My time with the Mini Cooper Clubman S All4 was spent on a ski trip in Salt Lake City, Utah. As I crept out of the airport parking garage with my skis securely enclosed in the Yakima rooftop carrier, I immediately noticed how much larger this Mini felt compared to the last generation that I drove. Gone was the enormous speedometer in the center stack – replaced with a rather finicky multimedia touchscreen. With room for five adults and their gear, it didn’t take long to begin to enjoy this car.
After checking into our VRBO, I set into town to grab a bite to eat. Even in heavy stop and go traffic, the 7-speed sport double clutch transmission always knew what gear to be in. I left the car in drive most of the time, and not once did the transmission have to think twice about a shift. The TwinPower Turbocharged motor did experience some turbo lag, but it was to be expected and wasn’t intrusive at all.Day 2
On a 45 minute drive to Solitude Ski Resort, I was reminded again just how nice the interior of this Mini was. The John Cooper Works steering wheel was a nice touch, and the Harman/Kardon stereo system sounded great, with punchy low-end bass. One thing I found annoying was the lack of a midrange tone adjustment via the touchscreen interface. Other than that, I had no further complaints about the Clubman ALL4’s optional 12 speaker, 360 watt sound setup.
Visibility was a bit of a mixed bag. The view from the driver’s seat forward was great, and the gauges were easy to read. The side mirrors were a bit on the small side, but once properly adjusted, lane changes were a piece of cake. Due to the Mini’s barn door style trunk opening, however, rearward visibility was a bit compromised. https://youtu.be/OnmcbFBqvSw
Après-ski, I was once again looking forward to the comfortable (if not a bit dark) Mini’s interior. The heated seats were certainly welcomed. Descending the Wasatch Mountain Range was as easy as it gets, and the paddle shifters made it easy to use engine braking while going down steep sections of the road. The ALL4’s all-wheel drive kept the car on the straight and narrow, even with (rather worn) all season tires.Day 3
An early morning departure from the house left surprisingly little traffic on the roads leading to Snowbird Resort. On-ramps are where this car really shines with the ALL4 all-wheel drive setup. Just when you think you’re about to lose traction, the Mini reminds you that this car has even more grip. In fact, I didn’t even feel stability or traction control intervene, and I genuinely felt like I was pushing the car hard into the turns. That’s how well this car corners. It’s no GT-R, but coming from FWD sport compacts with enough power to melt the front tires around a corner, the Mini does so with agility and finesse rather than brute force.
On the highway, the Mini’s turbocharged 189 horsepower 4-cylinder engine had decent power, but it ran out of steam in the higher RPMs, as most engines of this size tend to do. Even so, the Mini has a top speed of 140 MPH and had zero issues keeping up with traffic. Considering the Mini Clubman S ALL4 weighs a hefty (for its size) 4,519 pounds, it still had surprisingly ample power for passing.
In the canyons is really where this car shines. Little Cottonwood Canyon Road was damp, but the ALL4 all-wheel drive system combined with the mini’s hefty curb weight made this thing a blast to drive around corners. I didn’t even bother with the paddle shifters, or sport mode – the transmission’s programming was that good. Pulling into a scenic overlook reminded me that this car was still on (rather worn) all-season tires, but fortunately the road to the resort was well treated.Conclusion
Looking back at my records, I put 249 miles on the Mini Cooper Clubman S ALL4, and used 9.683 gallons of premium unleaded gasoline in the process. That’s roughly 26 MPG in combined use. By comparison, a Cobalt SS gets about one MPG more in the same conditions, but because the Chevy is made from plastic and is only FWD, it gets slightly better fuel economy.
One thing that did concern me was the reliability of the Mini. While on the highway, the check engine light came on. The car didn’t appear to lose power, and no additional illumination or messages came on, but it made me think twice about the car’s value. With a starting price of $ 32,900, the Mini isn’t exactly cheap when taking the True Costs of Ownership into consideration.
The Mini, therefore, is still a niche vehicle. It has a rather large following of enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fun to drive, is comfortable, and is infinitely customizable from the factory. The Clubman is practical, handles all kinds of driving conditions with ease, gets acceptable fuel economy, and is priced where it is attainable for most consumers. If you go into the purchase with the understanding that there will likely be higher dollar repairs down the road, especially out of warranty, then I think the Mini might be worth a second look.2019 Mini Cooper Clubman S ALL4 Signature Specs
Price As Tested
$ 38,386 (est.)
Front Engine, All Wheel Drive, 5 Passenger, 4 Door Hatchback
2.0 L 4-Cylinder with Direct Injection, 189 HP @ 5000 RPM, 207 lb-ft @ 1350 RPM
7-Speed Sport Double Clutch
168.3 in./70.9 in./56.7 in.
17.5 cu. ft./47.9 cu. ft.
EPA Fuel Economy, City/Highway/Combined
21 MPG/30 MPG/24 MPG