2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman

I love the way the Mini Cooper Clubman looks. However, I learned the hard way that even though it's 9.6 inches longer than the coupe, four adults don't fit comfortably for long periods of time. The Mini Cooper in general is one of those cars best experienced when it's just the driver, the car, and a stretch of curvy roads; no passengers demanding more leg room, no cargo shoved in the rear hatch area.

The shifter is nearly perfect; I prefer the gluey-sticky feel that BMW is known for over the sloppy-loose feel other brands have any day. Mini incorporates the checkered flag theme throughout the car, from the seats to the dash accents; it's very fitting given the S version we tested. The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder is a great engine; it sounds great from inside the cabin and the turbo whistle can be put to tune by your right foot. The Clubman S sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds (the same as a Volkswagen GTI). Unfortunately, as others have noted, torque steer is very prominent.

Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator

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