Paying more for the Cooper S brings you the bigger, more powerful engine and, in standard trim, the eight-speed automatic gearbox. You also get satellite navigation, seats that hold you in place better around corners, and a three-spoke, leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The Cooper S also rolls on bigger, 17-inch wheels, shod with tyres of a lower profile (which bring more grip).
And you get three driving modes, which let you adjust the accelerator response while you’re driving. A rotary switch at the base of the gear selector allows you to choose Green (for a lazy response and better fuel economy), Sport (for a more energetic response, or Mid (which is in-between).
A wide range of option packages is available for both Clubmans, which add styling touches and equipment. Popular packages include Multimedia Pro, which brings a bigger (8.8-inch) multimedia screen, a 12-speaker sound system with digital radio, and a head-up-display, which projects speed and navigation details onto a small screen just above the steering wheel. This helps you keep your eyes on the road.
A Driver Assistant Package gets you some camera-based safety systems. One is radar cruise control, which slows you to the speed of a vehicle ahead. Another is automatic emergency braking, which works at city speeds: it will help brake the car if it sees a looming collision before you do. A third is high-beam assist, which dims the headlights automatically if it detects an approaching vehicle at night.
Another key option, available on either model for less than $1000, is adaptive dampers. This allows you to adjust from the cabin how the suspension responds to bumps: more stiffly, for improved handling, or more softly, for greater comfort on bumpy roads.