Motoring Discussion > MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman.
Thread Author: PeterS Replies: 8

 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman. - PeterS
Doesn’t time fly! Some of you might remember this thread, about the hunt for a quick replacement for a SEAT Ibiza that was written off after just 10 weeks.

It’s now just over a year since the replacement was delivered, so I thought I’d jot down my thoughts so far. Initially the replacement ordered was a MINI Cooper 3 door auto, which with a few options and after discount was £23kish. The order was then tweaked, and what was delivered at the beginning of August last year was a MINI Cooper S Clubman with a 7 speed DSG ‘box.

First things first, these are not particularly cheap cars, or rather, they can be but by the time you’ve plundered the options list they’re not... List price of a Cooper S Clubman was a not unreasonable £23,000. Colour and interior trim options added around £2k to that. The CHILI pack was £3,300, the DSG ‘box £1,800 and the Navigation plus pack £1,300. Over £31k now. Throw in a sunroof, adaptive dampers and a few other bits and pieces and the list price ended up at a frankly ludicrous £33,560. A decent discount / deposit contribution brought it down to a fraction over £29k, but even so it was more expensive than I initially planned. But, you know what, it feels as if it’s worth every penny. A combination of design, quality of materials, build and finish means it feels like a quality piece of kit. I don’t regret spending the money, though I imagine some of it was residual value suicide...

There’s only one option that I regret specifying, and that’s the £100 option of black instead of silver wheels. I chose them as the car’s melting silver (silvery beige colour) with a black roof / mirrors and privacy glass at the back. But, shortly after delivery I swapped the wheels for a set of 19” John Cooper Works style 526 silver/black wheels that look far better! It’s also had a set of sports stripes fitted to the bonnet and boot, again in black.

To drive it feels like a MINI; small, chunky, go-kart like. 19” wheels, run flat tyres and dampers in ‘sport’ does the ride no favours, but configure ‘sport’ as drivetrain only and leave dampers in comfort and it’s fine. You have to have drivetrain in ‘sport’ or it’s far too reluctant to change down. Large potholes can still send a bang through the car though even when the dampers are in comfort. With hindsight, standard (non adaptive) dampers and 18” wheels with non run flat tyres and an optional space saver spare might be the optimum set-up. That’d have saved a bit of money.

It’s got 187 bhp and apparently gets to 60 in 7.2 seconds, so it feels brisk rather than quick. It must have the aerodynamics of a brick as the top speed is listed at just 140 mph though. I haven’t got anywhere near that. Damp roads, 19” wheels, run flat tyres and a ‘T’ junction can lead to the most almighty torque steer mind you. Wind noise is well suppressed, despite the upright windscreen. It’s pretty economical, and will easily average high 40s to the gallon. It never dips below 35mpg, though the tank is rather small.

The interior is light and airy - the sunroof is huge and has a moveable glass panel over the front and a fixed glass panel over the rear. Ours has got a light leather interior, which looks as good as it did when delivered, and black carpets / door trims. No rattles, as you’d expect for such a low mileage car. Comfortable seats, though they suffer from a BMW style adjustments in some but not all directions. Standard lumbar support though, unlike the BMW. Plenty of room for rear seat passenger, and the boots a decent size. This’ll be tested in anger in a couple of weeks as it’ll be four up on a long weekend to Épernay...

Irritatingly the media system, while very similar to the Professional nav in my BMW is not quite the same. Yes, it’s the later touch screen (which I never use) version, but as an example of the irritation if you want to skip forward tracks on Spotify using the steering wheel controls, in the BMW you scroll up, and in the MINI down. Minor, but major at the same time! Likewise the BMW will show me the weather widget in the smaller part of the split screen. The MINI won’t.

In summary, very pleased with the car. Most of the time a 3 door would have been fine, but the rear has been used enough times that I’m pleased we went for the larger one. And I do like the way the Clubman looks, compared to the 5 door MINI. It’s larger too, Golf sized rather than super mini, but doesn’t really look it. Melting silver is a nice colour, reminiscent of the cubanite silver of one of my favourite cars, the S211 E class. I really wanted to order the MINI with the rather nice blue leather interior that’s available, but don’t like any of the colours it might go with outside. So, sadly, if ordering again I’d order the same. Except I can’t, because MINI has simplified its range and now offers Sport or Exclusive as trim levels for the Cooper S. But, there is a Cooper S Clubman JCW with 306 bhp, four wheel drive and an 8 speed auto now...
 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman. - Netsur
That is very interesting and compares with the more prosaic Clubman 2.0 Diesel manual my wife bought in May 18 at 20 months old and with only 3,900 miles on it. With our budget, we were limited to pretty much this car as she wanted the glass sunroof, so made do with cream paint

We have been very happy with it, and it far superior in every way to the Evoque she had before. The most impressive thing is the amount of legroom in the back, seconded only by the 46mpg average which is very good given her almost total suburban driving. However the car has done some longer trips mainly because it is almost as good as my E350CDi on the motorway - the long wheelbase really aids the ride comfort.

