Our cars: hello Mini Clubman

* Do you love the Mini? * Cheeky, but too small? * Masses of options...

Our cars: hello Mini Clubman

Mini Clubman Cooper D
List price
Target price 15,405
Run by Alex Newby
Tested for One month/800 miles

Ive never been able to make up my mind about the Mini: I love its cheeky retro looks and the entertaining way it drives, but Ive always been put off by the cramped rear seats and the tiny boot.

Until now, that is. The Clubman models elongated rear, which provides more spacious seats in the back and a half-decent boot, makes it a much more useable proposition. So I was excited when I collected mine from Berry Mini in Chiswick (020 8996 8686).

It took salesman Neil Raphael 90 minutes to talk me through all of the Clubmans features, not least because of the raft of optional extras Id chosen. Of these, the biggest costs were the satellite-navigation (1395), Bluetooth connection (585) and a huge sunroof (680), which was definitely worth the expense as it brings loads of light into the car.

I also paid 1110 for Minis Pepper pack. This has many items I reckon ought to be standard (such as floor mats, passenger seat height adjustment, front foglights and a leather steering wheel), given the Clubmans premium price, but also includes multi-coloured mood lighting and a reduced price for climate control (230 rather than
a whopping 895 on its own).

I chose the Cooper D engine because I couldnt resist the economical 1.6 diesel, with its claimed 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km. Its a bit noisy and its not lightning quick, but with 177lb ft of pulling power its still pretty pokey, and with the Minis responsive handling it makes trips around town fun. For when I lack patience, I spent 90 on a Sport button for quicker engine and handling responses.

So far, Im enjoying life with the Clubman. The Pepper White livery with black bonnet stripes attracts lots of admiring glances, the cabin is roomy, the dash design is fun, plus its sturdy and good to drive.

The central display is far from intuitive, though, and although the doors feel solid, they can be heavy to use. Fuel economy is short of even the urban figure of 57.6mpg, too.

Still, the Mini is very practical: thanks to the flat boot floor (a Pepper pack feature), with the seats are down I can just slide my cello or rubbish for the tip through the rear doors, no sweat. This all means that, so far, Im definitely in the Club!