Jalopnik Interns Review the Clubman

One of the more interestingly written reviews I’ve seen in a while. This time, by a few of the interns at Jalopnik.com, who didn’t really care for the ’09 Clubman with automatic transmission.

The strong hoonage quotient promised by the turbocharged 172 HP four-cylinder and a chassis overflowing with Bruce pushed us to nail the progress pedal to the floor despite ever-tightening road geometry. The MINI responded with its best Mr. Plow impersonation and we promptly ended up on the gravel shoulder. Something was amiss. The standard-issue MINI Cooper S would consume such a surface like a German inhales a liter of Hofbräu during Oktoberfest.

This is the first time I’ve seen anything negative written about the handling of a MINI. I’ve driven a Clubman and thought it handled almost exactly the same as an R56.

Of course, they also aren’t keen on the ride, which we should be used to reading about by now. And, they finish off with some not-so-kind words about why you should or should not buy the Clubman.

You’re extremely wealthy and like small cars. You never liked going around corners that much anyways. The most exciting thing that could possibly happen to you in the course of a day is spotting another Mini in exactly the same color and getting the driver of it to wave feverishly at you. You used to have a regular Mini, but now you have a small dog.

Be sure to read all three parts.

[ 2009 MINI Cooper Clubman S ] Jalopnik.com
  • Seth L

    Of course, they know the easiest way to start a flame-war is pick on a car with a devoted following and exaggerate its flaws.

    Poor Jalopnik. They used to be my go-to car blog, but they’ve gone downhill a lot in the past year.

  • mike

    i see people complaining about this review all over the net. I say big deal. not everyone is going to like everything. Take it for what it is, an opinion.

  • Shamus

    “Are you sure you know how to drive an automatic?”

  • C4

    I saw a similar negativish review over at TTAC (The truthaboutcars.com) and pretty much is made up of the same drivel you see in the Jalopnik commentary.

    Bottom line… The reviewer simply doesn’t get what the car is all about. Most of the guyts are RWD, V8, high HP gear heads that make their darnest attempt in rationalize the MINI in the same way you would rationalize a toaster oven or a Toyota Camry.

    I find their opinions to be mostly irrelevant in the big scheme of things. There are cheaper or equally good/better cars than the MINI, yet the MINI retains a very particular aspect of attractiviness to the equation that very few, if any, cars in its price range can successfully match.

    I’ll look up an excellent comment post made by someone that does not own a MINI but gave an eloquent response to the negative portrait of the Clubman in the TTAC review.

    I’ll look it up.

  • C4

    2009 Clubman S review (From TTAC):

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009-mini-clubman-s-review/

    Copy of the excellent post/rebuttal to the above review:

    Yes, the LSD is well worth the 500 clams.

    There’s nothing wrong with this review, aside from its irrelevance. The Mini is easy to dislike from a left-brain buyer’s perspective, but analytics aren’t driving sales. Minis — all of the variants — are a right-brained and emotional buying decision. Unlike other fashion cars introduced over the last ten years, Mini has retained its street cred as a personal statement car, undiminished even in fad-happy places like Los Angeles where coolness is sometimes measured in hours.

    Mini’s buyers don’t care about any objections raised here. It’s all nitpicking to them. The paltry dealer network; BMW pricing for service; the cramped interior; the growly engines — none of it matters. For buyers, the car looks the part. Its interior is a break from the numbing sameness of mainstream cars. It looks and feels like a tough little bugger. Mini has way more cachet and go-kart feel than a utilitarian Honda Fit. It’s just more fun. And who cares about what won’t fit in a Mini? It sits low enough you factor in what fits on it. The Clubman just offers a longer roof for cargo.

    I don’t fit in Minis, so I’m not a likely customer — ever. But reviews like this one miss the point of the car. Rational buyers can stay away in droves. It won’t matter; Mini will still sell. For the person who likes to “wear” a car, no 3 Series will suffice as substitute. For the driver that likes the perceived surefootedness of FWD, no 3 Series feels as secure. A Fit’s proportions are too ungainly and goofy. Fit really is a goofy-looking car, regardless of its engineering and manufacturing excellence. A lot of people just aren’t caving in that far to a minor inconvenience in gas prices.

    Moreover, Minis are small — even Clubman — and to most people that translates to thrifty and “responsible.” Else, why do 15 mpg SUVs earn ire but 15 mpg small sports cars don’t? (Yes, my eye is on you RX-8.) No one knows the mileage — fuel efficiency is assumed. Mini is “proof” that environmental responsibility and style don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Only pocket-protector types actually believe a Prius looks attractive. Designers want Minis.

    Legions of people embraced the 1st gen BMW Mini’s raspy, wheezy Brazilian four pot mill. Do you think any of them even notice roughness in the current 1.6L? It’s butter by comparison. They probably like it. Mini is, after all, a car of sensations. Among neutered, numbed, novocained blandmobiles flooding most of the market, Minis are visceral, tactile, tingling and full of butt-comprehending information.

    Notwithstanding the usual BMW obfuscating UI and the geeky design flourishes in and out — and not really fitting inside — I nevertheless like these cars. They are tougher than they look. On the Clubman, the Dutch doors out back make perfect sense in bumper-to-bumper urban parking. The darty handling implies responsiveness to most owners and the Clubman’s longer wheelbase makes it a little more forgiving on long trips, even for the solo pilot. These days, $24K – $30K is not expensive for a new car and those who fall under that reach will buy used or select something else on more utilitarian grounds. For completely different reasons, other than perhaps Hummer, Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DTS, there’s probably no other car for which the TTAC review perspective matters less.

  • Seth L

    Wow. Thanks for finding that.

  • Doug

    DB,

    Do you guys want to post the new Automobile Magazine 4-seasons review of the Hardtop S?

    One thing they assert, that open-diff MINI’s are better than the limited-slip equipped MINI’s. They say there’s less torque steer (which they say is terrible on the revamped MINI S). The car only gets 3 stars, I think.

  • Nice work C4, thanks for digging that up.

  • Rob

    It seems to me that the Automobile Magazine MCS review is more nitpicking and discounts the things that really count to most Mini drivers (eg…handling, performance, fuel economy, and fun factor). They seem to be obsessed with the torque steer (problem) and the quirky interior.

  • David

    I searched the review and could not find it, that most over-used phrase that simply MUST form a part of reviews of all things MINI. And then, I found it, oh joy!… but, you must load the photo of the interior to see it. Yes, that’s right folks, in the caption, dinner plate… oh, such a turn of a phrase… sigh…

  • C4

    I have yet to experience any serious torque steer problems in my Clubman S.

    Truth be told, neither Jalopnik or TTAC have ever been fans of the MINI. Those guys like Honda Fits and Toyota Yaris way better.