I'm not sure that four up, the boot will swallow all the luggage for you, but there is enough space in the rear cabin to put bags as well. Enjoy!
 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman - PeterS
I reckon in day to day use the 2.0 diesel and a manual ‘box probably feels quicker, even if the numbers say it isn’t. The 2.0d has more torque than the petrol S, and is only down around 40bhp isn’t it? The 2.0 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine needs to be revved, which is no hardship, to make it feel properly brisk. On the plus side, in sport with the gearbox in sport/manual the up shifts have a satisfying bang>>>bang>>>bang feel engineered in as you go 2nd/3rd/4th. And the exhaust note has improved markedly over 6k miles, as it did in the BMW to be fair. That sounds better than ever after 3 years, so I’m optimistic for the MINI :)

On the luggage front, it’s 4 blokes so I’m sure we’ll be fine ;) Whether there’s enough space for sufficient local produce on the return remains to be seen, but I reckon you can get quite a bit under the boot floor!
 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman - Netsur
Yes, SWMBO's car is very fast when you want it to be... I do find the clutch and gearbox a bit heavy but they suit the car and missus doesn't complain.

 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman - DP
We have a Cooper D (2.0) Clubman which we've been really impressed with. It's a surprisingly practical car, which can swallow a surprising amount of stuff, as well as two adults, and two teenage children without ever feeling cramped. It's well built, reliable, and cheap to run.

The 2.0 diesel really suits the car, with its effortless, torquey delivery, and it returns anything from 46-55 mpg depending on what it's doing. It's not a quick car, but it doesn't feel underpowered either. I think the engine suits the car well.

I find it surprising that MINI do a better job of installing this powertrain transversely in the Mini models than BMW do longitudinally in theirs. Sound insulation and NVH levels are noticeably better than the F30 320ds that I had, and the transverse gearbox has a much nicer shift quality than the RWD box used in BMW manuals. Odd when there's a linkage in the way on the FWD cars, whereas the gear lever drops straight into the tail of the 'box on the RWD models. The manual BMW box was agricultural and baulky compared to this.

They are great cars. We considered a Cooper S petrol, and really liked how it drove, but couldn't make the maths work at the time.
 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman - PeterS

>> They are great cars. We considered a Cooper S petrol, and really liked how it
>> drove, but couldn't make the maths work at the time.

I’ve just realised that while I referenced low mileage I didn’t actually say how many miles it has covered! It’s covered 6,600 miles in a little over a year, and is asking for a service in 11k miles. I knew it’d end up being a low mileage car covering mainly short journeys, so the diesel would have been ruled out purely on the usage pattern. It’ll be kept for at least 4 years, and I was working on the basis that diesel residuals were likely to be less predictable than petrol. Plus, the petrol does sound good...though the Cooper petrol with the 3 cylinder engine might have been the smarter buy...

The gearbox was not one that I test drove before ordering; demo cars had an 8 speed auto, but this was superseded by a 7 speed DSG box in the Cooper S (definitely petrol, not sure about diesel). While it’s keener to change than the 8 speed unit, it’s not as good as the installation in our old A3 or that in the Ibiza. It’s easier to catch it out, and it’s changes can be less smooth. But on the whole it’s fine, and it’s also good in manual mode
 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman. - PeterS
>> I'm not sure that four up, the boot will swallow all the luggage for you,
>> but there is enough space in the rear cabin to put bags as well. Enjoy!

Just as a follow up, we did around 700 miles 4 up in the Clubman. No complaints from the back; plenty of leg and headroom and room in the door pockets for multiple bottles of water. The boot coped easily with our luggage - 2 medium sized wheelie bags, a couple of rucksacks and a couple of smaller bags. And had room on the way back for 6 cases (6 bottles each) of champagne. Some had to be decanted, but the area under the boot floor will hold 15 bottles in single boxes, and three boxes of wine glasses. All luggage under the load cover - including a haul of sandwiches and drinks from the Eurotunnel flexiplus lounge ;)

According to the OBC we averaged 38 mpg and 54 mph in total... though four up it doesn’t feel like it’s got 192 bhp I have to say. But, comfortable on the long stretch of the A26 between Calais and Reims. Road noise on the concrete section of the M20 was very noticeable - 19” runflats not ideal I suspect.

We also stumbled across this in a small village outside Epernay. We wondered why on earth around 20 Bugatti’s were trundling past! Around €30m worth at a guess!

