Mini Cooper S Clubman Auto
The old Mini Clubman was no oil-painting, but this one could easily earn its place on the podium at Legs 11. It’s a looker all right.
The brand-new Mini Clubman is far bigger than its siblings, is well-formed and its proportions are just right. And because it’s not exactly a shrinking violet, the Clubman is likely to win over quirkier types who might otherwise have gone for mid-size family car choices, such as the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
The story hasn’t always been good for the Clubman. The first generation had a useless, single rear door that meant UK passengers were forced to step into the road. This didn’t helps sales and the Clubman therefore wasn’t exactly the rock star that BMW, Mini’s owner, was expecting.
But the Germans have seen the light and the previous rear-hinged “clubdoor” has been kicked to the kerb in favour of two normal back doors. Then there’s the barn-door boot which can be released manually, or if you ticked the hands-free tailgate option, a sassy little kick under the rear bumper will open them up.
Inside, the comfortable seats are kind to your backside and feel supportive, especially during long periods on the road. The car’s uncluttered dashboard is dwarfed by a massive screen that sits where the speedometer on older Minis used to be. The controller on the central console manages most of the Clubman’s systems, so there are fewer buttons on the dash to confuse or divert you.
As the Clubman is the largest of the current Mini litter, it has, predictably, the most capacious cabin. The boot will allow family shopping and a toddler’s buggy too. The word “mini” actually seems rather outmoded here.
The Cooper S Clubman Auto is easily the most gratifying to drive. Out at the Mini’s media launch on the roads surrounding San Sebastian in northern Spain, the most powerful petrol model drove like a go-kart on the straights.
It’s a shame about the slightly pulpy suspension if you enter the twisty bits too hard, but that can be forgiven.
Up to 189bhp can be squeezed from the S’s 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder lump, and with the eight speed auto box, a zero to 62mph sprint in 7.1 seconds is easily achievable, finishing with a top speed of 142mph.
Even though these figures might make the car sound insatiable for fuel – it’s not.
This state-of-the-art Mini is a gargantuan step-up from its forerunner, and it puts right pretty much everything that was awry with its predecessors. The new Clubman is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of anyone behind its wheel.
Max speed: 142 mph
0-62 mph: 7.1 secs
Combined mpg: 48.7
Engine: 1998cc, 4 cylinder, 16 valve, turbo petrol
Max. power (bhp): 189
Max. torque (lb/ft): 221
CO2: 134 g/km
Price: £24,455 on the road
PROS ‘N’ CONS
X Some body-roll
Tested: Bilbao, Spain