Who doesn’t love a Mini? After all, many of today’s car buyers grew up with rusty versions of the original, and the current car gives you the chance to relive the joys of your youth with all the bells and whistles of today's technology. The Mini Clubman goes one better as it allows you to relive those days and bring your family and their stuff along for the ride.
Cute is probably an accurate way to describe the Mini Clubman. Well, cute with a hint of high-tech modernity – a bit like Wall-E. The Clubman certainly stands out in a crowd, even if it’s slightly more conventional than its predecessor. That model had an idiosyncratic rear door layout. The current one simply has four normal side doors and is much more useable for that.
There is almost no end to the ways in which owners can customise the appearance of their Mini Clubman, so the chances of seeing another car the same as the one you’ve just bought are pretty slim. There are numerous stripes available, plus contrast-colour roofs, bold hues or subtle shades and a whole load of alloy wheels designed, which can be had in normal silver or black.
The Clubman certainly stands out in a crowd
What’s it like to drive?
Have you ever been karting? If you have, you’ll have some idea of what a Mini Clubman feels like to drive. It really does change direction with speed that a cartoon character would find impressive, and it gives you a great idea of what’s going on through the steering.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine in the Cooper model is sparkly and you can make the most of its revvy nature by using the quick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox.
If you like your driving enjoyment to have a side helping of economy, the 2.0-litre Cooper D version is strong and doesn’t drink much in the way of diesel. If you like a bit more punch, the rapid Cooper S model or the full-on firecracker JCW version that will cover the 0-60mph dash quickly.
Have you ever been karting?
A Mini Clubman is a seamless blend of traditional and new – the style is unashamedly retro overlaid with the latest in automotive technology.
There’s a huge central display reminiscent of the speedometer in the original Mini. Here, it houses the display for the infotainment set-up, which is a version of BMW’s iDrive system that’s controlled by a small dial and buttons down by the gear lever.
There are also numerous toggle switches dotted around, and an air-conditioning system controlled through traditional dials. All models feature sat-nav, DAB radio, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and cruise control, which is pretty good.
Everything you sit on, touch or interact with has a truly classy feel. The buttons and levers all operate with slick precision, and the seats feel supportive and well-made. The top of the dashboard and door trims also feel sumptuous and the whole interior ambience is enhanced by the multi-colour mood lighting around that huge central display screen.
Yes, there are cars that feel as classy as the Mini, such as the Audi A3 Sportback or even the Volkswagen Golf. It’s fair to say that the Clubman has both of these licked in the style stakes.
The word ‘Mini’ may not automatically be associated in your mind with ‘practicality’. You’d be surprised because the Clubman is roomy. There’s a whole load of space up front for the driver and passenger, and space behind them is fair for a couple of adults. Just make sure you’re fairly nimble because the Clubman is quite low to get in and out of.
The fact that the Clubman has a pair of rear doors instead of a tailgate compromises access only slightly. Anyway, there’s no load lip to speak of, and the rear seats fold down flat at the tug of a lever, so practicality is genuinely decent.
The rear doors also make loading smaller items pretty easy as you can just tug open one door instead of having to lift a full tailgate. Cabin storage is also fair, with decent-sized door pockets and a smattering of small cubbies around the interior.
Running costs and reliability
If you go for the 1.5-litre engine, it’ll bring a blend of fun and thriftiness, with an average economy figure of around 44mpg in the real world. If cheap running costs are top of your list, the 2.0-litre diesel has an official economy figure of 64mpg.
The Clubman is a reasonable car to insure with groupings starting from 15. If you want the top JCW model, you’ll find it in group 40.
What we love
The Mini Clubman manages to do what so few others manage because it blends a seriously practical and useable day-to-day ownership experience with the sort of style that’ll have you grinning every time your eyes gaze at the car. The smiles will continue when you fire up the engine and pull away because the Clubman provides a truly invigorating and enjoyable driving experience no matter what is under the bonnet, and it will do so without causing you financial pain.
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The Mini Clubman is a car that makes it clear it’s cool to stand out from the norm and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your motoring life. Better still, it manages to do all this while being practical enough that it can fit into your life with the minimum of fuss.
This review was