Can a Mini with the footprint of a Volkswagen Golf still be called a Mini? In the case of the Clubman, the answer is yes, because it’s still blessed with the charm that makes this brand unique.

For instance, the cargo-van rear doors compromise both cargo loading and rear visibility, but wow, do they look cool.

The base model, with its 134-hp, 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder, sends decent power to the front wheels; a sportier 189-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four and all-wheel drive are optional.

The base engine feels stronger than its poky 0-60 mph time of 10.5 seconds. It’s a bit hesitant from a full stop, but there’s midrange passing clout backed by a gravelly engine note. We measured 28 mpg, disappointing for a small car.

2016 Mini Cooper Clubman front studio

HIGHS: Handling, character, roomier than any other Mini
LOWS: Ride, noise, visibility, controls have steep learning curve
POWERTRAIN: 134-hp, 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbo engine; 6-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
FUEL: 28 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $31,550

Despite being the largest Mini, the Clubman hasn’t lost the Mini fun factor. It hugs the road, turns into corners with verve, and snakes through the avoidance maneuver at our track with ease. The ride is firm, without transmitting the kidney punches of its brethren.

A fun and funky interior features chrome-tipped toggle switches and a round infotainment screen—which requires a steep learning curve to comprehend. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and the rear seat is hospitable for adults, although head, knee, and foot room are stingy.

Other small cars are more practical, but few are more fun.

Read our complete Mini Cooper Clubman road test.

2016 Mini Cooper Clubman rear

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.