The 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S comes with a media system with a 6.5-inch display, a leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel, standard seats with Carbon Black Sensatec upholstery, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Metro News Service photo

Mini Clubman Cooper S provides plenty of distinction, personality

Vehicles should come with personalities. I drive more than 60 new vehicles each year, so believe me, I crave those with distinction and personality. Thank goodness for my tester this week, as the Mini Cooper Clubman has loads of both.

The entire Mini product line has distinction. Previous reviews have used the words joyful, go-kart like, and exhilarating. All those superlatives apply to the 2020 Mini Cooper Clubman, too.

It is a joy to drive. And it handles and performs like a go-kart. Driving is supposed to be fun, after all. And the Clubman is a blast! My tester was the basic Clubman S and it comes with a 189-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The John Cooper Works upgrade of the powertrain adds significantly more power. I could only imagine how much fun that engine would be with its 301 HP.

The squatty handling is superb through twists and turns which is why it really feels like a go-kart. The seven-speed transmission is good, although some gearing feels reserved. There is a small amount of turbo lag off the line.

The exterior is where the Clubman boasts a lot of distinction, too. The big round headlights dominate the front end. It’s almost too cutesy on the front and lacks enough aggression. On profile it looks more like a short station wagon with its boxy shape and straight roofline. The back side is the most interesting and doesn’t want for personality either. The split rear door swings out, not up. The rectangular taillights seem to lose conformity with the front of the vehicle. But the Cooper Clubman is quite easy to find in the crowd and for that alone, the styling is a winner for me.

Continuing the theme of distinction, the interior is equally unique. In fact, some critics find the Mini’s interior to be a little too quirky. It has many things that make it stand out – none more so than the ignition toggles and the round infotainment screen.

The circular infotainment screen dominates. It rises out from the center of the dashboard and screams its presence. I personally like it, but it’s one of those designs that is love or hate with no middle ground. I find the infotainment system to be cumbersome and not intuitive, but the ambient lighting and the vibrant feel of the interior is much appreciated, despite the systems flaws. They get an A for effort.

The rest of the interior takes some luxurious cues from the BMW mothership. Soft touchpoints are found, and the ambient lighting and accent features are a nice touch. The back seat has ample headroom thanks to the non-slanted roofline. Rear legroom is ample; overall, it’s comfortable for adults, which is refreshing for a compact vehicle like the Clubman.

My tester did come with the John Cooper Works trim which included a panoramic sunroof, 40/20/40 rear seat split, heated front seats and lots of John Cooper styling. That comes at a price as an $8,000 add-on.

As tested, the base price for the Clubman was $30,900 which is affordable for a vehicle that is so much fun. With added features like the Iconic JCW trim and a few other niceties, my tester had a final MSRP of $40,600. The Mini Cooper S Clubman is a fair-valued vehicle, considering the joy versus amenities you get. But, as always, value is subjective.

The 2020 Mini Cooper S Clubman has an EPA rating of 26 mpg/city and 34 mpg/highway. I averaged nearly 29 mpg during my week with the Clubman.

I’ve overused the word distinction throughout this review, but it really fits. I appreciate the Mini Cooper Clubman for having a great personality. It was a blast to drive. And its little quirks inside appealed to me. As for me, I enjoyed my time behind the wheel.

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