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Mini Clubman Test Drive Review

Date: 03 November 2015   |   Author:

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £24,975
Key rival: VW Golf
On sale: November 2015
Equipment: 16in alloys, Bluetooth, satnav, keyless start, air-conditioning, aux and USB ports, armrest
Engines:136hp 1.5, 192hp 2.0 petrol and 150hp/190hp 2.0 diesel
Trims: Cooper, Cooper S
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic

Mini has a bit of an interesting job with the new Clubman. Not only is it a first move into the fleet heartland of the lower medium segment, but the company is choosing to do it with a model that's grown from the first-generation car of the same name.

The first Clubman, Mini admits, didn't have the greatest market awareness, but the company has chosen to maintain the link with 'old' Mini's heritage, and carry over the name for a new model that's now just 6mm shorter than a VW Golf - the key target for the new model.

Those that are familiar with the previous Clubman will be pleased to hear it's now a proper six-door car, odd as that sounds. As well as maintaining the rear 'barn' doors rather than a traditional hatchback, the Clubman now has rear doors on either side, where the last one just had a small offside rear entry point thanks to the positioning of the fuel tank on the smaller model being inherited from the Mini hatchback platform.

The company's key line for corporates is that Mini shouldn't be dismissed on practicality grounds. The 360-litre boot, accessed via those twin doors, is a decent size, even if most of the competition - which includes the Audi A3, Mercedes A-class, Volvo V40 and BMW's own 1-series as well as the Golf - offer larger. There's plenty of rear headroom thanks to the long flat roof of the shooting brake styling, and legroom for adults is adequate in the rear.

Mini claims the cabin is another area where it has grown up, including the first proper centre console in a Mini thanks to an extra three inches of width over the old model. Despite the dimensions roughly matching its rivals, the Mini still feels a more snug cabin that wraps itself around the driver, rather than the more open and airy cabin of the likes of the Golf.

It's a difference rather than a criticism, and that feeling translates to the driving experience, where the Clubman feels like a smaller, lower and generally more nimble car than its rivals, although the steering feels a touch too light when conducting a more spirited drive. Likewise, the gearchange on our low-mileage test car was a touch notchy and there were times where changes were fluffed when trying to swiftly switch through the gears.

The car also rides reasonably well, especially over larger bumps, but tarmac ripples aren't dealt with quite as well as some rivals.

The rear doors predictably impact on rear visibility thanks to the pillars down the middle of your rearward view, and they can induce a degree of cross-eyed-ness as the driver tries to focus past them on the traffic behind.

It's worth noting that all Clubmans come with satnav and a digital radio among their standard equipment, and elements such as electric seats are introduced to the Mini range for the first time as
an option.

The place where the Clubman maybe surprisingly falls down is on whole-life costs. By adding the Chili pack which adds front sports seats with cloth and leather trim, rear parking sensors and auto air-con, the Clubman is a similar price to the premium rivals it has in its sights, but those premium models all have residuals to match or beat the Mini, according to KwikCarcost.

The Clubman is in the same ballpark, but doesn't lead, whereas Mini can normally rely on an unbeaten residual value to make the costs case. Emissions from rivals are also as good or better, with the Volvo V40 leading the way at under 100g/km.

Mini is predicting modest sales for its new model, looking for a third of the number of A3 or 1-series models registered every year, and that 10,000 figure is one Clubman for every seven Golfs that are registered in the UK.

If it can get the message across that the new Clubman is a different, more grown-up, practical and relevant model than the quirky niche product of the same name that it replaces, then there's no reason to think the quirky and likeable car won't achieve its ambitions.

Mini Clubman D 2.0 150 Chili pack

Model price range £19,995-£25,970
Residual value 37.7%
Depreciation £15,550
Fuel £4581
Service, maintenance and repair £2056
Vehicle Excise Duty £60
National Insurance £2068
Cost per mile 51.0p
Fuel consumption 65.7mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 113g/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month £83/£167
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 360/litres
Engine size/power 1995cc/150hp


Clubman grows up to some extent to be a credible mainstream fleet player
  • Driving experience, increased size over old Clubman
  • Not cheap, barn-style rear doors are of dubious benefit over a hatch