New Club In Town | MINI Cooper S Clubman

BY Azfar Hashim

There's an additional door gained but with bootspace still smaller than a regular wagon, could the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine be its saving grace?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

Mini’s quirky Clubman is now here in Mark 2 guise, and the good news this time around is that it has gained practicality. The bad news? No more quirkiness: The passenger-door-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-car episode from before is now gone. In its place are two proper doors for rear passengers.

So, if right now you are looking for a brand new car that stands out from the crowd, but at the same time doesn't compromise much on everyday practicality, then this new Cooper S Clubman should be right down your alley.

Yes, you’ve probably read our previous review of the more affordable 1.5-litre Cooper version; in local context, that would outsell this Cooper S version just based on economical reasons (cheaper road tax, insurance and fuel economy).

But if you could spare the cash, I would highly recommend this Cooper S straight.

Firstly, it’s because you get the sort of ferocity that was supposedly reserved only for hot-hatchbacks. Under this bonnet lies a turbocharged, 4-cylinder 2.0-litre powerplant; paired to an 6-speed automatic, you get a maximum power output of 192 bhp and 280 Nm of torque (available from as low as 1,250 rpm). Which then leads to a 0 to 100 km/h timing of 7.1 seconds.

Mini never lied about their car’s performance figures, and as per the numbers above, this 1.4-tonne Cooper S Clubman does feel light footed. Turbo lag doesn’t seem to exist here so the moment you mash the accelerator when the light turns green, by the next, you’ve arrived in 2017.

You can feel the immense torque sent to the front two wheels; fortunately torque steer has been significantly lessened when compared to its predecessor. Then at the same time you do feel and hear the 205 section tyres screaming, with the traction control light blinking away on the display meter. And you’re not even in Sport mode yet…

Paddle-shifters a standard affair here

Paddle-shifters a standard affair here

Despite all that power waiting to be unleashed, the Cooper S Clubman displayed its tamer side when you cruise along the expressway at legal speed limits. Both wind and engine noise are well suppressed, so you don’t have to raise your voice just to enjoy a decent conversation with your rear passenger; that said (no pun intended) though, tyre noise remain audible.

The other compromise came in the form of a slightly stiffer suspension set-up - along the KPE, your passengers do feel every uneven surface. Probably a ‘No Food Allowed’ policy would prevent unnecessary spillage and mess…

On the upside, in true Cooper S tradition (and in Sport mode) this Clubman handle corners with flair and pizzazz, rarely scrambling for grip despite the additional wheelbase and sheetmetal it’s lugging around; mind you, the Clubman is 403 mm longer and 205 kg heavier than its 3-door sibling. Ok, so you may still feel the additional weight coming from the rear end along tighter twists, but as a whole, Mini somehow managed to deliver an almost similar composure and confidence from the 3-door variant here. Which is good news for all you closet ham-fisted lots.

The Cooper S Clubman gets an additional 175 mm wheelbase over its 3-door sibling, and that translates to a good amount of legroom for rear occupants. It also offers 360-litres worth of bootspace; bring the backrest down and this increases to 1,250-litres. But honestly, that is nothing much to shout about when compared to the Golf Variant’s 605/1,620-litres.

With a shallow boot, we're not sure whether we could classify the Clubman a wagon

With a shallow boot, we're not sure whether we could classify the Clubman a wagon

So for drivers who are looking for a wagon that offers both a big cabin and boot, I would have to steer you towards the direction of the Golf Variant and Levorg GT-S, unfortunately.

Because this Mini Cooper S Clubman is only perfect for those of you who (a) just can’t decide whether you should buy a hatchback or a wagon, (b) cannot outgrow the hot-hatch phase but at the same time, (c) want something that would leave a wide smile on your face every single time you’re behind the wheel.

And (d) thinks Mercedes’s CLA Shooting Brake is too snobbish.

Controls clustered along the middle make things more convenient for the driver

Controls clustered along the middle make things more convenient for the driver