First Drive

2016 Mini Clubman Cooper SD All4 review

Are you a Mini devotee? Then the Mini Clubman All4 gives you family-friendly space and four-wheel drive. We drive it in the UK to find out if it's worth the expense

Words ByJohn Howell

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2016 Mini Cooper SD Clubman All4

We rather like the latest Mini Clubman. You get the space and versatility of a VW Golf hatchback fused with a welcome splash of Mini-style joie de vivre.

This All4 is the latest addition to the range and gives you the option of four-wheel drive on the higher-end Cooper models. You can choose either a Cooper S with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, or the Cooper SD we’re testing here, fitted with a 2.0-litre diesel. Our test car also came with the eight-speed automatic gearbox (a Β£1750 extra over the standard six-speed manual).

Thanks to a healthy power output you get not only a decent turn of speed but also competitive fuel economy allied to CO2 emissions that put it on a par with the four-wheel-drive Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI 150 Quattro for efficiency, although the BMW 120d xDrive is more efficient still. That means the BMW will offer cheaper company car tax, although it is more expensive to buy.

What’s the 2016 Mini Cooper SD Clubman All4 like to drive?

The Clubman All4 feels pretty brisk pulling away from a set of lights, but it’s the diesel engine’s healthy mid-range power that makes this an easy car to drive. It allows you to blend with fast-moving traffic without ever having to stress the engine.

The automatic gearbox plays its part, kicking down promptly when you need a burst of acceleration. However, in the name of economy it will try to pick the highest gear possible if you're pottering along, which can occasionally drop the engine revs too low, in turn sending a shimmy through the steering wheel as the engine labours. Otherwise, engine vibrations are well isolated and it sounds relatively smooth for a diesel, although you're always aware of the background thrum.

Our test route was mainly a mix of bone-dry and damp urban streets and dual-carriageways, so it wasn’t the ideal place to test the All4’s added traction. That said, having talked to Mini’s engineers about how they’ve tuned the four-wheel drive system to work on snow and ice, we’d be surprised if it wasn’t a boon in fairly tricky conditions.

At lower speeds the steering has a dead patch around the straight-ahead, so you find yourself adding little corrections to keep it tracking straight. Otherwise the All4 feels light and nimble around town, and any vagueness in the steering soon disappears once you hit motorway speeds.

The Clubman All4 has a softer ride than the Mini hatchback and it compares well with rivals. There's a mild bobbing sensation over lightly rippled roads but enough compliance to ride most ridges and potholes comfortably. Larger potholes send strong vibrations through the cabin though, and the suspension gets quite noisy if it's working particularly hard. As your speed picks up so does the wind noise around the windscreen pillars, but road noise is fairly well contained depending on how coarse the surface is.

What’s the 2016 Mini Cooper SD Clubman All4 like inside?

Anyone used to the smaller Mini will be at home in the Clubman All4’s stylish and premium-feeling cabin. Behind the wheel you get the same pleasant feeling of compactness, but it still offers the space and adjustability to allow tall people to get comfortable.

Forward visibility is excellent; to the rear, the central pillars of the twin boot doors limit your view, so think about options such as a rear camera or parking sensors.

Rear seat space is fine for two adults, or three at a push, while the two boot doors give easy access to an accommodating luggage area. It’ll hold a couple of medium-sized suitcases without the need to drop the rear seatbacks, plus there’s extra storage under the boot floor.

Cooper trim gets you a reasonable equipment tally. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard for the diesel (the petrol comes with a manual), plus you get 17in alloys, sat-nav, cruise control, a DAB radio and Bluetooth. Safety features include eight airbags and automatic city braking.

Should I buy one?

Only choose the Clubman All4 if you think you will reap the benefits of four-wheel drive on slippery roads, and only then after trying the cheaper but brilliant Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI Quattro to fully inform your decision.

What if you don’t need four-wheel drive? Well, the A3 is still our favourite car in this class, so we’d plump for that. However, if life's serious side means a bigger car is a must but you love the sense of fun you get from a Mini, then we could fully understand if you went for a cheaper Clubman than this one instead.

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What Car? says…

Rated 3 out of 5


Rivals

Audi A3 Sportback TDI 150 Quattro

BMW 120d xDrive


Mini Cooper SD Clubman All4 auto

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£27,390

Power 188bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-62mp: 7.2 seconds

Top speed 138mph

Fuel economy 58.9mpg

CO2 output 126g/km