The Mini Hatchback, Convertible, and Countryman have all stayed relatively true to their original formula. The Mini Clubman, on the other hand, hasn't. Named after a facelifted Mini Cooper from the 1970s – the modern Clubman's most recent ancestor was actually called the Traveler – it debuted during the second-gen Mini's life as a long-wheelbase model with an extra half door on one side, and a pair of barn doors at the back.

Freshly redesigned and transformed into the auto industry's smallest six-door vehicle last model year, the Clubman moved on from simple long-wheelbase Mini – the five-door Mini Hardtop fills that role now – to executive limo. Can it succeed with such a simple brief?

Pricing and Equipment

Like the rest of the Mini range, the Clubman is a shrine of customization, so each of the three Clubman models share most their standard equipment. That includes:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • A toggle starter switch
  • Multifunction steering wheel
  • Automatic climate control
  • Sport, Normal, and Eco driving modmes
  • Adjustable ambient lighting

Optional extras are too vast to cover here. Suffice it to say, like the rest of the Mini family, the Clubman is customizable on a level normally reserved for much more expensive European exotics. This is not always a good thing, as prices for even the base Cooper Clubman, which start at just under $25,000, can end up cresting $43,000 for a fully loaded example. And that's before we dive into the powertrain differences.

Like the rest of the Mini range, the Clubman is available with three separate power levels. The base Cooper Clubman uses a 1.5-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder to produce 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The quicker Cooper S Clubman gets a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps out 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Finally, a John Cooper Works model boosts the 2.0-liter's output to 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Six-speed manuals are the order of the day, unless you pony up for the eight-speed automatic, a $1,500 expense across the range. The Clubman is notable because it's the first non-Countryman in the Mini range to get the All4 all-wheel drive system. It demands an $1,800 premium on the Cooper and Cooper S Clubman, but is standard with the JCW.

Performance Pros

Mini Clubman
  • Don't knock the base Cooper Clubman – that 1.5-liter three-cylinder is a stout little engine, and feels more than adequate around town and on freeways.
  • The Cooper S' performance is only disappointing if you're hoping for a hot hatchback-like driving experience. It's quick off the line and at highway speeds, and delivers a ear-pleasing aural note.
  • The JCW is not Volkswagen Golf R or Ford Focus RS competitor – it's too heavy – but if you want to bully Ford Fiesta STs and GTIs, its 228-hp tune is the way to go.

Performance Cons

  • The go-kart-like performance that typified the first BMW Minis is long gone. The Clubman's turn-in is still sharper than all but true sports cars, but its outright handling ability doesn't feel nearly high enough.
  • The three-cylinder requires a different driving style. It's almost like a diesel, in that all the power is available in a great lump low in the rev range. The power fades quickly at higher engine speeds.
  • Can a Mini still be a Mini when the lightest car in the range is 3,100 pounds?

Interior Pros

  • A paradise of customization, Mini has two a huge variety of upholstery and trim pieces for owners to choose from.
  • Material quality sees a big improvement over the last-gen Clubman.
  • While purists might hate it, Mini's conventionalization of the gauge cluster and window controls makes the cabin more intuitive for most drivers.

Interior Cons

Mini Clubman
  • All that customization costs money – unoptioned, the interior is too dark, lacking panache and style.
  • Rear visibility with the barn doors remains appalling.
  • Mini remains disturbingly far behind on safety content. There's a rear-view camera, but forget about blind-spot monitoring or lane keeping assist. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning are bundled in a $1,000 option group.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

A bigger Mini looks better. While the barn doors have received their fair share of criticism, those critiques often ignore the fact that the wider Clubman body does Mini's current design language a lot of favors. The fascia is far more attractive, especially in some of the more expressive paint colors.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

We know Minis are expensive, but our tester was a scarcely equipped Cooper S Clubman All4, and it still cost over $32,000. It's a hoot to drive, but it doesn't feel like very good value.

The Bottom Line

Mini continues to deliver an impressive level of customization and style with the Clubman, but if you want to experience it, plan on spending big. Budget at least $35,000 if you want a Cooper Clubman with the must-have optional extras.