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MINI Clubman shows new character for family life

13:57 25 February 2016

MINI Clubman now boasts four passenger doors but retains the twin side-hinged rear ones.

MINI Clubman now boasts four passenger doors but retains the twin side-hinged rear ones.

MINI

The new MINI Clubman is more practical and refined but still great fun to drive, says Matt Kimberley.

What’s new?

The Clubman is the new ‘fifth pillar’ of MINI’s sales efforts going forward. Four conventional passenger doors join the traditional side-hinged two-door boot in place of the single half-door on the right-hand side (the wrong side) of the old one.

The engine is new, too – a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel with a useful chunk of torque, but it’s refinement where the biggest leaps have been made.

MINI Cooper Clubman

Price: MINI Cooper D Clubman, from £22,245 (range from £19,965 to £27,410)

Engine: 2.0-litre, 148bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel producing 243lbf.ft

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 8.6 seconds; top speed 132mph

MPG: 68.9 combined

CO2 emissions: 109g/km

Looks and image

The relatively low roof and long wheelbase that shoves each wheel as far out to the corners as possible makes it look long but it’s actually a couple of millimetres shorter than a Volkswagen Golf hatchback and a few centimetres lower. It looks wide too, again despite being almost exactly the same as a Golf. The MINI is a more rakish option and its dimensions suggest it has the size it needs to compete – even if it does hide that size less well than others.

The styling is pure MINI from the front but some people won’t like the back end.

Space and practicality

A 360-litre boot is a bit smaller than the competition, but the rear seat backs can be positioned upright for more stacking room, a 40/20/40 rear seat can be ordered, complete with full load-through facility, and there’s a ‘secret’ compartment beneath the boot floor. The tailgate can be opened by hand, from the remote or, with the comfort access pack, by waving your foot beneath the bumper.

Rear door apertures are tight at the bottom but there’s plenty of legroom for average-height adults.

Behind the wheel

Super-fast steering characterises the MINI’s drive. It turns into corners so much faster than competitors that it takes a few miles to get used to. Precise and relatively light, it’s easy to get the best from it under normal driving.

The new diesel engine is one of the smoothest and quietest – so refined even from very low revs. As the car gets rolling the noise disappears into the background behind a modest veil of road and wind roar round the A-pillars and door mirrors.

Value for money

While you do get sat-nav as standard on Cooper grade and up, without the Chilli Pack it gives away quite a lot to certain rivals. Adding Chilli makes things much rosier, but its price then treads on the toes of very strong alternatives.

Residual values are boosted by adding the Chilli Pack and are likely to contribute to low PCP finance rates.

Who would buy one?

Young and growing families will look at the Clubman with fresh eyes. All of a sudden MINI has a do-it-all car that drives with a degree more character than its rivals, offers almost endless scope for customisation and will cope with most of the demands of family life.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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