Extended test: Mini Clubman 2021 review

Everybody (and the dog) in the club

More Info

Mini Clubman specifications

  • Model Mini Clubman F54 Cooper S Sport
  • Price £26,790 OTR
  • Price as tested (with options) £31,575
  • Colour Midnight Black
  • Cost options fitted Midnight Black paint (£795); 19” John Cooper Works Course Spoke alloys (£500); Sport Automatic DTC Transmission (£1,800)
  • Engine 1,998cc, 4-cylinder, petrol
  • Transmission 7-speed automatic with dual-clutch
  • Power output 192bhp @ 1,250rpm
  • Torque 280 lb ft at 1,350-4,600rpm
  • Weight (DIN/EU) 1,280kg / 1,305kg
  • Luggage capacity 360 / 1,250 litres (seats up / rear-seats folded)
  • Top speed 142mph
  • 0-62mph 7.3sec
  • Fuel consumption (WLTP combined cycle) 44.1mpg
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP) 145g/km
  • VED (road tax) £230 for first year; £165 thereafter
  • BIK tax payable (2020/21) 33%; £1,828 (20%) or £3,657 (40%)
  • Insurance group 27E

Test details

Test period February to July 2022
Starting mileage 739 miles

Updates

  1. April 4, 2022 First impressions of the Mini Clubman
  2. May 17, 2022 The scores from the paws … how dog-friendly is the Mini Clubman?

April 4, 2022: First impressions of the Mini Clubman

Extended test: Mini Clubman 2021 review

Compact, sleek, sporty, upmarket and retro. It might sound like a roll call for a Spice Girls spin-off but these are the adjectives that best describe the Clubman Cooper S Sport, on first impressions, at least.

After my previous review took me into large SUV territory, I was pleased to have a less gargantuan vehicle on test. The Clubman had piqued my interest over recent months, as it picked up The Sunday Times Dog Friendly Car of the Year prize, in part thanks to the car maker’s collaboration with the Dogs Trust. With many UK families now having to factor a post-lockdown pooch into their car-buying criteria, I’m keen to find out if the Clubman barks louder than rivals when it comes to dog-carrying.

Extended test: Mini Clubman 2021 review

Some surprises helped my early evaluations get off to a positive start. Mini has been super-generous with the model supplied, namely a very sporty Cooper S that has flashy John Cooper Works upgrades, such as the steering wheel, seats and wheels (full details to come in future instalments).

It’s taken a while to get acclimatised to the low ride compared with the SUV I had last year, but the go-kart vibe is welcome, as is the punchy acceleration: 0-62mph is achieved in 7.3 seconds.

The interior is snug and comfortable, and while it can accommodate five passengers, it’s clear that anyone with longer legs won’t want to be seated in the tight back row on a long drive. 

Mini has a very loyal customer base and has come a long way under BMW ownership in recent times to broaden what is still a relatively small range, layering in new derivatives and spec options on what is essentially the same iconic shape, famous round headlamps and interior design cues.

Probably the most distinctive feature of the Clubman is its six-door set up, with the split barn door rear opening. I’ve seen these frequently on display on the road and in local car parks and they certainly are an intriguing point of difference, so it’ll be interesting to see if they’re a gimmick or a clever design feature.

I can see the advantages as it negates any height restrictions when loading the boot, but you need to be careful with any potential obstacles on either side and it’s taking time to adjust to the door frames obscuring the rearward view — a point I’ll return to in future updates.

Extended test: Mini Clubman 2021 review

The Clubman doesn’t seem to have a lot of rivals, as it’s pitched as Mini’s estate car but there aren’t too many estates this small: an Audi A3 Sportback or Skoda Fabia Estate are ones that jump to mind. But with this engine and JCW sports upgrades, it’s verging on hot hatch territory, too.

With this in mind, the Dogs Trust partnership starts to make sense, as it’s a clever hook to persuade people to take a chance on its quirky design. I’m all too well aware that winning our favourite pets’ hearts and minds is a strong way to win their owners’ car budgets.

Next time, I’ll be getting forensic on the Clubman’s dog friendliness, with subsequent review instalments looking at its drivability, tech features, options and specs.

