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The Mini lineup is a lot older than most people may think, as it dates back to 1959, when BMC developed the first Mini model - a compact four-cylinder car to combat fuel shortages in Europe. Mini became a part of the BMW auto group in the 1990s, after the German automaker snatched up the Rover Group. BMW later offloaded the Rover Group, but retained its rights to mini, knowing that this brand has a bright future. In 2002, BMW brought the Mini Cooper to the U.S., and the Cooper Clubman - a three-door model - debuted in 2008.
Coming into the 2013 model year, the Cooper Clubman is a carryover from 2012. This model comes in three trim levels, Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works. The Cooper trim level focuses on giving the customer great fuel economy – 35 mpg highway and 27 mpg city – and a well-proportioned interior with basic amenities. The Cooper S trim level adds in significantly more power, via a turbocharger, and still gets the same gas mileage as the Cooper model. The Cooper S trim also adds in some performance aesthetics, like larger rims, aluminum pedals and others. The John Cooper Works trim level offers awesome performance, dropping 0.5 seconds from the Cooper S’ 0-to-60 time, plus it adds in a few extra features, like its exclusive interior pattern, electronic differential and others.
The compact hatchback market is undergoing a comeback in the U.S., so the Mini Clubman has some stout competition. A key competitor to the Clubman is the 2013 Fiat 500, which has an engine lineup ranging from a 1.4-liter engine with 101 horsepower to a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with 160 horsepower and gets between 34 and 40 mpg on the highway. The 2013 Hyundai Veloster is another one on the list with its engine lineup ranging from a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter to a 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter, while getting 35 to 37 mpg on the highway. Next up on the list of competitors is the 2013 Volkswagen GTI, which has a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which nets the GTI 31 to 33 mpg highway.
As expected, the Mini Clubman has plenty of competition, but it is really the car that launched the hatchback revival in the U.S. Even with its place in history firmly set, the Mini still needs to bring plenty to the table to hold onto its market share.
The 2013 Cooper Clubman acts as the base trim level for the Clubman lineup and features a 121-horsepower 1.6-liter engine that twists out 114 foot-pounds of torque. This engine links up to a six-speed manual transmission and gets the Clubman to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds. On the outside, the Cooper Clubman features: chrome-framed grille, chrome tailpipe, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, dynamic stability control, performance suspension and 15-by-5.5-inch wheels. Inside the cabin, the Cooper Clubman features: seven airbags, leatherette seating, bucket front seats, Mini Connected infotainment system with CD player, HD radio, SiriusXM capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity, iPhone integration, USB port and iPod connection, multifunction steering wheel, ambient lighting, and start/stop button.
The Cooper S Clubman tosses in a huge increase in power, via a 181-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine that connects to a six-speed manual transmission. This nets the Cooper S Clubman a 7-second run to 60 mph. On the outside, the Cooper S Clubman comes standard all of the same features as the Cooper Clubman, but tosses in a front hood scoop, fog lamps, black mesh grille, dual split chrome tailpipes, cornering brake control, chrome fuel cap, and 16-by-6.5-inch rib spoke alloy wheels. On the inside, the Cooper S Clubman has all of the same features as the Cooper Clubman, but it adds in sport seats and aluminum alloy sport pedals.
The John Cooper Works Clubman takes the performance and styling upgrades of the Cooper S Clubman and raises it up a few notches. It uses the same 1.6-liter engine linked up to a six-speed manual transmission, but bumps the total output up to 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. This increase lowers the Clubman’s 0-to-60 sprint to just 6.5 seconds. On the outside, the John Cooper Works Clubman inherits the basic features from the Cooper S Clubman, but this performance trim level adds in: 17-by-7-inch cross-spoke alloy rims with run-flat tires and electronic differential lock control. Inside the cabin, the John Cooper Works Clubman adds in stainless-steel pedals and checkered-pattern cloth upholstery.
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Good fuel economy, but lacks power and size, and the styling is not for everyone
Great base price and fuel economy, but turbocharger lags and suffers from delayed response
Great power and acceleration, but a little bit pricey and below-average city mpg
Power and acceleration to match the John Cooper Works, and low relative price, but poor fuel economy