“That’s quite a big car!” So said someone on first seeing the new Mini Cooper D Clubman parked outside my house.
For a Mini, yes, I suppose it is and, in fact, it is indeed about three inches wider than the standard Mini 5-door Hatch and has a 4-inch longer wheelbase and almost eleven inches more overall length.
Apart from its size, obvious new features are two, not one, side doors. The hydraulically-assisted double doors at the back of course remain — the right-hand one opens first and automatically on the key fob…that means completely open, so that you’d better be careful that a small child isn’t standing in its way. You can also open the door by waving your foot underneath the car’s rear end.
If the left-hand door is also then opened, it, too, is hydraulically-assisted; when shutting them, left door first, you have to give them a push to overcome the hydraulic resistance. You get used to it, but if the outside is dirty or wet, so, too, will your fingers get dirty or wet.
From the driver’s seat, there is some minor impedance to the view in the rear mirror from the door frames. In the worst of wet conditions, plenty of road dirt collects on the back, but of course, each door window has its own windscreen wiper that clears just about enough to aid visibility. In all other respects, outward visibility was good. The car also had plenty of driver aids to help when parking, with a variety of visual and aural warnings. Sometimes I wanted to get rid of the noises, but the owner’s manual didn’t clarify how to.
The main point of the Clubman is its load carrying capability: even though it is a wider Mini, the boot is not exactly huge. However, there is a very useful hidden compartment under the main boot floor that can hold quite a lot of smaller or more valuable objects. The rear seats couldn’t be easier to fold flat, either at the sides or 40/20/40 in the middle or right across. If there are only two of you in the car, a good amount of stuff can be carried (up to 1250 litres is the official figure).
In the central console on the dashboard is the LCD Ring. This eye-catching device provides a visual display of varying colours, according to, for example how you are driving, or if you have selected the ‘Green’ driving mode for best economy. In my week with the car, mainly in that Eco mode, the trip computer registered 53.3 mpg. There is also a ‘Mid’ mode and ‘Sport’ mode.
Depending on wheel size, official combined fuel economy figures reach up to 68.9 mpg (as a guide for comparison purposes, while, similarly, emission figures can be down to 109g/km, as in the test car).
Words displayed within the LCD Ring remind you that the Mini is ‘fun’ in whichever mode you have set…not sure if we really need that, although to be fair, the Mini is fun to drive.
It retains the excellent steering and handling characteristics of its more slender brothers and the Cooper 2-litre Diesel engine, the first of this capacity in a Mini, has plenty of urge when required. In my own lazy mode, I found that even in sixth (top) gear, a nudge on the accelerator pedal was usually enough to waft me past slower traffic on the motorways.
The zero to 62 mph time is 8.6 seconds. Talking of gears, an 8-speed automatic version is available as an option. In the test car, the manual gear change was not one of the car’s best points; with approaching 5000 miles on the clock, it was fairly notchy. The clutch pedal was quite a long leg away, it would be worth shorter drivers who are considering buying a Clubman checking that they can find a comfortable driving position that doesn’t require them to be shoved up too close to the steering wheel. Yes, the wheel can be adjusted, however, so perhaps all would be well.
The interior of the Cooper D was quality throughout, as you expect with Mini. The very comfortable ‘Sports’ front seat were attractively-styled. Mini interiors always have a plethora of shiny bits, whether they be the toggle switches, handles, inserts and so on…not terribly subtle, but it all works well and looks good.
All sorts of traffic and weather conditions experienced over about five hundred miles in my week with the car. At all times, it proved a pleasant place to be. On the motorway, depending on the road surface, the Clubman was extraordinarily quiet. Sometimes there was nothing more than road noise. Wind noise was minimal. Even when first started up, the engine had absolutely no old-fashioned diesel clatter.
The test car came in a new and very attractive deep, dark aubergine colour, called Pure Burgundy. But isn’t the Burgundy Pinot Noir grape actually lighter in the bottle than, say the Cabernet Sauvignon of Bordeaux? Never mind, only joking!
Overall, then, this Oxford-built Mini is a bit of a class act. I mean, my wife wants me to buy one…trouble is: this one costs £30,160 — around £7000 of this figure was in options, including new atmospheric lighting and a host of touch-of-a-button adjustments for the driver’s seat. Nonetheless, very tempting!
2016 MINI Cooper D Clubman
On the road starts at £22, 265, car as tested with options £30,160
PROS AND CONS: Big √ Build quality √ Good visibility √ low emissions and mpg X Big
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