2013 MINI Cooper Clubman Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 MINI Cooper Clubman was new.


Performance: 8.1

The automotive press reports that the 2013 Mini Cooper Clubman is one of the most fun-to-drive affordable small cars available. Just like its smaller sibling, the Mini Cooper Hardtop, the Cooper Clubman offers nimble handling, great city maneuverability and smooth-shifting transmissions. Still, engaging driving dynamics do come at a price, and some reviewers say that the Clubman’s suspension may be too stiff for some drivers.

  • "Minis are nothing if not fun. With a rigid body structure and sporty suspension, Minis are attracted to twisty roads like metal to a magnet. For a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the Mini is immensely nimble in corners." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Regardless of which Clubman you choose, all offer an invigorating drive." -- Edmunds (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The Cooper Clubman offers three 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines. The base engine makes 121 horsepower, the turbocharged engine in the Cooper S Clubman makes 181 horsepower and the turbocharged engine in the John Cooper Works model makes 208 horsepower. All models have a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional. All Cooper Clubman models use premium gasoline. With either transmission, the base Cooper Clubman averages an EPA-estimated 27/35 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class. With the automatic transmission, the John Cooper Works model averages 26/34 mpg.

Since the Cooper Clubman is heavier than the Mini Cooper Hardtop, one test driver thinks the Cooper Clubman is noticeably slower. However, most reviewers are impressed with the power any of the Cooper Clubman’s three engines provide. Though the 121-horsepower engine is the least powerful engine of the bunch, all but one reviewer thinks it delivers the spunky power they expect from a Mini. Most test drivers prefer the manual transmission because it’s smooth and seems to improve the Cooper Clubman’s acceleration, though one reviewer thinks the automatic transmission performs just as well as the manual.

See the 2013 Mini Cooper Clubman specs »

  • "Even with the base engine, Mini Coopers are a blast to drive. We endorse Mini's excellent 6-speed manual transmission in all of the brand's models, but especially in the base form, as that engine with the automatic transmission makes the vehicle noticeably slower." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Base models have no surplus of power, but S and John Cooper Works versions are jackrabbit quick." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "In addition to the Clubman's quick handling, engine power is surprisingly zippy, even for the base 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The power is just right, and the engine feels responsive whether you choose the six-speed manual transmission or the six-speed automatic." -- Edmunds (2012) 
  • "Both the Cooper S Clubman and John Cooper Works versions get the same six-speed manual transmission, which shifts with European smoothness and lets you chirp the front tires off the line." -- CNET (2011)
  • "The extra oomph available from the turbo motor is genuinely necessary to lift momentum to a fruitful plane." -- Automobile Magazine (2011)

Handling and Braking

Critics generally agree that although the Cooper Clubman is longer than the base Mini Cooper, it still offers athletic handling that rivals many sports cars. Most reviewers are pleased with the Cooper Clubman’s direct steering, which allows it to navigate tight spaces with ease. They report that the John Cooper Works model has the best handling in the model line. One reviewer thinks its brakes are very strong.

Some reviewers say the Cooper Clubman’s sporty ride does come at a cost because the suspension doesn’t mute many bumps in the road. Though some writers say the Cooper Clubman’s ride is uncomfortable at times, one reviewer is impressed that the Cooper Clubman is planted on the highway and isn’t easily blown around by crosswinds.

  • "While the sports suspension excels in keeping the radials planted in any horizontal maneuver, the price is paid in lots of up-and-down jostling over blemishes in the road." -- The Chicago Tribune (2008)
  • "They offer excellent maneuverability, thanks in part to their electrically assisted steering that offers light feel at low speeds and firms up as speed increases. Stopping control is first-rate, with fine pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "For some, though, the stiff suspension on the John Cooper Works model, or the optional sport suspension on the Cooper S, might be too aggressive for comfort." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Compared to its length-challenged Mini counterpart, the Clubman's longer wheelbase adds a noticeable amount of stability, especially on choppier pavement, but still retains a playful front-end feel." -- Road and Track (John Cooper Works, 2012)
  • "The real advantage of the John Cooper Works trim comes in the form of superior handling. The base-level Mini takes corners well, but the John Cooper Works Clubman handles turns at speeds you wouldn't think possible in this type of car." -- CNET  (2012)

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