Motor Trend Pits the MINI Clubman vs. Hyundai Veloster Turbo

There’s a pattern for MINI “shoot outs” in the mainstream press that I think is pretty interesting. It goes something like this:

  1. Match a MINI against some other small car
  2. If possible, choose a non-hardtop variant from the MINI lineup that doesn’t quite make sense for comparison
  3. Emphasize the price difference, even though there are less expensive MINIs than the one tested
  4. Complain about the MINI’s weird interior while, ironically, yawning at the competitor’s
  5. Drive the cars
  6. Point out that the MINI is less comfortable (Thanks, runflats!)
  7. Point out that the competitor is less fun. A LOT less fun.
  8. Bring up the price difference again
  9. Declare the MINI the better car for people who like to drive, but include some sort of back-handed statement about “value”

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just interesting how consistent it is. The latest example is Motor Trend, having chosen to put the MINI Cooper S Clubman up against the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. On the surface, this seems more like a comparison of convenience. I think they’re really just trying to give the Veloster Turbo a fair shake and they needed a yardstick. Ironically, the extended wheelbase MINI turned out to be a longer yardstick than anticipated.

At first glance, the spec chart shows the two are packing about the same heat: direct-injected 1.6-liter turbo-fours, six-speed manuals, practically the same-size brake rotors all around, and virtually identical combined EPA fuel-economy ratings (Hyundai’s 30.3 mpg versus Mini’s 30.1). On closer inspection, the Mini — having given up 20 hp and nearly as much torque, and running slightly narrower tires along with a higher weight-to-power ratio — doesn’t appear to match its more energetically charged counterpart. And the Veloster Turbo takes 87-octane fuel, where the Cooper S Clubman thirsts for 91 or higher. It’s starting to look like the new boy is about to pull a fast one.

But the Clubman takes the Veloster to school in the real world. Quicker and more consistent in testing, more adept at communication, and compassionate at the gas pump (30.5 observed mpg to the Hyundai’s 25.2), the Mini skillfully handled mountain roads, city streets, and the highway patrol with authority and expert steering. That grizzled tuning team at Mini — or BMW, depending on how you want to view it — knows how to extract a smile from the driver.

It’s an interesting comparison and I’d like some seat time in the Veloster Turbo myself. I wonder though, would better tires really close up the gap? Either way, formula notwithstanding, go check out the full article over at It’s a good read.

[Source: Motor Trend]
  • jbkONE

    So they tested a Hampton and complained about the price? COME ON! I’m sure they could spec a Clubman to be the same as whatever Veloster they want to test without selecting a special model.

    • Dr Obnxs

      The magazines don’t get to choose what features are on the cars… They set general preferences and are at the mercy of what’s in the press pool. For some reason, it’s been my experience that more heavily contented MINIs are in the pool, and base cars with little or no options, are not.

      • Yes as the press cars are usually also cars that appear at Auto Shows and various MINI events in addition to the press being able to use them. The magazines are definitely at their mercy for what may be available.

  • donburnside

    The Veloster and Clubman are direct competitors as far as MINIUSA is concerned I’ve heard. I forgot the reason why, but it made sense at the time.

    • VanMINI

      third door?

  • indimini

    From a price standpoint, a fully optioned Veloster turbo (w/ manual trans) comes in at just over 25K which is lower than the price of a base Clubman S. So the price comparison is definitely not in MINI’s favor. As pointed out, MINI pricing has never been a brand strength in head-to-head comparisons.

  • Miguel

    Why the hell would you compare a clubman to the small veloster anyway?

    • Because the Veloster isn’t that small. It has a wheelbase 4 inches longer than the Clubman and its overall length is a foot longer.. Not to mention inside, they aren’t that different in dimensions.

    • Jay

      If you look at specs alone, it’s a fairly comparable car. I actually was comparing the two myself. I ended up just going with the Clubman S after I drove it and skipped the Veloster Turbo. Definitely the best choice.

