We already praised in our previous test the unique character of the Mini and the driving pleasure and panache this car offers every meter you drive it. Sliding behind the wheel of this Clubman version, we liked the Mini even more.
The Clubman is bigger, has wider shoulders so to say, but inside the cabin the atmosphere remains every bit Mini. Indeed, the dashboard, door panels and seats are literally studded with styling elements which are so typically and iconically Mini.
The designers did a terrific job, and are only to be congratulated for it. Despite its bigger dimensions, the external proportions are “just right” and this Clubman is timelessly attractive. Just read on…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Full of character
Sitting proudly behind the wheel and looking to the dashboard and the instruments one is again overwhelmed by the stylish execution of Mini hallmarks like the big central, circular instrument, reminiscent of the big central speedometer of the original Mini. The consequent use of toggle switches put you also in the right mood, as they recall the BMC rally cars and production vehicles.
What pleases however just as much – and maybe even more – is the excellent workmanship and finish, along with the quality of the materials used. Indeed, whereas the original character of the Mini is masterfully evoked, there is nothing spartan about this cabin, rather on the contrary. This is the biggest difference with the original, and we certainly don’t regret this. One word of praise is also fitting for the external courtesy lights on the door grips, which project the Mini emblem on the floor when you step in and out of the car at night…
Willing drivetrain adds driving pleasure…
A fine seating position is easily found, and gone is of course the “sit up and beg” position of the original. Everything falls nicely into your hands, and is intuitive to use. Starting the engine goes with a flick of the central start/stop switch, which changes from red to green when the engine fires up. This 1496 cc four cylinder diesel runs very smoothly even from cold, and the dual turbo architecture of this three cylinder lets the ample torque set in from very low revs.
We tested the standard 116 HP version, which provided plenty of pulling power and makes this Clubman quite lively indeed, and never during our test we felt the need for more oomph. Suffice to say that this Mini sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 10,4 seconds, but it is the excellent in-gear pulling power which impresses most and puts a smile on your face. Not less than 270 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm sees to this. Accelerating in fifth gear from 80 to 120 km/h costs only 10,9 seconds. Maximum speed is a very creditable 192 km/h, but even more important is the excellent cruising ability at speeds up to a good 150 km/h.
Tire roar and wind noise are very well suppressed, with engine revs kept very low due to the high gearing and therefore being barely audible. This restful motorway or autobahn cruising stands in stark contrast with the original Mini, and one notices clearly here the quantum leaps in platform design and engineering which have been made over the last decades. And then we say nothing about passive safety, durability and frugality…
Indeed, economical this diesel engine certainly is. Pottering around in town we saw the range indicator climb ever further to a range of 956 km on a fuel tank of 48 liters, showing clearly that average consumption was very low indeed. No effort at all to stay around the 5 liter/100 km mark even in town, dropping well below this figure on the open road. The manufacturer quotes C02 emissions as being 99 g/km, with average fuel consumption being given between 3,8 and 3,9 liters/100 km.
Using the six speed gearbox is also a pleasure. Changes are slick and precise, and the high gearing of the gearbox is very well adapted to the torque characteristics of the diesel unit. It gives this Mini the long leggedness of a big car, and indeed this Mini has no trouble at all to mix with the crowd in the fast lane…
Handling remains a strong point…
The Mini has always been a car with legendary handling, and the Clubman continues the tradition totally. It is a pure joy to flick it through corners, remaining totally neutral and very predictable. It steers precisely, and the driver gets just that ideal amount of feedback from the road surface.
In urban traffic, due also to its compact dimensions, it feels and is very nimble. Add to this the progressive clutch, the sensitive brakes, and it is clear that this Mini is a delight to use everyday in town.
The new Clubman version is longer and wider, and adds just that extra space which comes in very handy in daily use. The two rear doors open with hydraulic assistance, very clever when you are heavily loaded with luggage or shopping bags for example.
It opens for you 360 liters of luggage space, which can be extended to a total of 1250 liters when you put both rear seat backrests down, which are split of course. The four door layout is also quite handy, and the door bins are pleasantly wide.
The Mini Clubman is a very charming car indeed. Totally endearing, with its styling and proportions evoking masterfully the original, and this despite the fact that it is becoming a full size car with length of 4253 mm and not less than 1,8 meters wide, excluding mirrors.
But this is not all. It has a state of the art, frugal, smooth and quite lively dual turbo 3 cylinder (BMW) diesel engine, mated to a slick gearbox and sitting in a very modern chassis and platform, giving this Mini the very impressive accelerations and long legged high speed performance.
It feels at home in town, but also on winding roads and tackles finally high speed Autobahnen just as well. Its cabin engulfs you in a true club like, cosy atmosphere, making every minute behind the wheel a pleasant experience, for you and your passengers. So take this Mini for a drive, and yes, join the club…
Hans Knol ten Bensel