 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman. - PeterS
As a follow up to this, yesterday I borrowed the JCW Clubman demo car from my local dealer... it’s got 306 PS vs the 192 of ours, 4 wheel drive compared to front and an 8 speed auto compared to the 7 speed DSG box. Ours also has 19” wheels with adaptive suspension - the demo car had standard suspension and 19” wheels. But, it did have the Harman Kardon sound system that I didn’t spec.

So, a few thoughts...

It’s quick, much quicker (as you’d expect) and sounds far better. A nice raspy exhaust sound with the right number of pops and crackles in sport mode. A bit quieter in mid, which is fine. The four wheel drive really improves the way the car drives - even with ‘just’ 192 PS it’s all too easy to overcome the traction in ours, especially at junctions and in the damp. Epic torque steer can be provoked. All gone in the JCW, though it will run out of grip perhaps sooner than you’d expect. It also doesn’t brake as well as you think is should, though I’ll caveat that with the fact the demo car had only done 900 miles.

The 8 speed box is very different to the DSG one; in sport the DSG ‘box changes down much quicker when you put your foot down at low to mid speeds. But when cruising it’s remarkably reluctant to change down. The 8 speed was slower to change down at lower speeds, but too keen to change down on dual carriageways when I only moved the accelerator slightly.

I prefer the ride on the adaptive damper in ‘mid’ mode. Slightly softer than the suspension in the JCW. In sport the adaptive dampers are much harder than the JCW on standard suspension. I rarely use this setting!

Other thoughts? Both cars have panoramic roofs. Needed in the JCW to lighten the dark interior - the only option is black, either recaros in faux leather/alcantara (the demo car) or optional lounge leather. The recaros were comfortable and grippy. Both had the Nav plus pack; the JCW had a cheaper feeling I drive controller though, reminiscent of that in MINIs with standard nav. The HK audio did sound better, but not sure it’s £600 better...

Those are my slightly unstructured thoughts after a couple of hours and 60odd miles of mainly narrow, windy and reasonably lightly trafficked country roads!
 MINI - MINI Cooper S Clubman. - PeterS
Slightly late (well, about 3 months...) a quick update on the MINIs second year. Serviced in August on a time not mileage basis; it had only done 11k miles by then. My travel over winter, followed almost immediately by lockdown, meant that mileage in the last year was low. It spent much of the time parked at LHR, but despite that remained undamaged. T3 valet parking was the usual service, but tracking it on the MINI connected app the car never left the airport.

Really not a lot to report. The first service cost £279, including the micro filter. £229 without, but for the sake of £50 I thought I’d follow the schedule to the letter as it was still under warranty. No faults, no rattles, no issues. It used no oil, and has averaged 38.2 mpg over the two years (OBC, unverified). Shortly after delivery I replaced the 18” 521 ‘Star’ wheels the car came with with 19” John Cooper Works 526 radial wheels. Purely for cosmetic reasons really...I ordered the car with black 18” wheels, and didn’t really like them. The new wheels came with 225/35/19 Bridgestone runflats, which are harsh. Very reminiscent of those fitted to a 535d I had back in 2005. The fronts were down to 4mm while the backs were still 6mm, so against advice I had them swapped front to rear so that in a few more thousand miles I can replace the whole set with some non runflat Michelins. The car has adaptive dampers fortunately, which means in comfort setting they’re about 10% less stiff than the conventionally suspended Clubman, but in Sport 10% firmer. What 10% softer or firmer actually means I don’t know. It’s fine in comfort, harsh in sport - more so than on the 18” wheels.

It’s a practical car...I’ve had a paddle board in it well, sticking out the back anyway. The “barn’ doors are helpful for that. I’ve now got some Thule roofbars which work well for carrying the board, though I only really take it locally. Bikes fit in the back with the seats down easily enough. It’s also had half a scaffolding tower in the boot, with boards and associated bits and pieces. It’d have taken more. Galvanised’s quite old...was my heavy. Car coped fine. It’s also comfortable for up to 4...a 3rd in the rear is tight.

Spec wise ours was pretty heavily optioned, but I don’t regret any of them bar the £100 spent on black wheels that were quickly changed. In fact having had adaptive cruise on the Merc now for over a year, I’m beginning to think that not selecting that (one of two big ticket options I ignored, the other being a HUD) might have been a mistake. But, it was £800 which is a lot. I wouldn’t even change the colour choice...melting silver, black roof, ‘sports’ stripes, privacy glass and stone (grey/cream) leather. I think it’s a good looking car.

It’s now 27 months old and has done 13,000 miles. It’ll be with me for the foreseeable future...comfortable, practical, quick enough and well equipped.
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