The six-door Mini Clubman shows just how much fun can be crammed into a small car.
This test drive comes with a disclaimer. Someone in my family got it wrong. Big time.
I have long been taken by the looks of the Mini. Not its classic ’60s guise as exemplified (in pop culture-focused way of thinking) Mr Bean, but new-look British icon, driven by Austin Powers or that which starred in The Italian Job.
From afar it oozed style and personality. More curvy, less boxy. than once I expressed the view would very much like to get behind the wheel of one. Maybe not on a permanent basis, but certainly to see if walked walk as well as it talked talk.
To which I was shot down. In no uncertain terms.
The analogy was not so much that of a square peg trying to fit into round hole, as obliterating said hole completely. I couldn’t possibly fit, it assumed, and if I did I would look like was driving clown car. How wrong they were. When Doubting Thomas finally came for a ride in the new Mini Cooper Clubman, their immediate reaction how nice it was. More than that, refined
There was comfort, there was space, there luxury and a nimble turn of speed, no mean feat for a car powered by threecylinder 1.5-litre engine.
The Clubman comes in two versions in Australia — the base model I drove and two-litre four-cylinder Cooper S, both with petrol engines. A four-cylinder two-litre diesel version is available overseas but there no word yet whether that will be introduced here.
Certainly consumption would seem to the sole reason. Mini claims 4.1 litres/100km (combined) for diesel, but three-cylinder petrol is not much thirstier at 5.1, while Cooper S is 6.2.
It sits low does feel claustrophobic. It hugs the bends and when you flick gear shift across into manual, paddles shift up down gears with snappy precision.
There is another word I’d use in relation to my first experience of the Mini: fun. And sales
“When I send people out in a test drive in a Mini for the first time, and I say to them ‘How did you enjoy that?’, nine times out of 10 word that comes of their mouths is “fun”. That’s only way they can explain it.”
LIANA HOTON, GEELONG MINI GARAGE SALES CONSULTANT
consultant Liana Horton from Geelongg Mini Garageg saysy I’m not alone in that assessment.
“This particular model is brand new, so it’s the newest member of family,” she said.
“When I send people out in a test drive a Mini for first time, and say to them ‘How did you enjoy that?’, nine times
10 the first word that comes out of their mouths is ‘fun’. That’s
only way they can explain it.” How do make a car fun? In
case Clubman, you start with little things.
There is nice retro feel with the controls, which are metal toggles instead of plastic-like dials. The fuel gauge is represented by a kind bar graph, running down the right- hand side of the one main dial on
dash that sits in front of the steering wheel. There are tartan patterns bottom storage bins in doors and what look to be carbon fibre inserts doors turn out to more like fibre optics, lighting up the mood you select.
That pack is one of a myriad options available across the Clubman range. But even without that you’re well off for features — six-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch wheels, climate control, Bluetooth, audio streaming, USB connectivity, forward collision warning, keyless start, rear park distance
reversing camera and 6½-inch touchscreen.
The Clubman is priced from $34,990. model I drove had a bunch of options, including sunroof, sports seats, heated front seats and 17-inch alloys and was $47,665. But perhaps the biggest change in Clubman from its predecessor is round back.
Twin barn doors bring total number of the car to six — twice as many as predecessor. There’s even a “kick” function (again an option) that will allow you open handsfree.
“It’s trying to appeal to different market again,” Horton said. “They’re referring this as a six-door hatch.
“There’s something for everyone in the Mini.”