outgoing model.
The new Clubman offers updated engines compared to the outgoing model. In the old base-level Clubman, Mini offered a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 121 horsepower, while the Cooper S touted a turbocharged version of that same engine with 181 hp. Topping the range was the high-performance John Cooper Works model, which offered a tuned version of the turbocharged engine that produced 208 hp.
In the new Clubman, the base-level powertrain is a 134-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder, while Cooper S versions boast a 189-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The John Cooper Works version has yet to make a comeback, though we suspect it’ll return in the next year or two.
Although power outputs haven’t changed much, the new Clubman is a lot more responsive than its predecessor. Unfortunately, fuel economy isn’t as strong, likely a result of the latest Clubman’s increased size and weight.
Features & Technology
Given that Mini’s target market is up on the latest trends and technology, it should come as no surprise that the newest model offers a lot more equipment than the outgoing version. New features include an automated parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control, a larger center screen, additional stereo speakers, LED headlights and more. This one isn’t even close: Technophiles will vastly prefer the latest Clubman to the outgoing model.
On the road, the latest Clubman isn’t quite as spry as the 2014 around corners, likely a function of its larger size and increased weight. But it adds a lot more practicality and takes only a slight penalty for driving experience, which isn’t a bad trade-off. Under full acceleration, the new Clubman is just as quick as the outgoing model, if not a little quicker, despite its increased curb weight.
More impressive is the latest Mini’s overall comfort. The new model feels a lot more refined than the outgoing version, touting a smoother ride, better in-cabin materials and less engine and road noise. Between this, the larger interior and the longer list of high-end equipment, the latest Clubman feels a lot more grown-up than its predecessor. But don’t get us wrong: It’s still just as eager to get up and go as ever before.
Neither the latest Clubman nor the previous version has been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The latest MINI Cooper, however, earned four stars out of five from the NHTSA and secured a coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS. Given the similarities between the Clubman and the standard Mini, we suspect these ratings will carry over.
As for safety features, both Clubman models offer everything you’d expect, including side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control with stability control. But the new model touts a few additional features, from adaptive cruise control to forward-collision warning and automatic forward-collision braking. Between those features and the latest Mini’s strong crash-test results, we suspect the new model is a better choice for drivers who especially prioritize safety.
Although many new models are just subtle evolutions of their predecessors, that isn’t the case with the 2016 Mini Clubman. The latest version offers a dramatically different design, more interior room, far more equipment and completely different powertrains. Although we don’t have anything especially bad to say about the outgoing Clubman, we strongly prefer the new one — and we think you will, too.