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2010 MINI Cooper Clubman ReviewThe Good
The 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman showcases an appealing blend of performance and practicality, while retaining the fetching styling that has made this brand famous again.The Bad
A lack of attention to ergonomic details and a high price (especially with options) leave the 2010 Cooper Clubman at a disadvantage when compared with more value-oriented competitors.
The CarGurus View
Exuding a classy British charm, the 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman sets itself apart in the normally staid small-car segment. Featuring a longer wheelbase, barn-style rear doors, and a rear-hinged half-door on the passenger side, the Clubman offers the sporty, BMW-influenced handling of the regular MINI Cooper with additional space for passengers and cargo. While the price is rather dear and the interior is confusingly laid out, the Cooper Clubman’s combination of high style and European performance holds undeniable appeal.
At a Glance
Little changed for 2010, the MINI Cooper Clubman continues to offer buyers an up-market small car that looks and drives like a much more expensive vehicle while still offering excellent fuel economy. The Clubman model was introduced in 2008 as a stretched version of the original MINI Cooper for those who needed more space than the tiny hatchback could deliver. The Clubman is nearly 10 inches longer than the regular Cooper and features much-improved (though still not lounge-like) rear legroom. Access to the back seat is provided by a small half-door on the passenger side. The bread-van profile and novel split rear "barn doors" make cargo carrying a breeze; the Clubman can fit a lot more gear than its small size would suggest.
For 2010 the Cooper Clubman is offered in three trim levels; Base, S, and John Cooper Works. Base trims are powered by a naturally aspirated inline four-cylinder (I4) and feature such conveniences as standard power windows and locks, air-conditioning, and cruise control. The mid-level S trim gets a more powerful turbocharged engine and 16-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tires. Top-line John Cooper Works (JCW) Clubmans are geared toward performance buyers and feature an even more powerful turbo engine along with a host of suspension and drivetrain revisions that elevate the MINI’s already stellar handling.
The engineering for all MINI vehicles is done by BMW; the highly regarded German automaker’s influence is evident throughout the 2010 Clubman. Its four-cylinder engines are responsive and make good power, especially with turbo. Handling is extremely good, with sharp electrically assisted steering and a balanced chassis. All MINI Cooper Clubmans drive the front wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters (not offered in the John Cooper Works trim).
All MINI Cooper Clubmans feature a comprehensive free scheduled-maintenance program and an extensive warranty. The peace of mind offered by this unique program should offset some of the sticker shock that can afflict visitors to MINI showrooms. The Cooper Clubman is not cheap, especially compared with more pedestrian (yet quite capable) offerings from Japan like the Mazda3. Optional equipment gets expensive in a hurry, and buyers looking to experience the handling of the John Cooper Works edition will have to fork over more than $31,000 for the privilege. Yet the 2010 Cooper Clubman delivers a decidedly up-market combination of style and performance that more than justifies its premium price for those buyers seeking more than basic transportation.
All 2010 Cooper Clubmans share the same basic engine architecture, a 1.6-liter SOHC all-aluminum inline four-cylinder (I4) with 16 valves. Base trim levels have no forced induction and produce 118 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. While it revs quickly and enjoys being run hard, the non-turbo four is just too small to deliver thrilling performance, though acceleration is adequate with a light load. Clubman S trims get a turbocharger that bumps horsepower to 172 and torque to 177 lb-ft, making for much more sprightly acceleration. The top-dog Clubman John Cooper Works trim level ups the ante further, with a higher-pressure turbo motor that develops 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. The JCW edition feels much quicker, with a powerful midrange punch when the turbo kicks in.
The standard transmission across the Clubman range is a slick six-speed manual gearbox built by specialist Getrag. Featuring oh-so-smooth shift throws and a light, easily modulated clutch, this transmission is a joy to operate. Optional in Base and S Clubmans is a competent six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. While the slushbox is responsive and shifts intuitively, it greatly dampens the terrier-like enthusiasm that MINIs are known for. An optional limited-slip front differential (standard on JCW Clubmans) improves cornering behavior when on the power and tamps down any trace of torque steer.
