2018 MINI Clubman Review

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The original Clubman was a slightly stretched version of the Mini Hardtop with a reverse-opening side passenger door and a distinctive swing-out tailgate arrangement. The latest-generation Clubman takes a more conventional approach to car design, though. Regular rear doors take the place of the reverse-opening one, and it’s now significantly larger than the four-door Hardtop. It’s 3 inches wider; it rides on a wheelbase that’s 4 inches longer; and it’s nearly a foot longer end to end. Predictably, these changes have resulted in a lot more weight, and the Clubman feels blunted somewhat as a result.

2018 MINI Clubman Review

Yet the Clubman rides better than the Hardtop, and it will carry a lot more. Life is full of compromises, and this car is an example of that. At least the trim levels on offer don’t hold anything back: You can option out a Clubman in a variety of ways to suit a variety of dispositions. At the base end, the Cooper sips the least fuel to the tune of 27 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The fastest Clubman is the John Cooper Works. But we reckon the sweet spot in the range is the Cooper S, which balances performance with value.

What’s new on 2018 MINI Clubman

For 2018, the Mini Clubman is essentially unchanged aside from minor tweaks to feature content availability.

We recommend buying 2018 MINI Clubman

The extra punch of the more powerful engine in the Cooper S gives it the edge over the base Cooper, and you’ll notice the difference in freeway passing maneuvers. While the premium audio and keyless entry are nice features in the Premium package, they come bundled with a panoramic sunroof of which we’re not fans. Fortunately, those two features can be added as stand-alone options. The Technology package is the only way to get Apple CarPlay, but it comes with other desirable features such as a larger touchscreen with navigation, plus a parking aid.

2018 MINI Clubman Trim levels & features 

The 2018 Mini Clubman is for people who love the driving and handling characteristics of a Mini but need more rear-seat room and cargo space than the four-door Hardtop model provides. It’s available in three trims that are mostly differentiated by the engine lying underhood. The Cooper and Cooper S are relatively close in price, while the John Cooper Works version is significantly pricier (though its list of additional performance items is impressive). A staggering number of styling, performance and luxury upgrades are available on all models.

Powering the Cooper is a turbocharged three-cylinder engine (134 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque) paired to your choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s got a ton of standard features, including 16-inch alloy wheels, run-flat tires, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, selectable driving modes, height-adjustable front seats, simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat and multicolor ambient lighting. Among the standard tech items are Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch central display, smartphone app integration, a rearview camera, and a six-speaker sound system with HD radio and a USB port.

Stepping up to the Cooper S adds a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (189 hp, 207 lb-ft) mated to the six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic (steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are optional). It also gets 17-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips, extra styling flourishes, foglights, and front sport seats with adjustable thigh support.

At the top of the Clubman range lies the John Cooper Works trim. Motivated by a more potent version of the turbocharged four-cylinder (228 hp, 258 lb-ft), this Clubman comes only with all-wheel drive. Upgrades include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, a sport steering wheel, and simulated suede and cloth upholstery.

Though some of the available packages are trim-specific, a few can be ordered on any Clubman variant. These include the Cold Weather (auto-dimming mirrors and heated front seats) and Premium (keyless ignition and entry, a panoramic sunroof, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and, for the John Cooper Works trim, adaptive LED headlights) packages. There’s also a Technology package, which adds an automated parking system, front and rear parking sensors, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, a head-up display, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and wireless device charging.

Both Cooper and Cooper S can be ordered with the Sport package, which adds 17-inch wheels (Cooper only), adaptive suspension dampers, LED foglights (Cooper S only) and LED headlights. These two trims can be ordered with a Fully Loaded package, which bundles the Premium, Sport and Technology packages. The JCW Exterior and Interior packages add special design flourishes from Mini’s John Cooper Works performance division.

Many of these items can be ordered individually. Other notable options include adaptive cruise control, various wheel designs (17-, 18- and 19-inch), black or white hood stripes, roof rails, a rear foglight, power-adjustable front seats (with driver-seat memory functions), a 40/20/40-split rear seat, cloth upholstery, leather and cloth upholstery, full leather upholstery, various interior trim pieces, satellite radio and a space-saver spare tire.

2018 MINI Clubman Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper Hatchback (turbo 1.5L inline-3 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Clubman has received some revisions, including touchscreen functionality for the upgraded central display. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year’s Clubman.

