Home » The Mini Clubman Is Dying And It’s All Your Fault

The Mini Clubman Is Dying And It’s All Your Fault

Mini Clubman Final Edition Topshot
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The Mini Clubman is counting its days. Pretty soon, this quirky wagon will be headed to the great production line in the sky, and it’s all the fault of enthusiasts. The holy grail for many internet car enthusiasts is the brown, manual, diesel wagon. While the Clubman never made it to America in oil-burning spec and the second-gen model was available in burgundy rather than brown, two-and-a-half out of four ain’t bad. Still, this elongated icon was never a sales success. At least it’s getting one last special edition before it shuffles off this mortal coil.

R55 Clubman

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

This first iteration of the modern Clubman was gloriously weird. Sure, it was a five-door station wagon, but not in the traditional sense. Two normal front doors, one rear-hinged door on the right side of the vehicle, and barn doors out back all combined to make a stretched Mini that was hilariously unsuitable for right-hand-drive markets like, I don’t know, England. Still, cargo space was up big time over the regular hatch model, and the half-door made rear seat access a breeze. Sure, four wiper blades made annual servicing a bit more expensive, but it was worth it given the nimble chassis and proper practicality.

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Unfortunately, the old Clubman just wasn’t big enough for most people searching for a more spacious Mini, so the whole vehicle got a much bigger redesign in 2015. Length increased by more than a foot, width was up by more than three inches, and the wheelbase had grown enough to fit two full-sized doors on each side of the vehicle. Mind you, despite model bloat of biblical proportions, the revised Clubman was still more than 11 inches shorter than a Mk7 Volkswagen Golf wagon.

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Despite being more of a maxi than a mini, the second-generation Clubman was genuinely good to drive. Its sharp steering and chassis made the Volkswagen GTI feel positively sterile without sucker-punching its driver in the coccyx like a Ford Focus RS every time it rolled over an ant. The B48 two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine may have only pumped out 189 horsepower in Cooper S trim, but the torque curve was absolutely prodigal. What’s more, the B48 was massively more reliable than the Peugeot-derived N18 motor in the old Clubman Cooper S, to the point where the second-generation Clubman Cooper S is a rather sensible used car pick.

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What’s more, the Clubman is genuinely practical. There’s 17.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, perfect for a week’s worth of shopping. The rear seats are sized for actual adult humans and don’t require occupants to undergo Cirque du Soleil training for ingress and egress. We’re talking about a Mini sized for Americans without being a full-blown crossover like the Countryman.

Mini Clubman Final Edition interior

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If everyone drooling on the internet over brown, manual wagons simply put their money where there mouth was, there’d be a Clubman at every car meet. Sure, it was a bit expensive, but niche products almost always are. Enthusiasts are a small subset of the car-buying public, so products catering to them usually carry higher price tags to recoup development costs. Still, if you keep from falling head-first into the options list, it’s possible to spec out a Clubman for reasonable money. The Clubman Cooper S starts at $33,895 including a $995 freight charge and comes with heaps of standard kit. Also, barn doors! Those are such a rarity outside vans.

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Mind you, I wouldn’t expect the Mini Clubman Cooper S Final Edition to be particularly inexpensive. With flash copper accents, wild wheels, and dark maroon leather, this is a Clubman that went to town at the options buffet. Available only in Nanuq White, Enigmatic Black, and Melting Silver, only 1,969 of these run-out models will ever be made. As for what will effectively replace the Clubman, all signs point towards a sub-Countryman crossover previewed by the Aceman concept. It feels like Mini’s almost telling us that we get what we deserve, doesn’t it?

