What's the used Mini Clubman estate like?
If there’s one thing we know about the Mini hatchback, it’s that it’s not very maxi inside. Space in the boot and rear is at a premium; that's the penalty you must pay for choosing such a cute, dinky car. Or is it? Enter the Mini Clubman.
In essence, the Clubman is an estate version of the Mini hatchback, but that’s not quite the end of the story. While its origins might give you the idea that its main rival is the Skoda Fabia Estate, it’s actually more spacious than that car, not to mention more expensive. As a result, its most natural rivals are the Volkswagen Golf family hatchback and cars of its ilk.
The engine range starts with a 101bhp 1.5-litre petrol in the One model, followed by a more potent 134bhp version of the same unit in the Cooper. If you want more poke, you can go for one of the two 2.0-litre petrol engines, with 189bhp in the Cooper S and 228bhp (or 302bhp after the 2019 facelift) in the John Cooper Works. High-mileage drivers have a choice of three diesel engines: a 114bhp 1.5-litre in the One D, a 148bhp 2.0-litre in the Cooper D and an 187bhp version of the same engine in the Cooper SD.
Standard equipment on the Cooper model is generous, with cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and air conditioning all coming as standard. Cooper S models get sports seats and that more potent engine but very little extra equipment of real significance.
Having said all that, it’s worth shopping around for a Clubman that fits your ideal specification, because many will have been upgraded with picks from the expansive options list, not to mention two-tone paint effects and decals. For example, cars fitted with the popular Chili Pack, which adds climate control, LED headlights and rear parking sensors, are worth seeking.
Mini has a reputation for building cars that are fun to drive, and the Clubman is no exception. Fast, direct steering means it turns in to a corner eagerly, while tight body control means it barely leans over as it does so. There’s loads of grip, too, and the chassis responds well to the accelerator, so you can easily adjust your line as you go. In short, it’s far more fun that it has any right to be.
The effect is amplified by the engines; even the cheapest petrol has a sporty sound and is perky and responsive, while more potent models are genuinely fast. Diesels, too, have lots of shove, although they naturally don’t sound quite as nice.
The trade-off for the zingy character is that the Clubman isn’t the most comfortable car in the world, with a ride that’s rather firm and a touch jiggly around town. Having said that, it’s tolerably so, and its ride smooths out on the motorway enough that it rarely proves to be an issue.
Inside, you’ll find an interior that looks like nothing else (well, with the obvious exception of another Mini), with a big central binnacle that houses the media display, cute chrome-effect switches and optional ambient lighting that allows you to choose any colour you like. It’s all built sturdily enough, too, although some family cars like the Audi A3 do it better.
As we’ve discussed, space is reasonable by comparison with similar-priced hatchbacks, although the rear seats are a touch cramped; they’re also on the tricky side to get in and out of, due to the Clubman’s low roofline. However, they do at least fold down flat. The boot’s opening is narrower than most, due to the side-hinged doors, but the load lip is low and the luggage area is well shaped. Those barn doors are also useful when you want to load smaller items, requiring much less effort to open than a traditional bootlid.
A facelift in 2019 changed very little on the exterior; the big clue is the Union Jack tail-lights. The 1.5-litre One D and more powerful 2.0-litre Cooper SD diesels were removed from the range, while different model designations (Cooper Classic, Cooper Sport and Cooper Exclusive) with improved levels of equipment were introduced. The Cooper S carried over mostly as before, while the John Cooper Works received a significant power increase.
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