2018 MINI Clubman Scorecard

Overall 4.0 / 5.0  
Driving 3.5 / 5.0
Comfort 3.5 / 5.0
Interior 4.5 / 5.0
Utility 5.0 / 5.0
Technology n/a

2018 MINI Clubman Driving Experiences

Today’s Clubman is heavier than the previous model, but it didn’t get enough of a power bump to offset the extra weight. Because of this, the base model isn’t particularly spry. The larger 2.0-liter engine in the Clubman S and JCW would certainly provide better performance.

2018 MINI Clubman Acceleration  

In casual driving, the Clubman’s 1.5-liter engine is adequate. But it can feel slow to respond when quick action is required to merge with traffic. Sport mode helps, but it’s still outpaced by many competitors, needing 8.6 seconds to get to 60 mph. The 2.0-liter engine should do better.

2018 MINI Clubman Braking

The Clubman is a stopping superstar. The brakes are smooth to operate in everyday driving and feel stable and confident under panic-stop conditions. In performance testing, the Clubman needed only 107 feet to stop from 60 mph, a commendable result considering the all-season tires.

2018 MINI Clubman Steering

Steering is a tricky aspect to tune and a big contributor to confidence behind the wheel. The Clubman’s steering system is precise and maintains a good balance between assist and road feedback. The meaty steering wheel feels substantial in your hands.

2018 MINI Clubman Handling

Usually renowned for snappy, playful go-kartlike handling, this Mini seems to be dialed back for a calmer demeanor. The Clubman still responds well to initial steering inputs and exhibits impeccable balance, but the overall feel is more composed and deliberate, not eager and frenetic.

2018 MINI Clubman Drivability

The six-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly, and it makes the Clubman easy to wheel around town. Our test sample’s transmission exhibited some vibration when rolling to a slow stop, but we’re not convinced this is typical behavior.

2018 MINI Clubman Comfort

The Clubman offers a lot of comfort inside, with no shortage of plushly padded surfaces and more room than before for passengers to stretch out. Downsides include a slightly stiff ride and fair amounts of wind and road noise that find their way in.

2018 MINI Clubman Seat comfort

The seat cushions are firm but offer plenty of padding, as do the armrests. Even the simulated leather upholstery feels pretty nice. There’s good lateral support and a decent amount of lumbar support, even without the upgraded power seats.

2018 MINI Clubman Ride comfort

The Clubman skews toward the stiff side of the ride quality spectrum, possibly due to the rigid sidewalls of its run-flat tires. But with a longer wheelbase than other Minis, the Clubman has a less busy ride than the smaller Cooper Hardtop and Convertible models.

2018 MINI Clubman Noise & vibration 

There is a fair amount of wind noise from the mirrors and consistent road noise from the tires, although neither is overly intrusive. Particularly rough roads can transmit a rumbling noise into the Clubman’s cabin.

2018 MINI Clubman Interior

Mini used to champion style over function, sometimes to a fault, but has since evolved its design approach with the Clubman to successfully incorporate both. The company’s commitment to heritage is evident in the distinctive 50/50-split cargo-area doors, which swing outward like a cargo van’s.

2018 MINI Clubman Ease of use  

The central entertainment and climate controls are well-organized, intuitive to navigate and easy to use. The only issue we had was with the front seat belts running across the manual recline lever when buckled, which is somewhat inconvenient.

2018 MINI Clubman Getting in/getting out

Front-seat entry is excellent, with wide door openings and ample dash clearance for knees. It’s fairly difficult to get into the rear, however, with a wide doorsill and little foot clearance because of the seat’s proximity to the central pillar. This could pose problems for tall or elderly folks.

2018 MINI Clubman Roominess

Four passengers are optimal, but five will fit without much sacrifice. Despite the dual sunroofs, headroom is generous across the board, and the front seatbacks are soft, so rear passengers have a nice space buffer if seated behind a tall driver.

2018 MINI Clubman Visibility   

With the exception of the split rear window — more a quirk than a hindrance — visibility is excellent. Folding rear headrests are clever, and the numerous large windows provide great 360-degree visibility. A rearview camera and parking sonar are optional.

2018 MINI Clubman Quality

Soft-touch interior surfaces, doors that seal solidly when closed, and rubberized climate control knobs that rotate with soft detents are all of palpable quality. Mini’s personality remains, but it’s matured and befits a luxury compact.

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2018 MINI Clubman Review | ivink3aray | 4.5