Mini Clubman (2008) Review

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2008 Mini Clubman 2008 Mini Clubman 2008 Mini Clubman

Mini Clubman : Mini answers a question that was never asked...

Mini Clubman (2008) Review
2008 Mini Clubman

 

2008 Mini Clubman 

[Mar 2008] If you like the Mini hardtop, then you'll like the Clubman wagon - pure and simple. The wieldiness of the new Mini has become the stuff of legends in seven years flat and while it might have room for four people, the Clubman is no exception.

The new Minis are undeniably fun to drive in any variant, though still somewhat of an acquired taste. Even the standard Cooper models are tied down relatively tightly which means that the ride is never cosseting and the driver is always working. On the Cooper S, with or without the optional sports suspension, the ride borders on just plain hard and the car's reactions are hyper.

The extra 80mm of wheelbase the Clubman gets seems to tame the ride a touch - perhaps because there's less pitching for the suspension to control - but it's a matter of degrees. Not that it will faze any Mini buyers one iota. They are typically looking for the 'go kart' handling the brand talks about so much. No bodyroll, no suspension travel, no ride compliance - just remember, that's what a kart delivers.

In isolation, the Clubman's a hot handler and in Cooper S form especially will show many so-called hot hatches a clean set of Splitdoors. First timers will enjoy the super precise steering and almost prescient reflexes.

With experience in the standard hardtop you can, however, discern that the extra bulk and mass of the wagon body (85kg or so) makes the Clubman a little less eager to change direction, and when it does, it's a little less happy to settle.

While you can thread the needle with the front-end of the three-door Mini and let the back sort itself out, the Clubman demands you recognise the effect the pendulum hanging out the back will have on proceedings. This trait probably has much to do with the company making stability control standard across the Clubman range.

In S or standard form, the Clubman's got real pizzazz and looks better in the metal than it does in pictures. The six-speed manual was a cut above the auto we also tested, though we note with its paddles and downchange throttle blips, the auto will keep many a wannabe racer happy, and make commuting absolutely fuss-free.

We liked the Bluetooth functionality, though on a 35-degree-plus day we could have done without the panorama-style two-port sunroof. The right-hand location of the Clubdoor also seriously detracts from the feature's amenity. The rear Splitdoor is another gimmick the car didn't need, but don't expect these follies to affect the desirability or saleability of this new model.

Mini Australia will get just 300 Clubmans to sell this year. The queue will be out the dealers' doors before too long.

DID YOU KNOW?

Up to 40,000 of the 250,000-odd 2008 cars Mini builds will be the Clubman model. Unveiled first in concept form at the Frankfurt motor show in 2005, it arrives in showrooms with five doors (though not where you'd imagine them) and room for four persons (five if you choose the kiddie-friendly version). Like the three-door, the Clubman will be offered across two performance grades Down Under - the naturally-aspirated 88kW Cooper and 128kW turbocharged Cooper S - with Chilli trim upgrades for each. Pricing kicks off at $34,400 for the Cooper, rising to $47,000 for the Cooper S Chilli.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2008 Mini Clubman

 

BODY: five-door wagon

WEIGHT: 1205kg (Cooper S Chilli)

ENGINES: 1.6-litre four-cylinder; turbocharged

TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual; six-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN: front eng, FWD

POWER/TORQUE: 88kW/160Nm (Cooper); 128kW/260Nm (Cooper S)

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h - 7.1secs (Cooper S). Top speed - 225km/h

PRICE: $34,400 (Cooper) - $47,000 (Cooper S Chilli)

 

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