First Drive: The Mini Cooper Clubman
U.S. auto journalists got their first “ride and drive” of the Mini Cooper Clubman at a press launch in Monterey, California today. The Clubman, a stretched-out, three-door variant of the iconic hipster-mobile, the Mini Cooper, features a unique “club door” configuration. Actually, this Mini has five doors if you count the two rear swing-out barn doors, which add to the vehicle’s quirky-yet-practical personality.
Mini offers two engine options. There’s the 120 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder found in the base Cooper, or the 175 horsepower turbocharged version of the same engine found in the sportier Cooper S. Fuel economy is exactly the same as its smaller cousins, rating 28 city/37 highway for the standard Clubman, and 26 city/34 highway for the turbo-charged model. Consumers now have yet another efficient Mini to consider.
The Clubman is quick, agile, and athletic. Though a little bigger than the Cooper and Cooper S, it drives with the same spirit and sport. It’s ideal for maneuvering in tight spots, as well as darting in and out of traffic with little drama. Inside, the Clubman offers a good bit more cargo room and versatility than the standard size Cooper. It has an overall storage capacity of 33 cubic feet with the split rear seats folded down. Due to its added level of space and comfort, this is probably the Mini to have for tackling long distances. And as far as cabin appearance, the Clubman upholds Mini’s unique blend of new age technology with old world aesthetics.
Creative and cost-efficient, the Clubman received high praise from most auto journalists attending the event. The only shortcoming seems to be a rear seat that is still pretty tight, despite the vehicle’s expanded dimensions. The Clubman starts at a base price of $20,600, and is available at dealer showrooms throughout the country.