Practical family cars aren’t always the most exciting vehicles out there. Many are quite bland and boring, but not the Clubman. With its funky curves, wide stance and out-there styling this Mini is a fully-fledged family car, but its design won’t be for everyone.
Measuring in at 4,253mm, the Clubman is nearly the same length as a Volkswagen Golf Estate, which as we all know is an incredibly practical and popular family car. So has the Mini got what it takes to be a bidding rival?
It goes without saying that some people aren’t happy with the sheer size of the Clubman. I mean, it’s supposed to be a Mini after all, Right?
Well, Mini disagree. Over the last few years, the British brand has steered towards growing a fleet of more practical, comfortable cars – all promising the famous ‘go kart handling’ that Minis offer. So surely it makes sense for them to produce an estate car?
Here’s what you need to know about the Clubman:
1. SPLIT BOOT
Loyal to it’s predecessor, the Clubman still retains an iconic split-opening tailgate. Now this is a very Marmite feature to have on a car which you’ll either love or hate.
The boot is 360-litres in size – around 20-litres shy of the Golfs, but remember those split doors mean that wider objects can be put in with ease. Fold the rear seats down and you’ll have enough space to classify the Clubman as a small van.
Handily, the boot can be opened by waving your foot over a sensor below the bumper. There’s a knack to getting it right at first, but once mastered it’s a nifty hands-free way of getting to the boot when your laden with shopping. If you’re not a fan of that method, squeezing the handles on the boot causes them to open fully. In other words, if you hate the laborious task of opening boot doors, the Clubman has you covered.
One thing worth noting is the visibility issues caused by the split boot. There’s a great big fat bar across the middle of your rear view mirror from where the doors meet. This could quite easily conceal a motorcyclist at a distance.
2. MUCH COMFORT
The Clubman’s innards are a nice place to be. The ride on the standard Cooper is surprisingly soft, and very comfortable for an entry-level car. Squidgy suspension makes for smooth driving over bumpy roads, as well as effortless cruising on the motorway. The fully-adjustable seats are a combination of leather and fabric which feel warm and cosy. The armrests built into the door frames are big and come covered in a soft sofa-like fabric – this helps add to the high level of cosiness in the cabin.
3. IT’S BIG FOR A REASON
Many see the Clubman as an overstretched Mini hatchback, but this isn’t the case. Underneath all this Mini flair sits a BMW 2-Series Active Tourer. This gives the car more space thanks to the wider platform and makes it more suitable as a utilitarian family car
This extra space means that the Clubman has five seats – unlike the four found in the hatchback and the convertible. The back seats can easily fit three adults, but anyone of a larger proportion might struggle in the middle. Make no mistake, this a proper-sized family car.
4. AS PRACTICAL AS ITS RIVALS
It might be a Mini, but the Clubman comes kitted out with plenty of storage and things to make the owner’s life that little bit easier.
For starters, it’s the first Mini to have a solid centre-console. As uninteresting as that sounds, it means that you’ll find a comfy armrest with a large storage compartment inside, decent cup holders and a little area to store and charge your phone. The centre console helps lift the iDrive system controls up a few inches, which makes it much easier to operate than the Mini hatchback, where it’s situated very low down.
The back passengers are treated to controllable air vents, a plug socket for phone charging, LED mood lighting and large door bins to make long journeys as comfortable as possible.
5. THAT GO-KART FEELING
Despite Mini marketing this car as a family estate, the Clubman still feels exactly how a Mini should to drive. Yes it’s slower than the hatchback – the Clubman Cooper’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine produces 136 horsepower and gives it a modest 0-60 mph time of 9.2 seconds. Whilst this isn’t blisteringly-quick. You can spec the driving mode pack, adding Green and Sport mode – the later increasing throttle response and steering weight. The car corners just as eagerly as the hatchback does, but there is a lot more body roll (understandably).
Remember, more powerful Cooper S and John Cooper Works versions of the Clubman are available that produce 192 and 306 horsepower for those looking for fast family fun.
So, it drives like a Mini and it feels premium and comfortable, but is it a good estate, or just a good big-Mini?