Real World Reviews: 2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman
Posted 2010/02/03 @ 10:00 AM
By Myles Kornblatt
We receive fleet cars at MotoBullet, and enjoy driving them to give official reviews. There are only two problems:
1. We only get them for about a week, so we can’t assess long-term value.
2. They are usually loaded with more options than the average consumer would not purchase.
This is where our friends at Dealer Auto Exchange have come in. They are allowing us to pick late-model cars from their selection to give an honest review. These are cars that were bought and used by real consumers.
Now we can mix our impressions of how the car was when new, and how it behaves after being used by actual consumers. We can measure results of what can be expected after a few years of real ownership, and/or what you can expected to find on a pre-owned car lot.
This is a 2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman with 21,200 miles. It features a six-speed manual transmission, color adjustable ambient “mood” lighting, and a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine making 172 hp. Options on this Clubman include run-flat tires, Xenon headlights, and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
The first piece of advice we have for any enthusiast is get the “S” version of any Mini Cooper. It has the same 1.6-liter engine as in the regular Cooper, but the “S” gets a turbocharger that adds 64 hp. The next recommendation is don’t upgrade to the automatic – the six-speed manual is balls-on accurate. The regular Cooper is still a fun, agile, and quick car, but remember that Mini is owned by BMW, so its best to have optimal power and control to get the most out of the car (for those who really want to step-up the performance, the 208 hp John Cooper Works car adds about $6k-$7k above the new price of any Cooper S.)
When new, upgrading a regular Cooper to a Cooper S means adding a few extra thousand dollars to the car’s price and losing a few MPGs, but it’s well worth the driving experience. Part of the allure of the car we’re testing is that it offers Cooper S performance for regular Cooper money.
As expected, not much is lost in a car that’s less than a year old. At about 21k miles, this car shouldn’t need any adjusting or replacing of shocks, struts, bushings, etc. for quite some time. The steering is still razor sharp and accurately telegraphs every curve in the road. This is the same go-kart-like experience we had with a factory-fresh car.
The Mini line does a good job of straddling the line of sports car and economy car. The EPA rating on a new Mini Cooper S Clubman is 34/26 MPG highway/city. We didn’t drive this Clubman very conservatively (rarely using sixth gear unless on the highway,) and still returned about 29 MPG.
Inside the controls may take a little while to get familiar. The large center-mount speedometer, toggle switches and thin center console may seem strange to new Mini customers, but they are arranged as logical as retro interior could possibly be. One of our chief concerns when we had a brand new Mini in our fleet was that the interior materials used a high-gloss finish that we were concerned may fade over time. Looking at this car after a year’s worth of regular use, we can report that our fears may be unfounded because it still looks brand new.
The extra room and the extra doors are the obvious differences between the standard Cooper and Cooper Clubman lines. The Clubman adds 9.4 inches to the car, which gets divided between increased back seat legroom and extra rear storage. The added space turns the little car from an economy sportster into a stealth machine for a small family.
Instead of a conventional hatchback, the Clubman uses to small vertical doors. These doors’ inner pillar slightly obstructs the rear view, but it helps this car shed any image similarities to a wagon, so the benefit outweighs the burden in this feature.
The largest ware items we found on this car were the tires and key fob.
The front tires likely won’t last until their estimated 30,000-mile life expectancy. It seems the original owner didn’t rotate them properly -- a common problem in younger cars with under 30k miles. The tires are considered a little bit of a specialty item because they are small, performance-oriented and run-flats. Replacements will cost about $145 per tire. A better option is buy regular performance tires. It will greatly improve the ride and cut the replacement cost in half, which will easily pay for a few years of AAA service.
The key fob has a chrome ring that is inserted like an ignition key in its daily use. So it’s no surprise to us that it shows signs of wear after about a year in service. It’s an extremely minor piece that no one but the owner will likely ever notice, but we would usually expect sharp minds at BMW/Mini to pick up on an issue like this.
Current price ranges for similarly equipped vehicles averages $23,500 – 26,500, this car is currently being offered by Dealer Auto Exchange for $21,975. For more details on this specific car visit Dealer Auto Exchange's website.
Mini Cooper S Clubman review