2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman

Holy lift-throttle oversteer, Batman! Even with stability control on, you can swing the Clubman's little butt right around a tight corner. Lots of fun. Not as fun is the torque steer that Joe mentioned, though. I literally was scared to move my hand to shift for fear the steering wheel would wrestle free of my grip.

It will be interesting to see how big a Mini can become before it's just a laughable oxymoron. The Clubman still manages to pull it off, adding some utility and ease of use without looking awkward in the least.

The rear view is somewhat obstructed by the door seam and the dual windshield wipers, but at least you can see something, which is more than one can say about the Mini convertible. My biggest disappointment is with the interior materials. The cheap gray plastic radio knobs look like something you'd find on a $20 clock radio from Target, and there's not a soft surface to be found on the matte-black dash. I understand that BMW has to cut costs somewhere in order to get a vehicle this stylish out the door for less than $25,000, and I appreciate all the unique switchgear, which is a rarity even in luxury cars these days. But after the novelty wears off, you're stuck with an interior that feels much cheaper than what you get in a Mazdaspeed 3 or a Volkswagen GTI.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

New Car Research

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