(Photo credits: Mini)

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Sarah Bell
Sarah Bell
1 year ago

That’s disappointing. We’ve owned our 2017 Clubman S since new, and it’s been a great all-purpose car that’s given us almost no trouble. And while the sticker was high, there were big discounts available at the time and it ended up being about 15% under MSRP.
Also disappointing: the boring color options on the special edition. If you’ve ever seen a gathering of Minis (they do an annual event called Mini Takes the States), it’s wonderful to see just how many of them are actual colors instead of white, black, or greige.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
1 year ago

“…Still, cargo space was up big time over the regular hatch model…”
??
Maybe with the rear seats folded, but with them up the cargo space was not much more useable than a regular R53. We thought the Clubman would be the perfect combination of R53 fun with dog-hauling practicality but, after checking out the Clubman, stuck with our Cooper S.
Our tribulations with Cooper S alternators are another story.

Dolsh
Dolsh
1 year ago

Yep. Count me in the blame group. The Clubman finished second in my choice of new car 3 times. I still look at them longingly, and 2 of those 3 times I actually think I made the wrong choice.

121gwats
121gwats
1 year ago

Any Mini w/ more than 2 doors shouldn’t exist, the suicide 1/2 doors of the original Clubman get a pass, as it was just a little longer. I found it drove like a Camry though, compared to the first gen. Not a bad car if you really need that extra 7 cubic feet.

Scott Keels
Scott Keels
1 year ago

I ordered a heavily optioned 2008 R55 Cooper Clubman 6-speed having never seen one, much less driven a MINI before, and have greatly enjoyed 110K miles of driving without any serious problems. The only car I’ve enjoyed more is a 901 911 I drove daily for 9 years.

At the time I knew there was a fairly high premium paid for the ability to option the car to precisely to meet my needs, that even the non-turbo engine was sure to be junk by 100K miles, and was willing to overlook the craptacular plastic interior, but absolutely love the car for its handling, quirky style, and ability to carry a lot of cargo. For me it is vehicular perfection.

In 2015 I planned to replace it with an All4 F55 Clubman S manual, but after an unimpressive test drive was encouraged by the dealer to continue enjoying the R55. Sadly BMW has deviated from MINI’s origins and now I cannot bring myself to purchase one of the last JCW Clubman since they’ve given up on the proper gearboxes which would help overcome the F55’s bloated size and weight.

Most frustrating is the bundling of options typical of automakers attempting to reduce production cost, but it’s completely infuriating that the world is left without a small, nimble, manual transmission wagon offered by any brand. So unfortunately I’m left with the alternative of either the cost of $20K++ for a restoration and living with BMW’s fragile aging plastics, or having to suffer with a larger, less engaging new vehicle with a slush-box.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 year ago

I always wanted an R55 Clubman, but the price premium and general unreliability always kept me from pulling the trigger. The BMW Minis are an absolute hoot to drive…when they can drive. I had a 2022 Mini for a rental a few months ago, and between the interior bits already being cracked at 4200 miles and the cruise control and rear wiper not working, it reinforced my decision not to own one. They still tempt me though…

121gwats
121gwats
1 year ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

1st gen is dead reliable, though they’re getting pretty old. Look for maintained 05-06 S, no regrets will be had.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 year ago
Reply to  121gwats

That was the recommendation of a coworker as well. He had an ’05 S and it has been pretty reliable. Sadly, finding those in good shape is another story altogether.

Myk El
Myk El
1 year ago

I’d told Mini more than once they should have started their EV campaign with the Clubman. The larger body should have allowed for more battery and more range. I would have seriously considered. I had a 2003 Cooper S for almost 15 years and boy did that get pricey out of warranty. Great fun, but yeah, don’t buy one without a warranty if you can’t afford two.

Sean Hannay
Sean Hannay
1 year ago

My wife had one of the first ‘16s to roll off the boat. We cross-shopped with several other small wagons and crossovers, but the Clubman was the only one that elicited an emotional response in her. Really liked how we were able to do an essentially bespoke order then; unfortunately MINI has moved more towards option packages. It was fun to drive and dead-nuts reliable, never giving us any issues. I think MINI’s reputation in the US was damaged by issues with the R-series cars, but the F-series are very good IMHO.

MegaVan
MegaVan
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean Hannay

My F-series has been problem free as well other than some wax and headlight ring issue.

