- Good: Smooth, efficient, and potent powertrain, fun quirks, quality feel.
- Bad: Front-end styling, pricey option packages, numb steering.
- DM Take: A practical and efficient five-seat that will still spark conversation years into ownership.
What you need to know: The 2020 Mini Cooper Clubman is the middle child of Mini’s vehicle lineup. It’s larger than the Cooper Hardtop but smaller than the Countryman despite sharing underpinnings with the later (as well as BMW’s X1 and X2). It comes in two engine configurations (S and JCW), two transmissions (six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic), and can be had with all-wheel drive. This S model with the DCT (automatic) makes 189 horsepower and gets around 30 mpg in mixed driving. It’s good for someone who wants a nimble car with a spunky edge that can still seat five people and some cargo.
Cars like the 2020 Mini Cooper S Clubman are worthy of recognition just on the basis of being different. Despite the fact that one can choose from thousands of models and submodels for a new car, there really only needs to be a handful. Narrow the market down to any auto magazine’s “Best Of” list, and people could still find all they need in a new car. Jalopnik made light of this recently in an article titled, “Here Are The Only Six Cars That Should Be Sold.” So while the Mini Clubman isn’t likely to make it on any of these lists, it exists because we as first-world consumers insist on having choices.
The 2020 Mini Cooper S Clubman, which will from now on be referred to as the Clubman, takes full advantage of the freedom to be different. The front end sports a face that a mother can love while others simply nod and avoid comment. The rest of the design is clean, however, with Coral Red Metallic paint, a black roof, and stylish wheels. The rear is the most fun part of the exterior, featuring Clubman-exclusive split-open doors. Other fun aspects of note: two mini rear windshield wipers and half Union Jacks in the taillights.
The Clubman’s interior is nicely finished. This model featured Satellite Grey premium leather, but four other colors are available. Mini managed to blend style and sensible usability together so that buttons are easy to find and use while still looking nice. The toggle switches are an especially nice touch as opposed to boring regular buttons. Many new vehicles have ambient lighting, but the Clubman takes it up a notch with extravagant lighting designs in the doors and center panel. All materials feel good to touch and have a coherent design theme. The seats have multiple adjustments including thigh support and four-way lumbar. They have a good amount of side bolstering, but not so much to inhibit ingress or get uncomfortable on long trips. Altogether, the Clubman’s cabin was really well thought out.
Back seats and cargo are also surprisingly competent. Two adults would have no problem riding in the second row for a few hours at a time, and with all the seats up, there’s still significant room in the trunk. It’s not as large as most crossovers, but considering the vehicle’s footprint and the way it drives, it’s an efficient package.
On the topic of driving, the Mini Clubman S is satisfying in all areas but one. The chassis is strong, the engine is potent, the exhaust note is grunty, but the steering is very muted. One of our favorite descriptions is “woolly.” When you turn the wheel, you can’t feel in your hands when the tires actually begin to turn on the pavement. It makes for a disconnected feeling for an otherwise crisp and competent driving experience.
Altogether, the Mini Cooper S Clubman was a pleasant surprise. We were initially excited to get behind the wheel because Minis are a nice break from your average new car. But after spending some days living with it, the Clubman proved to be a legitimately valuable vehicle. It’s fun, practically proportioned, unique, and efficient. Our test model was certainly on the pricey side at $40,600, but the Clubman starts at $31,750, which is absolutely reasonable for a sporty car with a luxury touch. If you’re looking for a hot hatch from left field, we very much recommend the Mini Clubman.