MF Garage: One Week with Our New MINI Clubman Cooper S

One week in and the superlatives are rolling in for our six door MINI around the MotoringFile HQ. So much so that at least one of us is considering buying our own Clubman after experiencing it first hand. All the attributes we found in our first look at the Clubman are still impressing us after a week of living with it.

While I was a little disappointed to miss-out on the variable damper option with this Clubman, the ride quality of the standard suspension combined with 17″ runflats is the best we’ve experienced in a MINI. It’s such an excellent middle-point between comfort and sport that I hardly miss those variable dampers. Combined with a chassis that feels vault like, eager turn-in, the always excellent manual transmission and you have one of the most enjoyable daily drivers I’ve ever experienced.

The combination of Melting Silver and the Burgundy leather interior has also been a bit of a surprise. Melting Silver is one of those colors that seems to soak in light around it alter it’s look depending on the time of day and/or environment. Inside the Burgundy leather gives the car a rich and almost vintage look that, combined with the modern design, creates a driving environment you don’t mind being stuck in traffic in.


While our car came very well specced at $36,600, I can’t help but think the more impressive figure is the base MSRP of the Cooper Clubman at just over $24k. This isn’t a poverty spec VW Golf, this is a BMW engineered product that feels decidedly more upmarket and (dare we say it) decidedly more premium than anything in its class. Picking one up (even without many options) around $25k feels like a solid value to me.

We’ll have much more on the Clubman as we live with it throughout the year. In the meantime what our your first impressions of MINI’s new Clubman? Let us know in the comment section below.

  • Jon Cammarata

    “poverty spec VW Golf” — using quite a bit of literary license, aren’t we, Gabe?

    The VW Golf base model is hardly lacking in standard features, and by the way, starts at just over $20k—a very significant difference. The base Cooper Clubman is $4,000 more expensive, so I’d expect it to have equal, if not better interior appointments. There are many good reasons whay VW’s Golf/GTI platform is widely regarded as one of the best cars on the planet, all things considered, by the automotive rags.

    • It’s meant to be sarcastic. I’m a big fan of the new Gold. I recently spent a bunch of time in a 2015 Golf (with no options) and left totally impressed. However the Clubman feels better made, more premium and is more entertaining to drive. Whether or not the difference is worth $4k is up to you.

    • Jaymes Deen

      In other words the VW feels like a rental car and the MINI does not.

      Have you ever heard that saying before? Well its true.

  • R.O.

    Gabe, in Feb 2014 you posted a video on You Tube “MotoringFile’s 2014 MINI Cooper & Cooper S review” in which you drove the F56 in Puerto Rico during its launch.

    I was surprised that you didn’t do the same for the Clubman Launch in Georgia. Did you and just not post the video? If not, why not. I liked the F56 video you did.


    • Thanks! Honest answer is that I didn’t have the time given my travel schedule.

  • Hoover

    I haven’t driven it yet. I really loved everything about the car when I saw it in person and sat it in. I was disappointed with the legroom in the rear seat. I’m 6’7″, so the drver’s seat has to go all the way back. The doesn’t leave enough room for your average human leg back there. Really bummed. So now I’m thinking X1 or next gen Countryman to replace my R56 down the road. Not my preferred driving position, but I need the rear seat room for the family.

    • Aurel

      I am 6’7″ myself and in the same “position” (pun intended) The X1 is not going to cut it and is the same as the Clubman. The X3 is a bit better. But lets face it we will always have to pull our seats up a bit when someone is behind us, from kids in car seats to full grown adults.

      I have tried pretty much every car and small SUV (with a $45K cap) in the last 4-5 months on for size with this very concern as the main priority. There are only a few that pass moderately, X3, Q5, RAV4 (surprisingly roomy) and the king of all is the Passat. That car has a cavernous interior that should be used as a template for most midsize cars.

      • Hoover

        That’s good to know about the Passat, although I’m not too keen to buy a VW. Our household currently has a Subaru Forester and my R56. The interior of the Forester leaves a lot to be desired, but it has been a solid family hauler. I would buy another one for me, but it is not a fun vehicle–and I want to enjoy all the driving I have to do. I have a few years before I really need to worry about this, but, like you, I’ll keep trying on other cars for size.

        • Aurel

          We have a latest generation Forester in the family as well, an ’10 and its pretty tight overall, you’re right. The new Outback however is another one with great rear legroom.

  • RakSiam

    I drove a base Clubby yesterday. And while I really enjoyed it and like the car, the price tag still just seems crazy to me. Add a few options and you’re north of $30K in a hurry. Maybe if I drove a lot more I could justify it. They offered to knock $1400 off if I wanted to place an order which was interesting to me since I paid MSRP on both of my previous MINI orders. At least I have something to compare when I go out test driving other things.

    • Jaymes Deen

      I know right, that price tag is just crazy. Let me guess, you won’t be driving in a brand new BMW,Lexus, Mercedes, or any other car north of 30k any time soon. Cause paying over 30k for any car is just crazy right? Well at least you can always purchase say a Hyundai Accent and other cars south of 20k, seems to be like thats your price range.

      • RakSiam

        It’s true. For as little as I drive it makes no sense to pay that much for a car. I had a Mercedes. It was nice until it started having a lot of expensive problems. I’d never buy a BMW based on how poorly their dealers treated me several years ago. Not sure why you think sub-20K is my price range. I paid $28K for my Coupe and about $26K for my 06 Cooper. My current plan is to check the new Civic. fully loaded it’s like $26k. Gets much better fuel economy and has a lot more safety tech and Android Auto. Will cost less to maintain and probably less to insure. I need to drive one first and will once the coupe version is out in a few weeks. Only problem at this point is it’s huge size.