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#26

in 2012 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $16,605 - $23,279
Original MSRP: $21,200 - $31,400
MPG: 27 City / 35 Hwy
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2012 Mini Cooper Clubman Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The automotive press reports that the 2012 Mini Cooper Clubman is as fun to drive as the base Mini Cooper. Just like its smaller sibling, the Clubman offers nimble handling and smooth-shifting transmissions. And while the base model has enough power for commutes, the Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims are even more fun thanks to their turbocharged engines.

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 turn on a dime with outstanding steering response. Even base models corner with little body lean; S versions take handling to an even higher level, and with the optional 17-inch wheels, rank with the best sports cars." -- Consumer Guide  
  • "Dual exhaust tips burble and pop during deceleration, making heel-toe downshifts a full sensory experience." -- Road and Track (John Cooper Works model)
  • "Comparisons made of the Mini Cooper and go karts have become cliché, but not all that far from accurate. The Mini Cooper and Cooper Clubman boast precision steering, smooth and capable brakes and a very minimum of body roll in the corners." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The car's retro looks may put it in danger of being dubbed a ‘chick car,’ but anyone who gets behind the wheel realizes Minis have plenty to offer the dedicated driver." -- CNET (John Cooper Works model) 

Acceleration and Power

Most test drivers say that the base Clubman has adequate power. It features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 121 horsepower, but shoppers looking for a sportier ride should consider S and John Cooper Works trims, which generate 181 and 208 horsepower, respectively, thanks to the addition of a turbocharger. Regardless of which model you choose, the front-wheel drive Clubman comes with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is available on base and S models.

The EPA reports that the base Clubman gets 27/35 mpg city/highway with either transmission. The Cooper S Clubman gets 26/34 mpg and 27/35 mpg with automatic and manual transmissions, respectively. The John Cooper Works Clubman gets slightly lower estimates of 25/33 mpg. While the Clubman’s fuel economy is great, keep in mind that it uses premium fuel, which means you’ll pay more for the gas you use.

  • "Base models have no surplus of power, but S and John Cooper Works versions are jackrabbit quick." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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 
  • "On-throttle, an electronic limited-slip differential uses brake application to control wheelspin; it's helpful when driving hard out of tight turns. While we'd prefer a mechanical or clutch-type diff, this is about as good as an electronic system will get." -- Road and Track (John Cooper Works model) 
  • "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 
  • "The Clubman is definitely a pay cut down from the joys of operating a regular Mini Cooper. The extra 200 pounds and 3.2-inches between the axles take a noticeable bite out of poise and agility. Turn-in is slower, the ability to jink through an S-bend more sluggish. The extra oomph available from the turbo motor is genuinely necessary to lift momentum to a fruitful plane." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Critics generally agree that although the Clubman is longer than the base Mini Cooper, it still offers athletic handling that rivals many sports cars. Most remain pleased with the Clubman’s direct steering and strong brakes, but some auto writers say that the optional sport-tuned suspension may be too stiff for some shoppers.

  • "All handle with the agility of sports cars that cost thousands more." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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 
  • "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 model)
  • "The ride is stiff, especially when equipped with the Sport Package, yet that's the price one pays to enjoy such a capable grin-inducer." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "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  

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