Is a six-door bulked-up Mini still fun?
Larger and more grown-up than ever, the Mini Clubman is a sensible family car.Damien Reid January 29, 2017
I’ve always been a fan of the Mini in its most basic guise, that being the three- door coupé shape, but not so keen on the maxi-mini look of the over-sized Countryman crossover. So I was in two minds about the Clubman Cooper S as it has the desirable features of the Cooper S but it’s now in a substantially larger body, which makes a mockery of the Mini name.
At 4,253mm long, it’s the longest car in the Mini range but as the current generation Mini has also grown, the Clubman needs to be wider and has a longer wheelbase making it a proper, six-door, medium sized, family car alternative.
Yep, six doors, as the rear uses two vertical ‘barn doors’ which are a hat tip to the original Mini panel vans of the 1970s and offers the cool feature of being remotely operated from the key as well as opening with a simple wave of the foot under the rear bumper. Great for when you’ve got your arms full of loot to fill its 360 litres of storage or 1,250 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
While the doors open wide for easy access, the drawback is a thick pillar running down the middle that blocks rear vision. However interior space is more generous than the previous model that only had one, half-sized rear door on the kerb-side. Rear seat passengers have plenty of head and shoulder room that’s even better than some larger, SUVs.
However, everything comes at a price and unfortunately the Clubman is not as zippy as the regular Cooper S despite being powered by the same turbocharged, 2-litre four-cylinder engine that punches out 189bhp and 280Nm of torque. It runs through a new eight-speed transmission that, like the engine, comes from the BMW stable and includes paddle shifters. It’s intuitive and surprisingly fun to drive at times.
With two drive options of the fuel efficient Green and Sport modes, it could only be Sport for me or any self-respecting Mini aficionado￼￼ as it tightens the suspension, speeds up the shift patterns and alters the throttle mapping for more spirited driving.
Yet at the end of the day, the Clubman Cooper S is less the go-kart of its coupé sibling and more utilitarian family transport. But as a small people carrier it’s still a laugh to fling around town.
- Engine: 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder
- ￼￼Power: 189bhp @5,000rpm
- Torque: 280Nm @1,250rpm
- Transmission: eight-speed automatic
- 0-100kmh: 7.1 seconds
- Top speed: 228kmh
- Price: AED 140,000