The original Mini was of course a much-loved motoring classic but when the Clubman variant came along on 1969 it was not destined to be as well received as its standard stable mate. The car was thought of as a bit odd and even ugly, so when BMW launched the updated version in 2007 they must have hoped that their Clubman would do a little better. They have clearly succeeded and this new Clubman is a far more desirable motor than its predecessor. The new Clubman line up consisted of the entry level One, the Cooper D turbo diesel and the turbo charged Cooper S. In 2010 the engines were upgraded from 1.4 litres to new and cleaner 1.6 litre units and the Mini Cooper S Clubman was boosted from 175bhp to 184bhp. The 2010 cars also enjoyed a major facelift with a revised bumper and lower air intake which had been modified to offer better pedestrian protection and bigger deformation zones. Lighting units around the car were also updated.
Bang for your buck
The Cooper S Clubman was added to the MINI range to provide a bit more practicality and it is indeed a five door car. It is just that the five doors might not be exactly where you expect them to be. The two front doors are pretty standard but there is also a rear 'Clubman' door on the driver's side. This is a kind of half-sized door that opens rearwards to provide for easier access into the rear seats but its limitations are immediately obvious. Being on the driver's side it means that rear passengers will have to exit out of the car onto the road if the car is parked facing the direction of traffic. The other two doors are made up by the Clubman's two rear hatch doors which open outwards and to the sides rather than a traditional upwards opening hatch. In terms of actual practicality however, the Clubman Cooper S does actually deliver over the standard MINI. The wheelbase is 8cm longer than the standard car and is 24cm longer overall. That gives a vital 8cm of extra legroom in the back and with the option of a three seater rear bench it takes the Clubman some way towards the realm of the practical family car. A respectable 260 litre boot adds to the practicality and this can be extended to almost estate car capacity by folding flat the 50/50 split rear seats. Adding the zippy 184bhp 1.6 litre engine and MINI's lovable style to all that practicality and in the MINI Cooper S Clubman you have a potentially winning package
What you'll pay
One of the early 2007 (57 reg) MINI Cooper S Clubman models with 45,000 miles on the clock will cost you around £7,750. A 2010 model on a 59 plate with Chilli Pack and 38,000 miles covered will cost just under £12,000.
What to check
The new 1.6 engines are some of the best in their class and are so far giving no trouble. Reliability has been very good and even the interior trim seems to be holding up well. These cars were often sold with cheap servicing plans and this should mean you should be looking for an impeccable service record. Check the tyres for uneven wear and make sure the rear seats fold smoothly.
A clutch assembly is something like £130 and front brake pads are around £40. A full exhaust system will cost about £360, an alternator £100 and a tyre around £40.
How it drives
The used Mini Cooper S Clubman has an intercooled and turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol engine that in the first 175bhp format would reach 60mph in 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. The updated 184bhp Cooper S Clubman does 60mph in 7.2s and reaches 142mph. Although bigger than the standard MINI, this car is still eminently chuckable and the point and squirt MINI handling is thankfully still present. The extra headroom does not seem to add any appreciable body roll in the corners. The steering has been updated to make parking easier and that lighter feel might disappoint enthusiastic drivers. On later cars however a Sport setting is available which goes a long way to restoring all that road feedback. For those who enjoy their sporty MINI motoring but need just a tad more practicality then, a used MINI Cooper S Clubman might just fit the bill.