In-depth reviews

MINI Clubman estate review

“With its unconventional styling and twin boot doors, the MINI Clubman offers an appealingly left-field alternative to the traditional family hatchback”

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Distinctive-looking
  • Well equipped
  • Fun to drive

Cons

  • Some won’t like styling
  • Options can be expensive
  • Still has unusual boot doors

The MINI Clubman, or ‘Clubbie’ as it’s sometimes known by owners, is one of the brand’s quirkier models. It’s a six-doored hatchback-estate mix that offers a middle-ground between the standard MINI hatch and the MINI Countryman SUV.

Somewhat flawed as an estate, it’s perhaps best thought of as a rival to the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3; the boot is almost exactly the same size as those premium hatchbacks, and the interior is similarly plush as well. It’s big enough to be a family car, and is certainly more useful than the three- and five-door MINI models.

MINI launched the Clubman estate in 2007, building on the success of the hatchback by offering the MINI design and image to buyers who needed something bigger and more practical.

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The Clubman badge was resurrected and instead of being a conventional five-door hatch, the car was somewhat unusual; it was a MINI-based estate car with two side-hinged tailgate ‘barn doors’, plus a rear-hinged passenger door on the driver's side. Naturally, the latter opened on the opposite side to the average British pavement, which in truth wasn’t ideal for UK buyers.

When this second-generation Clubman was launched, designers swapped this curious piece of design for two conventional back doors, but retained the quirky tailgates. The proportions of the Clubman are still a little unwieldy but it looks much more svelte than it did before. As with any modern MINI, it’s possible to make it your own through near-endless colour and personalisation options.

In 2019, the Clubman underwent a subtle facelift that gave it an extra dose of ‘Britishness’; gaining the somewhat divisive ‘Union Jack’ rear LED lights of the MINI Hatch. Its nose was given a new chrome grille design and there were several other very minor styling tweaks too. Recent special-editions have added appeal, too.

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Although those unique rear doors open onto a usefully shaped estate-style space, at 360 litres, the Clubman’s load capacity is dwarfed by that of any other estate.

On the road, the MINI Clubman has softer suspension than the five-door MINI hatchback, although it’s still been designed with driver involvement as a priority. This is a winning combination, as you’re well insulated from poor road surfaces and potholes, yet the Clubman remains enjoyable to steer along twisty backroads. The rapid Clubman John Cooper Works even takes on the Volkswagen Golf R Estate thanks to a new 302bhp engine and four-wheel drive that makes it the most potent MINI ever.

The Clubman is offered with a range of petrol engines, and three main trim levels. The entry-level model is named Clubman Classic, or buyers can upgrade to a Sport or Exclusive for extra styling touches and equipment. Sport lends a racy air, with John Cooper Works alloy wheels, body styling and sports seats, while Exclusive brings mature looks with subtle chrome exterior trim and an indulgent leather interior.

For 2021, there was also a Shadow Edition trim level, with black paint, a contrasting silver roof and model-specific graphics. The following year, this was replaced by the Clubman Untold Edition that boasts Sage green paint, exclusive stripes, snazzy alloy wheels and gold detailing.

Engines are a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol with 134bhp or a four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol with 176bhp in Cooper S trim. With a huge hike in power, the MINI Clubman JCW gets 302bhp thanks to a new engine shared with the BMW M135i. Four-wheel drive helps tame this output and deliver 0-62mph acceleration in just 4.9 seconds, making it exciting to drive.

Inside, the MINI Clubman is much like any other MINI model, with its quirky, well-built dashboard with a dominant central dial for the sat nav and infotainment displays. All MINI Clubmans have a leather steering wheel, sat nav, DAB digital radio, cruise control and rain-sensing wipers. Its specification can be tailored by adding optional packs and personalisation options.

The MINI Clubman scored four out of five stars in its Euro NCAP crash-tests, a lower score than some competition. It still comes complete with all of today’s essential safety kit, including autonomous emergency braking.

Practicality aside, the Clubman is a very appealing, fun-to-drive and well designed family car that’s a characterful alternative to mainstream models.

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