Certainly a lot of misconceptions based on the R-series.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
1 year ago
Reply to  Sean Hannay

I wish they could have mixed the R series character with the F series reliability. In 2016 I test drive a 2016 F56 Mini S back to back with a 2013 R56 Mini S, both 6 speed manuals. I’m glad I did that as I was ready to order a custom build 2016 JCW that day. The R56 on the test drive was a characterful giggle fest, particularly with the proper turbo lag and nimble feeling. The F56 was super refined and just not exciting, plus it felt huge, which relatively it was. I ended up buying a used R56 Mini S with all the JCW and GP upgrades one could throw at it and loved driving it until the day the maintenance plan ran out. That specific day I parked it and only drove it occasionally until I was able to replace it with the 99 BMW E36 M3 I daily today.

I was really let down by the driving experience of the F56, it just wasn’t fun, very isolated feeling. I’ve since had the opportunity to autocross race an R53 Mini S with the supercharged engine, that was epic fun and I kinda want to build one into an autocross build now.

Acid Tonic
Acid Tonic
1 year ago

Not even 190hp from a turbo 2.0 is a huge joke. Honda literally makes more hp naturally aspirated.

If these were the 300hp turbo manual trans vehicles they should have been I would have taken a look.

189hp for turbo reliability is a biiiiig pass.

Dan Parker
Dan Parker
1 year ago

My wife settled on a used ’06 base clubman with the auto after VW bought back our ’14 golf TDI. It was an absolute riot to drive, WAY more agro than you’d expect. Very stiff, very direct, even compared to the pretty heavily modified Miata and M roadster I had at the time. It was also a flaming pile of shit, wouldn’t touch another one with someone else’s pole. All the typical BMW bullshit cooling and electical issues were irritating and the failing trans was the last straw. Donated it to get it gone and no one was sad to see it go.

MiniDave
MiniDave
1 year ago

I swear the Clubman in the article looks blue with a brown interior?

Only comes in black, white and silver? Sheesh……more greyscale……

Matt Huber
Matt Huber
1 year ago

You don’t get to blame me for this. I work on cars for a BMW dealership and keep these heaps of junk on the road for other people. I did my part.

MkeZ
MkeZ
1 year ago

I loved the extra space but never considered it because of the split rear doors… just too impractical for me. Get rid of the 4 door MINI and merge that and the Clubman together… You don’t need both!

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago

It’s BMW’s fault because they make shitty cars 🙁

BMW Minis are known for being piles of shit in terms of reliability

Chad Geidel
Chad Geidel
1 year ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

I get that’s the usual case, but my 2012 Cooper S is still going strong after 120k miles. I “only” had 2 serious issues – a thermostat (which is a BMW design and was over $1000 to replace) and a fuel pump relay (which again was BMW design and needed the replacement of the comptuer for $1200).

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 year ago

When I was looking at the Crosstrek, they had a Clubman. Both were manuals, same year, same basic mileage.

The reason the Crosstrek won was it was 2k less. Otherwise a tossup.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

Man, I really loved the Clubman, but with the nearest dealer 45 miles away, I wasn’t too keen on giving the Mini brand a chance, even though I’ve heard the latest gen has been far more reliable than the last.

Bummer though. Now the cheapest available wagon is… a V60?

Trecoolx
Trecoolx
1 year ago

I like the exterior and practicality of the Clubman, but the interior design of modern Minis and the barn doors turn me off. Granted, I like stern German interiors (VWs, Porsches), so I’m not the proper audience based on dashboard looks.

Thevenin
Thevenin
1 year ago

Back in the 1990s, my family had a gold Saturn SW1 station wagon with automatic shoulderbelts that occasionally got caught in peoples’ hair. We would fit two adults, two children, and a 110-pound mutt in that thing and have room to spare.

