Mini Cooper S Clubman 2008 Review

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The front engine, front-wheel drive Mini Cooper used to be the smallest vehicle selling in the United States at about 145 inches long. The Mini is large compared with the rear engine, rear-wheel drive Smart at only 106 inches long. The French built Smart car is an economy car while the Mini is a sports car that's economical.

Mini of England is now owned by BMW of Germany and is in the second generation of the new Mini. We've examined the old and the new generations as well as the existing second generation. There is tremendous improvement. The engine and transmission are completely new, as is the structure. Like so many cars when you park the old one next to the new one, they have many differences, yet they still have a similar look.

Mini Offers Mini Choices

Now there’s a second Mini Cooper design, the Clubman. With the Clubman comes an oxymoron, it's “More Mini.” The Clubman is about 10 inches longer, with most of that space going to the back seats. Everywhere you’ll read that the Mini is a two-door coupe yet it has three doors? We also see the new Clubman coupe titled as a two-door, yet it’s a five-door. The new Clubman gives you more access to your excess.

If you enjoy technology, and you enjoy driving, then you're really, really, going to enjoy the new Mini and the more versatile Clubman. Looking straight on the Clubman appears identical in the front end to any Mini with large bright composite headlights, fog lights are the same and the grillwork appears identical. We can still put big stripes, Union Jacks and deviating colors on the roof and exterior mirrors.

Clubman’s Special Door Designs

Access to the Clubman is special as there is a little suicide door on the passenger side only. The front part of this little suicide door is the back of the regular passenger door. So you have two doors on the passenger side making loading of passengers and cargo in the back seat somewhat easier. Then one door on the driver's side for the driver. While the standard seating is for five we suggest you consider it realistic seating for four, particularly if you order the superior “Sports Seats.” The little rear passenger door is well executed and sturdy. The copilot must first open their door before the rear seat passengers are able to open their door.

The designers at BMW handled the longer roofline very well. The roof adds substantially to the strong profile. The third passenger door is well integrated into the design. You'll notice the stretch Mini silhouette quicker than you'll pick up on the third door. The Mini can fit tall people well. It's still a car you have to crawl down into it and up out of. It's not a vehicle for the mobility challenged.

The rear end of this car is a hoot. It makes an already cute machine even a cuter as the rear two doors swing outward like an old delivery van or ambulance. Each door is small and light. The passenger side pops open first with the remote key. Half the time you'll only need to open one door. The top half of each door is glass with its own synchronized windshield wiper mounted towards the center above the door handle. When driving behind a Clubman you will notice the shape of the rear door handles indents replicate the shape of the rearview mirror

The rear doors or delightfully complex little machines. You'll enjoy popping the tail end open and using the slide in and out trunk space. The tail lights stay attached to the body and shows through a tightly cut space in the doors. The hinging and dampening is a piece of work. So the clubman has five doors. Six doors if you count the optional sunroof.

Mini’s Safety StoryThe steel unit body gives outstanding crash protection with air bags everywhere for excellent passenger protection. BMW’s Mini division is so proud of the way this car handles an impact that the crash video is on their website.

Take a look under the car where you'll see some attractive aluminum pieces supporting the independent suspension, all Mini’s are front-wheel drive. The Mini, like all BMWs have the hallmark over-engineered body that makes the Mini a premium small car. You might say the Mini is the Rolls-Royce of many small cars. As a matter of fact, BMW also owns Rolls-Royce, the Maxi division.

Mini Power and Transmission Choices

Like the smaller Mini the bigger Clubman comes with three different engine choices and two different transmissions. A normally aspirated model is the base and the turbocharged S model is the top of the line. A diesel-powered model is available overseas, but not yet in North America. All three engines are 1.6 L in size. The mostly aluminum engines have direct injection, superior software and variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust.

A 6-speed manual that moves like a big toggle switch with a clutch is standard. Automatic transmission is available with six well-chosen gears. The fluid drive transmission is quick to change gears at the touch of the optional paddle shifter's or a tap of the shift lever.

The two gasoline engines worked well with each transmission and each has its benefits. Most of us don't need a turbocharger and would enjoy the extra fuel economy of the regular Clubman, even with the automatic transmission and no paddle shifters the response is quicker with the S model. All Mini models now have a sport button by the gear shift lever base. When you press the sport switch the steering and accelerator is quicker and the automatic transmission gets a sportier program.

