Compact vehicles are a common sight on the American road, but design wise, they are rarely very distinctive even as the number of small crossover vehicles has steadily proliferated.
One exception to the rule, however, is the Mini and the family of vehicles it has spawned such as the Mini Cooper S Clubman, which is specifically designed to both sportier and more practical than some of the other members of a now legendary tribe.
The 2023 Mini Cooper S Clubman comes complete with a turbocharged engine, Dutch doors and a useable rear seat and all-wheel drive. It also has a well-tuned chassis, up-to-date connectivity and features such as satellite radio and a premium sound system, a center stack touch screen, and driver-assistance technology, which comes in handy in heavy traffic and ambient lighting as well as heated seats.
Let’s not forget, it’s a Mini so it’s also fun to drive.
The Mini Cooper S was spawned by one of the most successful “retro” designs to ever come out of the automobile industry’s design studios in the late 20th Century. The “new” Mini is an artfully updated version of the famous Mini from the 1950s — one of the icons of the British automobile industry before it passed into history.
It features a cleverly rounded front and clean sheet metal all around. The Clubman also features Dutch doors at the back rather than the standard hatch and Cooper has updated the grille to make it look more contemporary, while keeping the circular headlamps. The exterior of the vehicle I drove was dressed up with a John Cooper aero kit.
The interior of any Mini is dominated by the circular center stack display, which has been the signature feature of the updated version. The circular light ring around the center stack display has been modernized with a touchscreen feature for both the entertainment and navigation functions in this version of the Mini.
The interior also features a blend of textures and materials including leather seating surfaces in the vehicle I drove, giving the cabin a pleasant ambience. Mini was one of the pioneers in the use of ambient lighting and the designers of the 2023 Clubman carry on the tradition. The shift lever remains between the seats and the visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent.
But the cabin is compact, storage around the seats is small and the Harmon Kardon sound system, which faded out over rough pavement. In addition, the line joining the Dutch doors at the back of the Clubman obstructs the rear-view mirror.
The 2023 Mini Cooper S Clubman is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine, which is coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle comes with an “ALL4” all-wheel-drive system that comes on instantly.
It is also equipped with three different drive modes and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for those who might want to control their own shifts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 Mini Cooper S Clubman a combined fuel-economy rating of 27 mpg, including 23 mpg in city driving and 32 on the highway.
Safety and Technology
The Clubman comes with eight airbags for protection, including side curtain and knee airbags for the driver and front seat passenger. It also comes with active driving assist with forward collision alerts. It also has pedestrian and lane-departure warnings, and rear-view camera and park distance sensors. It features Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as LED daytime running lights and headlamps, with automatic high-beam controls.
The Clubman’s 2.0-liter engine produces 189 horsepower, which is more than enough to give the lightweight vehicle plenty of zip out on a highway such as the Ohio Turnpike or I-75. The nicely tuned chassis and suspension from John Cooper Works also performed well in the rolling hills and twisting highways of Western Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.
The steering was precise, offered plenty of feedback and the brakes had ample stopping power. Overall, it was fun to drive especially on country roads, but it also fit nicely in city driving.
2023 Mini Cooper S Clubman ALL4 Specifications
|L: 168.3 inches/W: 79.4 inches/H: 56.7 inches/Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
|2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive
|23 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
|189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $36,500; As tested: $44,500; excluding a $850 destination charge.
The 2023 Clubman certainly isn’t for everyone. It does not have the space for what the majority of analysts would consider to be a family car. At $44,400, it also carries what used to be considered the price tag for a luxury car. But it is fun to drive and is efficient enough for commuting, running errands or the outing of a family with small children. It is also easy to park, which is always something to consider in increasingly crowded urban and suburban environments.
2023 Mini Cooper S Clubman ALL4 — Frequently Asked Questions
What does ALL4 mean on a Mini Cooper?
Introduced in 2010 with the launch of the iconic Countryman SUV, ALL4 refers to Mini’s all-wheel-drive system that can take on a broad range of terrains and weather conditions.
What is the difference between a Mini Countryman and Clubman?
While both Mini models comfortably seat five passengers, the Countryman offers a little more cargo space. Plus, its higher roofline also provides passengers with more headspace. The Clubman also features standard heated front seats. The Piano Black interior finish is standard for the 2021 Countryman.
Is Mini phasing out Clubman?
Mini’s range is going electric, and this will mean new models with new names. The Mini Clubman, on sale since the 2015 model year, will leave the line-up in 2024 as Mini plans to overhaul its offerings.