Beyond flaunting its quirky looks, handy size and efficient 4-cylinder powerplant, the 4-passenger, 3-door 2012 MINI Cooper Clubman Base compact hatchback is just a hoot to drive. Better yet, some slightly larger proportions over its regular-size Cooper cousins allow for 32.8 cubic feet of total cargo room and rear seats that can fit 2 adults in quasi-comfort.
Outside, this entry-level Clubman boasts 15-inch alloy wheels mounting performance tires, as well as power-adjustable mirrors and a pair of side-opening rear cargo doors. Inside, this British-made hatchback sports leatherette upholstery, height-adjustable front seats, remote power door locks, power windows, and a rear-opening, passenger-side back door that allows easier entry to the second-row seating. Again, a trip computer, cruise control and telescoping tilt-wheel steering come standard in the Base trim, while air conditioning, a cooled storage bin and a leather steering wheel sporting audio and cruise controls are complemented by simulated alloy dashboard and console trim, as well as new-for-2012 front and rear floor mats. Finally, a single-CD player with 6 speakers is bolstered by satellite radio and auxiliary MP3 input.
Options for the 2012 Clubman Base include a veritable cornucopia of MINI Yours exterior and interior customizing selections that includes stripes, badges, colors and upgraded interior trim accents.
Various packages, meantime, include sport seats and steering wheel, upgraded 17-inch wheels, auto climate control, an electronic locking differential with driver-selectable settings, auto climate control, Damson leather upholstery, heated seats and heated outside mirrors. Then there’s an available navigation system that also includes MINI Connect iPhone apps, as well as a 480-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system that flaunts Surround Sound from 10 speakers, a 6.5-inch display and Bluetooth hands-free calling. Lastly, a power sunroof also remains available to the Base trim.
An okay 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine remains hooked to a standard 6-speed manual transmission to give this pint-size hatchback 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The stick shift, meantime, can be replaced with an available 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission that carries the same performance numbers, while variable valve timing (VVT) begets 27 mpg city/35 highway with either the stick shift or the automatic.
Notable standard safety features aboard the 2012 Clubman Base include 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front and rear head airbags, front side-mounted airbags and a post-collision safety system. Optional safety items include rear parking sensors, a remote antitheft alarm, rain-sensing wipers, dynamic traction control (DTC) and front fog/driving lights, all available in one or another of the numerous options packages.