Dec 312016

In the auto industry, some cute things do come in small packages. The MINI Cooper, in particular, has taken cuteness to the bank. Still, roominess in any vehicle is also a virtue so when MINI decided to stretch the Cooper to create the Clubman (redesigned for 2016), the extra inches improved its versatility. I recently test-drove the MINI Cooper S Clubman for Latino Traffic Report and the added room, coupled with the S model’s sportiness, were a definite plus.

For the first time, the 2016 Cooper S Clubman offers an eight-speed Steptronic sports automatic transmission with paddle shifters—it’s also the first MINI to enter the premium compact segment. All Clubman’s, however, come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, including the test model, and that immediately put a smile on my face. Matched to a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 189 horses and 207 lb.­–ft. of torque, it scooted through Austin’s urban byways while achieving an average fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon (mpg)—it has a EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 22/32 mpg.

Sport, Mid, and Green driver select modes improved performance while adding a light show, switching modes changed the color display on the oversized circular display atop the center stack.

Inside, the test model immediately impressed me with its Burgundy leather seating, one of several new unusual tints exclusive to the Clubman. Not lacking in creature comforts, the Clubman comes with a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, keyless ignition, dual zone air conditioning, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats that offer 47.9 cubic feet of storage when folded flat. The cargo area can also be accessed from behind with an optional foot-activated sensor to open the split rear tailgate hands free. The S trim level adds 17-inch forged alloy wheels, halogen fog lights, chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets, the MINI Excitement Package with twelve-color ambient interior lighting and a projection of the MINI logo onto the ground from the exterior mirror on the driver’s side visible at night when the door is opened or closed.

While attractive, the standard MINI infotainment system with a 6.5-inch high-resolution display, was not as intuitive as it should be. So much so that I opted out of programming the presets.

All options on any MINI are available a la carte, as well as in bundled packages and the test model had several including the Premium Package ($1,800) that added the panoramic moonroof, and harman/kardon stereo system, and the Technology Package ($1,750) that added navigation, a rear view camera and a rear parking sensor. Separate options included heated front seats ($500), LED headlights ($1,000), and a one-year subscription to satellite radio ($300).

Pricing for the 2016 Clubman starts at $24,950. The as-tested pricing came to $36,600.

: Loads of fun, the MINI Clubman combines sporty performance with versatility.

No: The entertainment system was cumbersome and features like a rear view camera should be standard.




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