2012 Mini Cooper S Clubman Hampton First Test
Lots of Form, a Little More Function
Whenever I got a new toy as a kid, I would count down the minutes until the school bell rang so I could run home to play with it. Driving the 2012 MINI Cooper S Clubman for a week made me feel like that eager kid again. When I was driving, I was grinning from ear to ear. When I wasn't, I was thinking up excuses to get back in and wheel it around some more.
Compared to the base Mini hatch, the Clubman is roughly 9.3 inches longer and a couple hundred pounds heftier. But the extra junk in the trunk translates to 9.2 cu-ft of space in the rear with the seats up and 32.8 cu-ft with the back seats folded flat -- respectable for a brand that prides itself on miniature dimensions. And unlike other Minis, the Clubman also has a handy underfloor storage compartment perfect for stowing valuables you want kept out of sight.
Rear passengers also benefit from the added dimensions with 32.3 inches of legroom, only 1.5 inches fewer than the bigger, four-door Countryman. The Clubman's rear-hinged, passenger-side half-door makes rear-seat ingress and egress easier, but the integrated door handle can be hard to locate and passengers found it a bit heavy and clunky to operate. Loading the cargo bay proved trouble-free, however, even with one hand full. All it took was the push of a button on the key fob to get the Clubman's barn doors to swing open, but the right-side door had a quick trigger.
There's a decent amount of space up front as well. MT's resident beanpole, Zach Gale (just over 6 feet, 4 inches), said he had absolutely no issues with headroom. On the opposite end of the spectrum, at around 5 feet, 1 inch tall, I had to slide the seat all the way forward in order to barely reach the steel pedals -- anyone mini-er than me would probably have a problem on their hands.
Though its short hood offers excellent front visibility, the same can't be said of the rear view. While the barn doors are one of the Clubman's party tricks, the setup comes with line-of-sight issues. But as with the in-the-wrong-place toggle switches, dog-dish speedo, and other Mini-specific cabin features, it didn't take long to get accustomed to its quirks.
Our Clubman was equipped with the $4500 Hampton Package, designed by the Mini Yours customization arm as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Morris Mini Traveller, the Clubman's spiritual ancestor. The beautiful Reef Blue Metallic paint is a Hampton-specific hue, highlighted with Damson Red (Burgundy) gradient stripes on the hood and mirror caps, and additional accents on the special, 17-inch black alloy rims. The classy special-edition model also dons chrome trim, black headlight housings, HID headlights, and white turn signal lights.
Inside, the interior is swathed in black "lounge leather" seats with more Damson Red piping, while the same gradient stripes appear on the interior surface. A burgundy red color ring around the speedometer is a nice touch, and a Harman/Kardon sound system completes the upgrades. A 50th Birthday grille badge announces that this is not your average Clubman. Even in Mini-saturated Southern California, the Hamptonized Clubman got plenty of looks wherever it went.
With 181 horses and 177 lb-ft on tap from its twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (the same direct-injection unit used throughout the Mini lineup), the Clubman had enough grunt to run our figure-eight course in 26.6 seconds at 0.66 average g.
On the skidpad, the Clubman averaged a lateral stick of 0.86 g, thanks in part to its 205/45-16 run-flat summer tires. The requisite sprint from 0-60 mph took 6.6 seconds, while the longer quarter-mile knocks 15.0 seconds off the stopwatch at 93.4 mph. Only 108 feet were needed to stop the Clubman from 60 mph, an impressive number for the 2792-pound car.
A higher elevation canyon blast filled with twists and turns allowed for more time to get to know the Clubman's heavy, but accurate and jackrabbit-quick steering. The ride is anything but quiet, and the Clubman S suffers from torque steer and some wheel hop under hard acceleration. Its rock-stiff suspension and run-flats are also trademark Mini features, both of which work great on smooth pavement -- just make sure to avoid any potholes or you will pay for it.
If you're after a compact car with some zip, a decent amount of room, and good cornering manners, the Clubman S is an obvious choice. But it's not inexpensive, especially if you start adding on Hampton packages. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to sneak off and get one more stint in before it goes back.
|2012 Mini Cooper S Clubman Hampton|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$34,600|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD, 4-pass, 3-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||1.6L/181-hp/177-lb-ft* turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||2792 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||155.9 x 66.3 x 56.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.0 sec @ 93.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||108 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.86 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.6 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||27/35 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||125/96 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.64 lb/mile|
|*192-lb-ft with temporary overboost|