The Mini’s are loaded with a brilliant technical details like brake energy regeneration. The idea here is not to run the alternator when the engine power is needed for pulling or accelerating. The steering is electric, too.

Mini Utilizes Space

The interior is exceptional in the way space is used. A complex and satisfying execution except for the center mounted speedometer. The interior lighting is phenomenal—as good or better than a production luxury car. They use little light emitting diodes in surprisingly good places throughout the interior. You can change colors at the press of a switch, oranges, blues and groovy.

Managing & Tuning Mini’s Rougher Ride

The ride of a Mini can be downright harsh. The tire noise can be too much, for some it could become irritating. Some people love the “typical go-kart feeling.” To keep your mini as soft riding as is possible, buy a base model with automatic transmission. Avoid the run flat and low profile tires. Now you have a comfortable Clubman. Want a lot of performance—than buy the S model with the sports package.

Many decades ago in Jolly old England, a man named John Cooper worked as a tuner in building hot rods and the like. His building and customization skills became legendary. So much so that now you can buy this independent tuning shops work directly through BMW’s Mini dealers. The quality and thoroughness of the parts coming from John Cooper Works is top drawer. Go ahead and add a new cylinder head, for even more power strap on a supercharger. The JCW (John Cooper Works) can build you a race car, if that's what you need.

High Mileage Fun & Luxury Customizations

Certain cars have us wondering about the owners after reading in the press literature that, “This is a car that appeals to the active and extroverted individualist, the connoisseur who sees his or her car as a genuine statement standing out from the usual crowd in road traffic.” Now, we wonder about Mini drivers, they sound like fun on a date.

It would be pretty easy to write a book about a car like this, because it's so loaded with character and intelligent engineering that's easy to respect. In the midst of rising gas prices, vehicles with this kind of economy in the short term are the heroes. If you're considering buying an economy car, let’s say something smaller than 175 inches long and plan on spending about $20,000 then test drive the Clubman. The Mini Clubman offers most every luxury feature. You can find in a 6-Series BMW. The attention to detail is special. This is a British car built in a very German way.

Your Mini Purchasing Plan

While there is usually a Mini on the lot you can have today you can also plan ahead to factory order your Clubman custom-built to your exact specifications. This is the big trend in small cars. Contrary to popular belief, custom-ordered cars usually cost less than cars from inventory. Because you custom order and can wait you can now go to any dealer to negotiate the best price.

This new Mini Shooting Brake will have tens of thousands of people stepping down into economy. The Clubman may make a great second or third car. The size makes driving around town a lot easier, and the interior space with the seats folded down. Will probably carry over 95% of what you would ever need.

Mini Fun on the Web

Buying a Honda Civic hybrid is pretty simple; pick the color. Conversely, the Mini allows you to be the interior and exterior decorator and for that matter a performance engineer. So before you buy that Chevrolet Aveo, five-door wagon or waste all that money on a Porsche 911 spend some time with the Mini that's right for you. Now, if we've wetted your appetite, go to the Mini website and have fun building different cars for you then set an appointment to drive the one or two variations you might like the most; for example with and without the sport suspension.

For even more mini fun on the website send a Mini mail; click on “Play” and then ‘Mini Mail’ and send your love an e-mail note out with screeching Mini tires driving the letters. There’s a world of entertainment, tips, games, and information all under “Play,” of course.

Take your time. Once you know exactly what you like you're ready to go shopping.

2008 Mini Clubman: Fast Facts

Length

155/155.8 in.

Width

66.3 in.

Wheelbase

100.3 in.

Weight

2,723/2,900 lbs.

Doors/Passengers

5/4

Drive

FWD

Engine

In-line 4-cyl. /In-line 4-cyl.

Turbo

Hp @ rpm

118 @ 6000 & 172 @

5500

Ft-lb @ rpm

114 @ 4250 & 177 @

1600-5000

Transmissions

6-speed Manual / Automatic

City/Hwy

26/37 & 23/34

Gas Requirement

91 octane

Built

Swindon, England

Safety Score

118.5*

Real Price

$19,950

Web Site

www.miniusa.com

*www.informedforlife.org