      • Don Hopings

        The Veloster is, well, UGLY…

    • VanMINI

      because they both had a single third door?

    • Mills

      Actually the Mini Clubman is over 10 inches shorter, and 4 inches narrower than the Veloster. A lot of people seem to misjudge the Mini size. I’s like the Fiat Abarth, which is always reported to be a size smaller than the Mini, yet it’s a 1/2 inch longer than the R53. So if the R56 is the same size class as the R53, how is the Abarth whitch fits between the R53 and R56 in terms of length a much smaller car?

      As for why would they compare the Clubman to the Veloster? I think the main reason is because both have 1 extra door to ease rear passenger ingress/egress, which is unique to these two cars.

      • Don Hopings

        I think the difference is footprint versus interior volume. The sloping roofline of the Fiat limits the headroom in the back. The MINI doesn’t have that problem…

  • John

    I really hate it when people compare prices and then complain about them being too high. there is an old saying and it goes “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR”. The MINI is clearly the better car, thats why you pay more. Tell me how the hyundai has 20 more hp and torque yet it is slower, and that they both have the same sized sengine but the MINI is the only one to get the claimed MPG figures. Its because they are engineered cars, not thrown together and then marketed as a rival to its competitors.

  • Chris Underwood

    Seems to be a regular thing for Korean cars to get lousy gas mileage. rated at 30, gets 25. My wife’s Kia is the same way. It’s quite a scam.

  • Aurel

    i have a Clubman and have tried the Veloster (not that I was going to but one) … the Veloster’s back seats are UNUSABLE. unless you are a contortionist or The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  • Matt

    Besides the fact that the Veloster is hideous…

  • Bob Hayhurst

    Hmmm…let’s see, both have 1.6 liter motor, Turbo, direct injection and yet some how the Hyundai pumps an extra 20 HP. It would be interesting to see the Hyundai on a dyno to see how much, if any, the listed HP, torque figures are overstated. Looking at the performance numbers, I just don’t see a 100 lb weight differential between the two having such a profound effect on the Velosters numbers. Maybe it’s the tune on the Hyundai, I don’t know. Also, a 5 mpg decrease in real world (observed) fuel economy more then offsets any additional fuel savings attached the Velosters use of regular grade gas. And besides, like Matt just said, it’s hideous…

  • Joe

    When I read the title of the story I predicted the kind of journalism that would appear in the story itself. It was basically exactly what was depicted at the beginning. i think what a lot of automotive publication tend to leave out of their tests is that driving pleasure and putting a smile on the drivers face come at a price. And those considering something like a mini (while it may be a small, compact, fuel efficient car), are willing to pay that premium. The mini still is probably one of the best in terms of bang for your buck as far as driving excitement goes.

  • Anyone who’s read my blog knows I was gung ho on the VT but Hyundai’s inability to deliver any to SoCal turned me off (out of 400+ out there, only 15 are in CA and almost all are automatics) and I am excited to be getting into my third MINI instead. I think it is a neat car, great technical package but its no MINI for the driving experience.

    Looking at the forums right now no one is getting more than 31mpg on the highway, not sure if that is heavy feet or engines needing breakin but I’d say no one is getting 40 or even close to it.

  • BAR

    And now the second factor in the great decline of magazines. It’s not just the access to online content that’s killing them, it’s their sleep inducing formulaic approach to comparisons and their legacy ‘ads fund our project’ bias.

  • fuseonn

    i think a comparison is needed between the cooper works and the focus st

  • RB

    Seems not that unusual that the MINI wins most of these. I loved my MINI’s and did so for 9 years. I now drive an ABARTH and love it. Yes Nathaniel it’s not a MINI as you stated up at the MTTS day at the Chicago race course but one fun car just the same.

    As far as the statement about the rear headroom in the 500, I can say, as I sat back there, it’s not that tight and I found it quite comfortable.

    BTW… I find it odd you spelling MINI the way you did? Isn’t that a gripe you have with other auto journalists, seems I’ve read that here?

    Ciao, Roberto