2012 Mini Clubman Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Stylish, fun, practical, and full of character. by jesse.swartzendruber
We've had our S Clubman for about a year and a half now. It's at about 30k miles, so the honeymoon phase is over. I still get a huge grin on my face every time I drive this thing.
We've had our Cooper S Clubman for about 2 years now, and it's about to hti 30k miles. The honeymoon phase should be over, but we still love this thing. I'll go into what we love first
There are a few things that aren't awesome.
- Styling. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but you even if the styling isn't your thing you can't help but notice these are very well put together. And honestly I haven't run into anybody that doesn't absolutely love the way this thing looks. Things like the little chrome details and the curves in the hood, I just can't get enough of them.
- Power. This thing is proper quick (given its category), and responds pretty immediately to any input you give it. Then you find the 'Sport' button and it actually transforms into something even feistier. The steering stiffens up, and throttle responds more immediately, and you even get the occasional little pop from the exhaust.
- Agility. Yes, these handle like go-karts. The steering response is immediate and spot-on. Also, the steering is awesome-light at low speeds while still feeling connected. The steering in this car has spoiled me.
- Character. This car oozes character. The interior has fun little touches like interior lighting (you can change color and intensity) that's only as annoying as you want it, the gigantic circle in the center stack (there's a digital speedo in the usual spot), toggle switches in the center stack. And the noise, oh the noise. I love the sound of the exhaust and engine. It's aggressive-sounding without being obnoxious. Love that growl.
- Practicality and Efficiency. This car is at least as practical as the Mazda3 we used to own. The backseat on the Mazda was easier to get into, but didn't have any more room. There may have been slightly more cargo area with the seats down. Another plus as far as I'm concerned is the gas mileage. We're getting about 35mpg in mixed driving. On the one extended highway trip we took we saw 41mpg without doing anything special. We've never put anything other than BP Premium, have no idea if this affects mileage or not but thought I'd put that out there.
- Sunroof. The thing is massive, and awesome, and the best I've ever had in any car. Probably about 75% of the roof is glass.
- Free maintenance for 3 years / 36k miles.
- Heated seats. They heat on the bottom and back, and it feels great in the winter.
- The Automatic. It pained me initially (wife can't drive stick, didnt' want to learn in Chicago traffic), but the automatic does a fantastic job of getting in the gear it should be in, and doing it without much fuss. You can also feel it downshift as you slow down, and I love that.
- Stereo. The Harman/Kardon sound system has its moments (reliatlvey clear mids and highs, can get very loud and very punchy), but is overall a let-down given the pedigree. The main reason is the bass. The car uses relatively small drivers and sounds like it's doing some electronic bass boost in an attempt to hit lower notes. Unfortunatley, it also inflates other bass notes. Depends on the source, though. iPhones hooked up through their official connector are the worst. The few Android phones I've tried just hooked up through aux input sounded more reasonable. I've found fading the sound to back speakers by '3' helps even out bass.
- Interior fit-and-finish. While the interior is attractive, and the sport seats hold in very well and are very comfy, it isn't all great. There's plenty of noise from the sunroof just above the passenger's seat up front, and occasionally you'll get some rattles in the doors from music.
- Long-Term Reliability? Not sure about this one, and that makes me nervous. The only issue we've had so far was a the rear sway bar links, and we're at 30k miles. Common issues include the timing chain tensioner (according to online forums anyway), and I specifically asked them to check that at last visit just to be safe and all is well.
So after 2 years, we still love this car and are glad we picked it over some of the cars we looked at (Veloster Turbo, specifically). Long term reliability is a big question however, even though the car's given us no reason to suspect anything major will be going wrong soon. Sure, I wish it didn't have as many rattles, and I wish the H/K sound system lived up to its name, but I can't help but smile each time I get to drive this thing.
If you want something FUN to drive that gets above average fuel economy for its class and oozes character, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything better that a MINI Cooper. And if you want a little more practicality, the Clubman deserves a look.
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