My test 2010 Mini Cooper S Clubman has a very unique exterior paint color which is referred to simply as “Hot Chocolate.” And much like that tasty hot beverage that goes so well with itsy-bitsy marshmallows, this hot rod wagon is sweet, tasty and gets you just a little bit high every time you drive it. This surprisingly roomy wagon-let is so fun to drive it should really be labeled by the government as a controlled substance.
While some Mini purists were aghast at the notion that Mini was turning the cute little two door coupe into a two and a half-door wagon, time has definitely mellowed those concerns once they realized the Clubman drives just like any other Mini. In fact, thanks to the longer wheelbase it actually has a smoother ride (not to mention rear seat legroom for actual humans).
The 2010 Mini Cooper S Clubman maintains many traditional Mini design cues like the wide “bulldog” stance, smiling front headlight/grille treatment, chromed door handles and old school chrome effect gas cap cover. What sets the Clubman apart are the clever barn-style rear doors that open one at a time for easy access to the surprisingly roomy cargo area.
The other unique aspect of the Clubman is the third door on the passenger side that aids entry and exit to the rear seats. This mini doggie door (more on that later) allows easy entry and exit to the rear seats. There may not be a ton of legroom in the back but at least in the Clubman two adults can ride back there in relative comfort for short distances.
When closed, the third door is barely noticeable as panel gaps and shut-lines are impressively tiny. Overall, the exterior of the Mini Cooper S Clubman makes a uniquely sporting and utilitarian design statement that you can’t find anywhere else.
The dashboard of the Mini Cooper Clubman S is dominated by this gigantic central speedometer located dead center in the middle. Thankfully, however, the tachometer pod gauge that sits right in front of the driver has a digital speed readout setting so you don’t always have to look to your right to make sure you aren’t speeding. And in the Cooper S Clubman you will be speeding whether you like it or not.
My test model had the optional panoramic sunroof which allows tons of natural light into the entire interior (which was also hued very close in color to the “Hot Chocolate” brown exterior). The entire interior is made of highly durable plastics and the seat fabric in my tester is easy to clean and appears tear resistant.
The only complaints are with the logic behind some of the minor controls. While the climate control system is intuitive, the stereo controls seem like they were designed with the sole intention of making the owner feel stupid. For instance, there are two identically sized knobs one on top of the other to adjust volume and for tuning/CD track adjustment.
None of the stereo buttons or knobs are clearly marked and even after getting used to the system it still feels utterly counterintuitive. The worst part? Those aforementioned stereo knobs feel like they are made out of plastic that would be rejected by Barbie for use in her Malibu Barbie Dream car.
Otherwise there are a surprising number of storage nooks and crannies what with two gloveboxes, a center armest storage area, surprisingly deep door pockets, 5 cupholders that I counted, indented storage cubbies in the rear barn doors and a false floor under the rear cargo area. If you are currently driving a small SUV you would probably be surprised at how easily the Mini Cluman swallowed all of your junk and was able to fill your cargo hauling needs.
My test Mini Cooper S Clubman came with the Sport Package which firms up the ride (a little too much I would say) and also had a strut tower brace over the engine that totally eliminated any body roll in corners. The steering rack is very quick so if you are used to pretty much any other car it can take a while to get used to how little steering input you have to use to turn this car. The turning circle is positively minute making the Mini Cooper S Clubman the perfect shopping mall companion.
The 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in the S pumps out 172 horsepower and gives ample acceleration even with the automatic. Power is available at all engine speeds and this motor still returns 34 miles per gallon highway. One negative is the ever present nature of torque steer: stomp on the gas and the steering wheel will tug to the side as a result of all that power going through the front wheels. But as with anything you do get used to this little Mini quirk.
But in spite of the torque steer, every trip in your Mini Cooper Clubman S will become not a duty or responsibility but rather an adventure. You will seek out new long ways to get to the mall so you can enjoy the precision handling, giddy acceleration and stout braking. The Cooper S Clubman may be the more practical Mini variant but it is still every inch a driver’s car. Just try to drive one without grinning like an idiot.
Equipment and Options
You really can go crazy with the options on your Mini Cooper S Clubman and to get a nicely equipped version the price usually gets close to $30,000 once you add one of the special interior seating fabrics/leather, automatic (manual transmission is standard), a panoramic sunroof, upgraded alloy wheels, multi-function steering wheel with audio controls, navigation and so on. Basics like a decent stereo with aux-input and CD, climate control, power windows, power door locks and power mirrors are all standard as is the one of a kind Mini driving experience.
For more information and to see how many ways you can personalize your Mini, be sure to check out their website at Miniusa.com. You can specify a Mini Cooper S Clubman down to the last option but it takes about two months for the factory in England to build it and then ship it to the United States. Check with your local Mini dealer for details.
How Dog Friendly is It?
This vehicle was practically designed for dogs. Why else would Mini build the interior out of sturdy fabrics, leathers and plastics and offer that third half-door with the Clubman? Even though you can fit two people in the back seat of the Clubman, the third door truly makes the most sense as a “doggie door.”
Lord knows it makes entry and exit easier for the owner of this test Cooper S Clubman-a dog named Peyton who was adopted from the L.A. Boxer Rescue and is now the proud protector of his own Mini. Also, as Peyton is a shade of “Hot Chocolate” brown himself, his fur doesn’t show up very much in the back seat making this test Clubman often look cleaner than it actually is. Not that you need to color coordinate your Mini with your dog but at least you know that you can.
Why Should I Pick the Clubman over the Coupe?
If you have more than one friend or a dog (or dogs) that just love to go for rides with you, then the Clubman really makes a much more practical choice. If you are just looking for a weekend toy to use for teacup rides with your significant other by all means buy the coupe. But if you want a Mini that you can use as a daily driver the Cooper S Clubman is really your only choice.
Vehicle Tested: 2010 Mini Cooper S Clubman
Prices Starting at: $24,750
Engine: 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Power: 172 horsepower/177 lb. feet of torque
Economy: 26 city/34 highway
Cargo Space: 9.2 cubic feet
Rear Seats Folded: 32.8 cubic feet
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic (6-Speed Manual is Standard)
0-60: 6.7 seconds (manufacturer)
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION:
The Contributor was given a gift or sample to inform this content.