Review: The skinny on the 2008 MINI Clubman S

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MINI Cooper Clubman interior
You’d never know it only has 172 hp. It is one powerful little car! I took a turn onto a freeway onramp at a good rate of speed, and when I accelerated into the corner, I was glad I had a good grip on the steering wheel with my left hand! I felt the wheels grabbing at the pavement as I punched it into the next gear and it was almost scary! Okay, I WAS scared – for about 5 seconds. Then the silly grin took over, again. In fact, it was really difficult to keep at the speed LIMIT. You could take tight turns EASILY 10+ mph over what was posted. It just HUGS the road. It was actually one of the funnest cars I’ve ever driven.

While I never found myself in an emergency braking scenario, I did hit the brakes a few times just to see how they reacted. The MINI stops really well. Makes sense, since the car is pretty light in curb weight. I’d feel confident that if I had encountered an emergency braking situation, I’d have been able to stop just fine (without having to test out how well the airbags deployed!).

After I put the MINI through some paces, I’ll never look at another one the same way again. The MINI is a sports car. Nimble, agile and steady as a rock. Light as a feather in the turns, but extremely stable. I threw a lot of different scenarios at this car: fast accelerations (on-ramps, lane changes), quick decelerations (off-ramps, red lights), fast uphill corners, fast downhill corners, a fast turn into a freeway on-ramp, a steep uphill, short u-turn – the list just goes on and on. The MINI accepted all of these assignments and passed with flying colors.

2008 MINI Cooper Clubman

Another WOW. There are endless colors, trim colors, and options to go with the MINI. The one I drove was sharp. A beautiful blue, with silver trim and roof, chrome details, and the British Flag detailing. I saw a LOT of people checking this car out in the short time I was driving it. Every detail of this car just fits. The round headlamps suit the car. The fog lamps match the headlamps (check this for sure). The rear window is tinted, which is a nice touch (and helps with security if you have anything in the back!). Even though the front window seems kind of square, again, it just fits in with the car and doesn’t look out of place.

If you buy the stock version, the value is really great ($23,540). Once you start adding features (as the model I drove had), the price starts climbing. As equipped, this version was: $29,600. However, when you consider that a sports car will cost you considerably more, and a fuel-efficient car will likely be slightly less, the fun-factor and gas mileage make this a worthwhile car. The MINI has a 3 year/36k full maintenance program, 4 year/50k limited warranty, 12 year rust-perforation limited warranty and a 4 year/50k MINI road assistance program. Add to that the safety features of the MINI: SIX airbags and include side curtain airbags.

On top of the warranty and safety features, add all of the standard features of this car: remote keyless entry, passenger-side rear club door, split rear “barn doors” with gas-charged struts for easy opening, A/C with microfilter and air-recirculation, CD audio system with AM/FM radio/six speakers/auxiliary input/pre-wired for a CD changer, power windows with one-touch up and down, check control and vehicle monitoring system with display, flat rear load floor with under floor storage and split folding rear seats, adjustable tilt/telescoping/leather/3-spoke steering wheel, 6-way adjustable seats, driver’s side (only) side sun visor (in addition to the front one – brilliant!)j, turbo-charged direct injected 1.6 liter, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine (172 hp), 6-speed manual Getrag transmission, MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension, electronic power-assisted steering, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, ABS, CBC (Corner Brake Control), EBD (Electronic Brake force distribution), TPM (tire pressure monitoring), DSC (dynamic stability control) and LATCH child seat anchors. None of these features listed added to the overall price of the car.

2008 MINI Cooper Clubman 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman Xenon headlight 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman cargo area

In addition to ALL of the features listed above, the model I test drove had: Lightning blue metallic paint, blue leather/carbon black cloth interior, the Clubman Launch Package (Power folding mirrors/heated mirrors and washer jets/heated front seats), the Premium Package (dual-pane panoramic sunroof/automatic AC/MINI HiFi sound system), the Sport Package (17-inch alloy wheels/sport suspension/Xenon headlights), a limited slip differential, chrome line interior and exterior, and white turn signal lights.

I mention all of these packages and extras because they added up to $6k over the base price of $23,450!

While it did add a lot to the price tag, those features were all very, very nice. I didn’t think that the overall price point was too high, given the quality of the car, the mileage and its obvious fun factor.

2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman

Would I buy it? If I wasn’t a bike racer and didn’t need to travel to races with bikes, teammates and my dog, yes. It would be great to have as a 2nd car. Some day, if I win the lottery, I’m buying a MINI Clubman S for my “fun car”. If you want to have a blast driving, yet feel like you’re driving a “green” sports car, then this is your car! It screams, “I’m a FUN person!!!”.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.75 4.75 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.75 4.9/A-

MINI USAThe official MINI of North America website –

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  • SCLUBMAN says:

    Well done on the review.. Glad that you could see the Clubman for what it is: a fun, driver’s car rather than a just compact hatch attempting some form of practicality. This really is about emotion, exhilaration and aesthetics taking precedence over functionality.
    Perfect for anyone who values the journey as much as the destination.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey thanks for the GREAT review! LOVE IT!

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