Nowadays, my parents got a CR-V. It’s 9 inches longer, 6 inches wider, and over a foot taller, and somehow it feels more cramped than a 2016 Civic hatch, as if Honda is saying, “Just get the Pilot, you know you want it.” My in-laws actually did get the Pilot to have room for the one child and zero dogs they have left under their roof. They extoll the virtues of its AWD while climbing mild paved inclines.

The first time I noticed a Clubman on the road was in 2017, and I did a double-take. It’s built to the size and the “bigger isn’t better” sensibility of that old Saturn. It’s like someone carved out a piece of the 1990s and transplanted it into modern day, in stark, exuberant defiance of the canyonero arms race.

I have coveted one ever since.

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
1 year ago

I always thought I wanted a Clubman, but reality won at the end of the day. It was/is far cheaper (including cost of ownership) to have a manual R53 and a used TDI Sportwagon. The result? I have a better Mini AND a better wagon than you get with the Clubman. Jack of all trades, master of none, etc, etc…

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago

I love the styling of Minis but they just don’t make a ton of sense cost wise. You’re paying a lot of money for style and parts that are essentially hand me down BMW. As soon as all the desirable option boxes are checked most of these cars, Clubman included, come out to be around 40 grand or even more.

It’s just too much to pay when things like the GTI, Civic variants, et cetera exist…and boy will you continue to pay when it comes time for maintenance and repairs, because you’re getting all of the German fussiness and over engineering with none of the badge prestige. Put BMW neuters these soooo much. The B48 makes 250ish horsepower in all of their own products.

Blah. I would love to love these on principal alone but when it comes down to Xs and Os it’s no surprise to me that Mini’s products aren’t really relevant anymore. If they took some of the BMW out of them I might be a little more enticed, but alas.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

“the torque curve was absolutely prodigal”

Imagine saying this about a 2 liter engine that makes 207 lb-ft of torque.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Torque curve and peak torque are two different things.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Of course, but let’s keep some perspective.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Not every engine can be a burbling 8.3 liter V10 or supercharged V8. It’s okay to give some love to the mortals every now and then. I’ve driven a 330i that has this engine and it’s really responsive and punchy off the line. If you told me at the time that it was a BMW straight 6 I might have believed you.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

Alright, I give, I give.

Seemed like an odd word choice is all. Plenty of stronger 2.0Ts out there too.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yeah the one in my car is a riot

RWilhelm
RWilhelm
1 year ago

The Clubman has always been a neat idea, but would have benefitted by being built by anyone other than Mini. Too expensive for a new purchase and too fragile. Years ago Car & Driver had a long term test of a Cooper S (I think?)… it was hilariously bad. The interior design of the new Mini’s has always been a turn-off as well.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  RWilhelm

My issue with Mini is you’re paying a premium for a car that’s made of less reliable components. The styling is fun and apparently they’re a little more engaging to drive than a lot of the competition…but I’d rather not deal with German headaches in a car like this. And you can trust me on that considering I traded a GTI in on my Kona N.

RWilhelm
RWilhelm
1 year ago

Yeah, not sure what you are getting for that premium. I always want to like the GTI’s and other VW’s, but can’t justify the headaches with those either.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  RWilhelm

I bought mine new and it had 3 unscheduled visits to the service bay in the first 5,000 miles, incinerated pretty much all of its consumables in the same timeframe, had a cruise control system that would glitch out and fail to work entirely about a quarter of the time, and by the time I traded it in at around 10,000 miles it was having ignition issues.

I’m never dealing with VW again. My sister bought a Tiguan around the same time that had even more issues than my GTI did. She and her husband got out of it after 2.5 years. I’ve seen enough. I get that Hyundai doesn’t have the greatest reputation either but 6,000 miles in I’ve had 0 issues with the Kona N and I beat the absolute piss out of it. Combine that with the 10 year/100k powertrain warranty that covers track use and 3 years of free maintenance and overall I feel a lot better about my current situation than I ever did with the GTI.