I do a solid mix of motorway, urban and rural journeys, so it will be a good test to see if the Clubman can be the ultimate alternative all-rounder family car. My brood’s busy weekly schedule and some exciting road trips should see to that.

  • Mileage this month 742 miles
  • Mileage to date 742 miles
  • Average economy 38.1

As ever with our extended tests, you can ask questions at any time via Tina’s Twitter account or the comments below.

Tweet to @tina_milton Follow @tina_milton

May 17, 2022: The scores from the paws … how dog-friendly is the Mini Clubman?

How dog-friendly is the Mini Clubman?

You know your dog approves of a car when she hops into its boot of her own free will. So, when our cavapoo Jessie bounded into the back of the Mini Clubman on the second week of its arrival, it was a definite vote of confidence.

To do it this quickly was her equivalent of bopping a furry paw on the Britain’s Got Talent golden buzzer – top marks.

To be fair, a low boot sill (which makes it much easier for her to jump into) was among the reasons the Mini Clubman scooped the Dog Friendly Car of The Year at the News UK Motor Awards 2021, alongside split rear doors and a dog accessory pack.

Its compact boot is surprisingly spacious for a smaller car but the perfect size for our Jessie, with the mesh dog guard (£150) providing a secure divide and keeping her from jumping into the back seats. There is enough room for a small- to medium-sized dog like ours to turn around and find a comfy spot for the journey.

Netted side cubbies are a bonus for storing the dog essentials always needed on road trips, from waste bags and whistles to leads and treats, as are the integrated cubbies in the split barn doors. Underfloor storage compartments offer even more room for emergency dog supplies if needed.

Opening the Mini’s rear doors one at a time is a useful feature when you don’t want the entire boot exposed. Opening them remotely via the key fob is particularly good when having to lift a dirty dog into the boot after her swim in a forest lake (followed by rolling around on a muddy path, for a tar and feather effect).

A word of caution though, use them with care and ensure clearance space — the automatic pinball flipper-style doors can be enough to catch out humans who are standing in their way or walking past.  

Mini Clubman dog guard

The dog pack has ensured that the boot has remained relatively pristine, despite the lake-swimming antics. While she may look (and act) like a princess, deep down Jessie’s a mud monster who loves to have a raucous roll in ditches and a spin in the sand, so the all-weather car boot mat (£50) has been a welcome shield for the Clubman’s interior, while also helping us avoid many extra hours of scrubbing the boot lining.

The mat is easy to wipe clean so smaller mud clumps can be mopped up or hoovered in-situ, while it’s also simple to slide out and hose down for bigger clean-up jobs (a life saver after post-beach carnage). A boot space divider could also be a useful addition for travel and shopping bags that need to be separated from the woofer.

While tethering points (including the Isofix anchors) are ample in the boot, unclipping Jessie’s lead from them can prove somewhat of a battle as fittings are snug and stiff.

We found it easier to use the dog guard – using one of the lower rungs works best so that Jessie still has plenty of space to sit and lie down. It’s our fail-safe in case she attempts to jump out once the doors are open. The Mini’s boot has a very handy, hidden hook that flips down from its flush position on the boot wall if you need a quick post-walk clip point while you take your boots off, but the dog guard is the sturdiest option for attaching her harness for journeys

Extended test: Mini Clubman 2021 review

The Mini’s rear tinted windows have also helped keep the glare off our Jessie, as it’s important to keep her temperature down as the summer approaches and the weather hots up. All car-driving dog owners know the importance of avoiding any unnecessary sources of stress, so this extra type of protection from the sun is most welcome.

In line with the adage that the best things come in small packages, for our mini mutt, the Mini Clubman hits a sweet spot.

However, while it’s a winner for quick trips around town, weekend escapes and park runs, for extended jaunts, it doesn’t offer quite enough room for suitcases, bags and dog paraphernalia. Dog owners who want to take their hounds on longer stays may need to explore roof-box options, buy a trailer or size up to the Mini Countryman. Larger dogs will want the extra space to stretch out, too.

  • Mileage this month 1,002 miles
  • Mileage to date 1,744 miles
  • Average economy 38.2

As ever with our extended tests, you can ask questions at any time via Tina’s Twitter account or the comments below.

Tweet to @tina_milton Follow @tina_milton

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