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2018 Mini Clubman: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by AutoTrader May 2018

Here's a fun bit of trivia: the 2018 Mini Clubman is the only 6-door car on the market. While every other vehicle of its size and shape would be deemed a "hatchback," the Clubman doesn't actually have a hatch on its back. Instead, a unique pair of clam-shell doors make it something totally different ... and the only 6-door vehicle that's not a GM plumber's van.

Really, they're just one of the many ways the funky Clubman stands out from other vaguely similar cars. It's blessed with Mini's requisite quirkiness, fun-to-drive character, premium cabin quality and abundant customization options that will be familiar to any Mini fan. Yet, its larger and more useable back seat and cargo area give it a decided advantage over the smaller Mini Cooper 4-door hardtop. Essentially, if you've outgrown your Cooper, the Clubman is a good place to start. If you need something even bigger, there's always the Countryman.

So, there is an awful lot to like about the Clubman, but it literally comes at a price. Though its base price seems perfectly reasonable, a lot of desirable features are locked away in pricey packages and those custom-friendly upholsteries and trim upgrades don't come cheap. Climbing into the upper $30,000 range isn't difficult, which can be tough to justify given comparatively-priced luxury cars or comparatively-sized cheaper cars.

What's New for 2018?

A backup camera and rear parking sensors are now standard on every Clubman. Apple CarPlay and a driver inattention monitor have been added to the Technology package.

What We Like

Distinctive style inside and out; highly customizable; premium cabin; fun to drive; efficient engines; practical for a Mini; available all-wheel drive

What We Don't

Expensive for a car its size; compromised rear visibility; slow with base engine; limited availability of safety tech

How Much?

$24,800-$35,900

Fuel Economy

The base Cooper model uses a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder that makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 24 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined with the standard 6-speed manual and essentially the same with the optional 6-speed automatic. Optional ALL4 all-wheel drive lowers those figures to 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with the manual and 23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with the automatic.

Drivers who want more power can upgrade to the Cooper S Clubman, which boasts a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that's good for 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with the standard 6-speed manual and is better with the optional 8-speed automatic, coming in at 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. ALL4 lowers those figures to 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined and 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined, respectively.

The high-performance John Cooper Works has a version of the same 2.0-liter turbo-4 upgraded to produce 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with ALL4 and returns 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with the 6-speed manual and 23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with the optional 8-speed automatic.

Standard Features & Options

There are three versions of the 2018 Mini Clubman available: Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works. Each mostly differs by engine, though there are some feature content differences.

Base-level Cooper models ($24,800) come standard with 16-in alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, selectable drive modes, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, leatherette vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 6.5-in display with a console-mounted controller, HD radio, a USB port, various smartphone integration apps and a 6-speaker sound system.

The sporty Cooper S ($28,450) adds the more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, along with 17-in wheels, sportier styling details, foglights and front sport seats.

The John Cooper Works ($35,900) gets a more powerful version of the Cooper S engine, plus standard ALL4 all-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension, special styling details and a special upholstery consisting of cloth and simulated suede. It also gets 18-in wheels, LED headlights, a backup camera, rear parking sensors and keyless ignition and entry. These items are available on the other trims.

Options are in abundance. Many are available as either stand-alone options or within packages. The Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition and entry and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. The Cold Weather package adds heated front seats and auto-dimming mirrors. The Technology packages brings with it a driver inattention warning system, an 8.8-in center touchscreen, an upgraded center console controller, Apple CarPlay and integrated navigation. The Sport package (Cooper and Cooper S) add an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, LED foglights (Cooper S) and 17-in wheels (Cooper). The Fully Loaded package adds all of the above and is the only way to further opt for the Active Driving Assistant, which includes adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning with automatic braking.

You can also add separately 8-way power front seats with driver memory functions, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, a head-up display, satellite radio and a variety of upholstery, trim and exterior styling upgrades.

Safety

The 2018 Mini Cooper Clubman comes standard with front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control and a backup camera. A forward-collision warning with automatic braking is available, but only once the pricey Fully Loaded package is specified. It does not offer some common modern safety features like lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert or a blind spot monitoring system.

There has been no third-party crash tests of the Clubman at the time of this writing.

Behind the Wheel

If you've spent any time behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper, you'll expect the Clubman to offer a lot of driving enjoyment -- and it certainly delivers. Its larger size certainly dulls its agility, but its handling and steering are excellent in virtually all forms. While acceleration is lackluster in base models (134 hp just isn't a lot for a car this big), the Cooper S Clubman has some serious pop. The John Cooper Works is even better.

More importantly, the Clubman offers some practicality to go along with its performance. In back, the Clubman touts 2.5 more inches of legroom than in a standard Cooper model, which is no small feat. In the cargo area, there's an extra 3.5 cu ft., for a grand total of 47.9 cu ft. with the seats folded down. This size makes the Clubman comparable in size to a compact hatchback like the Mazda 3.

Of course, the Clubman is not a hatchback. It has a pair of swing-out doors that, while distinctively funky, do diminish rear visibility. They're also not the only funky thing about the Clubman, which boasts plenty of interior quirks like toggle switches and circular styling details that any Mini fan would immediately recognize. Thankfully, this style doesn't come with as much of a functional or quality penalty as the last Clubman did -- the cabin is more premium and less toylike. The addition of an optional touchscreen increases functionality further, since the console-mounted infotainment controller can be awkward to reach.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Volkswagen GTI and Golf R -- Given its size, performance, price tag, premium cabin and available all-wheel drive (Golf R), VW's hot hatches are the best point of comparison for the Clubman. It's bound to be cheaper when equally equipped.

2018 Audi A3 -- If you're just looking for a premium small car, the Audi A3 could be your best alternative to pricier Clubmans (Clubmen?). Although it effectively only comes as a sedan, the handsome A3 has a beautifully designed cabin, superb tech features and a refined driving experience.

2018 Mini Countryman -- Although we could suggest checking out the 4-door Mini Cooper, if you need the sort of space provided by the Clubman, it's also worth considering the Countryman compact SUV. The price is similar, you'll sit higher and have a more versatile cabin.

Read Mini Clubman vs Mini Countryman: What's the Difference?

Used BMW 3 Series Wagon -- This is a pretty good luxury car alternative to the Clubman given its superior driving dynamics, premium cabin and added versatility. It's also produced by the same company -- BMW. It'll cost more new, so considering a used or pre-owned model is recommended.

Autotrader's Advice

Order your car. Don't get stuck paying for stuff you don't want or a color combination that's not exactly your cup of Earl Grey. In one to two months, you can have the exact Mini Clubman you like -- you should even be able to get a similar price to one that's just sitting on a dealer lot. And if we were ordering, we'd go with the Cooper S Clubman. While we'd add a few options and extras, we'd try to stay around $32,000. Any more than that and it becomes a lot of money for what is effectively a compact hatchback -- no matter its many virtues (and door count).

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Mini Clubman: New Car Review - Autotrader