RWilhelm
RWilhelm
1 year ago

Sounds about right! I knew quite a few people with new VW’s in the ‘00s… and all of them had drivetrain or electrical issues. Pretty sure they all had the 2.0L turbo of that era as well. Test drove a ‘17 GTI for the hell of it, but came away unimpressed with the feel and design. Ended up getting a Focus ST instead, and haven’t had any issues in 6 years.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  RWilhelm

You made the right call. The FiST is a living legend and offers something the VWs don’t…character. Everyone talks about how the GTI and Golf R are sooooo refined and whatever but guess what? They’re hot hatches.

I don’t want a hot hatch or performance compact to feel like a luxury car. If I did I’d go buy an entry level luxury car for the same money. I want them to be loud, harsh, unrefined, and a bit of a handful. At the end of the day that’s what the hot hatch ethos is all about to me. They’re supposed to be economy cars with a bunch of performance bits tacked on.

My car actually gets compared to yours as far as the driving experience goes, so I think we probably have pretty similar taste. I like a little torque steer. I like to have to manhandle my car at the limit. I like not having a bunch of systems interrupting my fun. Some folks call those things flaws…I call them character.

RWilhelm
RWilhelm
1 year ago

The FiST was a consideration, as it was a closer in size and character of my SVT Focus. The FoST won out in passenger room and a few more niceties than the FiST was available with. The GTI was kind of boring (love the plaid cloth, though) and the shifter felt too light and disconnected. Tried a previous gen WRX, too… but the interior was just a bit too cheap and the lag/throttle mapping/engine tuning was really weird. The newer WRX is a lot better with most of those complaints.
I do like the N cars, but I think I am done with the fun FWD segment moving forward.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  RWilhelm

Sorry, I misread Focus ST as Fiesta ST. But my points still stand. The Ford hot hatches are fun and characterful.

C Accetta
C Accetta
1 year ago

Bummer news. I still daily my 2010 Clubman and I love it. Sure, it’s getting expensive to maintain (hence my screen name) but now that they’re killing the model I’ll hold on to my R55 even longer.

The Clubman is dead. Long live the (weird, fun and practical) Clubman!

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 year ago

“Despite being more of a maxi than a mini…”

The current Clubman is 10″ longer, 7″ wider, 2″ taller, and, depending on configuration, between about 1100 and 1400 pounds heavier than an Austin Maxi, so I think it’s fair to say that it’s not just more of a maxi than a mini but also more of a maxi than a Maxi.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

And BMW retained the trademark registration for Maxi when they broke up Rover Group. Given MINI’s trajectory, it’s weird they never used it

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

They should sell a Maxi accessory to slip under your Mini to keep the oil off of your driveway.

Chad Geidel
Chad Geidel
1 year ago

Strong disagree. MINI has been sterilizing its models for years – turning them into small BMWs instead of retaining the MINI charm. Expanding the Cooper to include a 4 door model and having the Countryman in the lineup basically removed the need for a middle version. They should never have made a 4 door Cooper, and even the Countryman shouldn’t have had 4 doors IMO.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Chad Geidel

I was never a fan of the current Clubman, the previous one, yes, but, I missed out buying one new, and now they’re too old and too BMW-y to be practical as daily drivers, but too new to be vintage

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

AKA about to hit the bottom of their depreciation curve….just sayin!

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

The R53 Mini was the hottest car out there when they were launched. Everyone wanted one and you couldn’t get your hands on one. Their resale value was amazing, until people discovered they were unreliable. The R53 had all sorts of charm as you said, a combination of the Rover design lineage and BMW’s epically good line up in the late 90s and early 00s. Unfortunately BMW lost their edge starting in 2002 with the 7 series and the story never stopped in their quest to remove all character from their overly perfected cars.

Chad Geidel
Chad Geidel
1 year ago
Reply to  Chad Geidel

I’m reading this again and I goofed. The CLUBMAN shouldn’t have had 4 full-size doors. The “half doors” on the first-gen BMW MINI (the second image – blue MINI) were perfect.

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