MINI Clubman: Two-Minute Road Test

MINI Clubman: what is it?

This is the MINI you should buy if you want Volkswagen Golf practicality. It’s 270mm longer than the five-door hatch, making it the biggest MINI ever. Yup, bigger than the Countryman.

MINI Clubman: what are its rivals?

MINI’s gone properly upmarket with its Clubman. With prices starting at £19,995, it’s aimed squarely at the more premium end of the segment. You can pick up a Golf for less, but not only does the MINI Clubman offer more kit for your money, it’s also much more of a fashion statement.

MINI Clubman: which engines does it use?

MINI Clubman: which engines does it use?

The Clubman Cooper D is the first car in the MINI range available with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel from the BMW 3 Series. This is likely to be the most popular engine in the Clubman range – especially with MINI hoping to increase fleet and corporate sales thanks to the Clubman’s increased practicality.

The petrol units are the same as those offered in the hatch – so the entry-level Cooper kicks off with a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol, while thrill-seekers should look at the 192hp petrol Cooper S.

MINI Clubman: what’s it like to drive?

The MINI Clubman is brilliant to drive. Based on BMW’s versatile UKL platform (similar to Volkswagen’s MQB), the Clubman has the same underpinnings as the 2 Series Active Tourer. But that doesn’t dilute the MINIness of its driving experience. With short overhangs and following the ‘wheel at each corner’ philosophy MINI is known for, the Clubman handles like a proper MINI.

Around town it’s a smidgen on the firm side – MINIs often are, but it’s fun to weave through traffic. The extra size is hardly noticeable. Even the diesel is quiet, while the engine note of the Cooper S isn’t intruding unless you intentionally build up the revs. And then it sounds great, especially if you stick it into Sport mode and enjoy the pops and crackles from the exhaust.

MINI Clubman: fuel economy and running costs

MINI Clubman: fuel economy and running costs

Those who care about efficiency are likely to buy the four-cylinder 2.0-litre Cooper D diesel. This returns 68.9mpg and emits 109g/km CO2. For those after a mix of performance and efficiency, the Cooper SD returns 62.8mpg and 119g/km when combined with the manual ’box.

While difficult for company car drivers to justify, the thrilling Cooper S isn’t exactly thirsty. It’ll return 45.6mpg and 144g/km CO2 with the manual gearbox – or 48.7mpg and 134g/km with the eight-speed Steptronic auto.

MINI Clubman: is it practical?

Bigger doors means the MINI Clubman is easier to get into than its predecessor, while its split-opening rear doors allow easy access to the boot. Space in the rear seats is comfortably adequate for a pair of adults, but the panoramic sunroof fitted to our test car did impede on headroom.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this provides estate-car levels of practicality, either – with 360 litres of boot space, it’s got room for a similar amount of cargo as a Mercedes-Benz A-Class or Volkswagen Golf. Fold the seats down, however, and you’re treated to 1,250 litres of space.

MINI Clubman: what about safety?

MINI Clubman: what about safety?

The MINI Clubman is yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but we’d be surprised if it was awarded anything less than five stars. There’s plenty of safety technology to keep you on the straight and narrow – including an autonomous braking function at low speeds, and traffic sign recognition systems.

One of our only gripes with the Clubman is the blind spot where the two split rear doors meet. It’s not a major safety concern, but it does niggle in the rear-view mirror.

MINI Clubman: which version should I go for?

There genuinely isn’t a Clubman to avoid. We like the Cooper S for the full, fun MINI experience, but the Cooper D is probably a better compromise between sensible and enjoyment. Just be careful with the options – your Clubman could soon get expensive, and odd combinations could affect its resale value.

MINI Clubman: should I buy one?

MINI Clubman: should I buy one?

There’s a lot to like about the MINI Clubman. If you fancy a MINI but can’t manage with the limited practicality of the smaller models, the Clubman is the obvious answer. It’s just as trendy, and almost as enjoyable to drive as the hatch.

Sure, it’s not cheap, but it feels like a real premium product. MINI does attention to detail better than most, and driving a Clubman is sure to make you grin more than any of its rivals. Not everyone will like its looks, and some still despise it for not being a proper Mini, but if neither of these things bother you the Clubman should be very seriously considered.

MINI Clubman: pub fact

Despite being made by BMW, the Clubman is still built at MINI’s Oxford plant. Other models built in the same factory included the Morris Minor and Austin Maestro – it’s certainly not lacking in heritage.