Fuel economy is a MINI strong point, and the Clubman’s slick wagon shape delivers 28 mpg in the city and an impressive 36 mpg on the highway for Base trims with the manual transmission. The automatic-equipped version gets 25 mpg city and 33 highway. The turbo motor drops the Clubman S to a still-impressive 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with the stick and 24/32 with the automatic.
Ride & Handling
All Cooper Clubmans share the regular Cooper’s four-wheel independent suspension. This MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear setup is well-balanced and sophisticated, with distinctly European tuning. The light curb weight and firm suspension combine with nicely weighted electric power steering to produce crisp turn in and high grip limits. Balance is excellent, and only a trace of the understeer inherent to front-wheel-drive vehicles is present.
Ride quality in the Cooper Clubman is firmer than in most small cars, a tradeoff for its sporty handling. While Base Clubmans ride on 15-inch wheels that provide a little extra cushioning, S and JCW trims feature low-profile tires that impart a harder edge to the suspension. While the extra starch may be appreciated by performance-minded drivers, it might be off-putting to those seeking a more comfortable ride on uneven pavement. Four-wheel disc brakes (vented in front) feature standard ABS control and bring the Cooper Clubman to stop quickly and with a minimum of drama.
Cabin & Comfort
The expanded dimensions of the Cooper Clubman allow for a much-needed increase in interior space. Front legroom and headroom remains decent, while elbow and shoulder room is still constrained by the relatively narrow platform. In the rear legroom is substantially increased, finally allowing adults to ride in at least some degree of comfort. Entry and egress to the back row is made easier by the small passenger-side half-door. Cargo space is surprisingly plentiful - with a flat load floor and a folding rear seat, the Clubman can carry quite a bit of gear.
The Cooper Clubman shares its dash with the regular Cooper, and while the stylish, chrome-trimmed design enlivens the interior, it is an ergonomic disaster. The center-mounted speedometer is difficult to read and requires drivers to take their eyes off the road. Controls for everything from the radio to the lights are illogically placed, and the toggle switch design hinders operation. On the plus side the seating position is good, with multi-adjustable buckets and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The seats themselves are comfortable, supportive, and clad in reasonably convincing imitation leather (real cowhide is optional).
Even Base Clubmans get power accessories, cruise control, and air-conditioning standard. A 6-speaker stereo with AM/FM and CD is standard and features an auxiliary input, but audiophiles will want to upgrade to the optional Harman Kardon system, which pumps 480 watts through 10 speakers. The options list is extensive but also expensive. The Clubman can be equipped with a power two-pane sunroof, heated leather seats, automatic climate control, a navigation system, and even rain-sensing wipers. Yet adding all these bells and whistles substantially increases the sticker price and erodes the MINI’s small-car value.
For 2010 all Cooper Clubmans get a host of standard safety equipment. Dual front, side, and curtain airbags are included, along with seatbelt pre-tensioners. The standard antilock brakes feature electronic brakeforce distribution and corner brake control. While the 2010 Cooper Clubman has yet to be crash-tested by the government, the regular MINI Cooper model has and performed well for a small car, earning a four-star rating.
What Owners Think
Owners of the MINI Cooper Clubman are universal in their praise for its sparkling handling and cute yet grown-up styling. The extra interior space is appreciated by most, though some with families still wish for more room. Complaints center on the poor dash ergonomics and an occasional rattle from the interior.
by Jesse Berger
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MINI Cooper Clubman Questions
Warranty When Buying A Used Mini Clubman??
I am buying a 2010 Mini Clubman from a dealer this week. Should I buy the warranty with it? Normally I don't go for these things but the manufacturer's warranty only lasts for about another 10,000 m...
Timing Chain Is Made With Plastic Parts?
A local repair shop (not dealer) has been handling the routine maintenance on my 2010 Mini Cooper S Clubman. They recently warned me that the timing chain should be reworked/replaced as the vehicle n...
Can You Remove Rails On Top?
I'm buying a clubman s with rails and I don't want them.