Practical meets premium
Clubman with extra doors is still an entertainer, says Craig Jamieson
MINI has always tugged at the heartstrings rather than appealed to the hip pocket and the new Clubman is no exception.
The Clubman Cooper’s starting price is a reasonable $34,900 but options can easily kick that out well past $40,000.
It’s the same story for the Cooper S, which starts at $42,900 but can easily top $50,000.
Perhaps that’s why Mini is targeting the booming “premium compact” market with the Clubman. The segment has tripled in size over the past five years, led by the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class.
At first glance the Mini appears to have the class to mix it in this company. The cabin is beautifully trimmed and unique, with (optional) diamond-stitched leather and cool switchgear.
It has a distinctly claustrophobic feel, though, with a narrow front windscreen and poor vision through the bifold rear doors.
It’s a shame because there’s actually a lot of room in the Clubman. With ample front headroom and a capacious boot, the mega Mini is the first of its kind with practicality to rival five-door hatchbacks.
The previous-generation Clubman, with a single rear door that opened into the traffic, was scarcely more practical than the smaller hatch.
This model redresses its predecessor’s shortcomings by reverting to a more straightforward, hatchback-like setup, with regular doors for easy access.
The Clubman is 270mm longer and 90mm wider than the standard hatch, the extra dimensions seemingly improving the way the car soaks up bumps.
The skittishness of the small Mini hatch stablemate is nowhere to be found on the grown-up Clubman, even through mid-corner corrugations. As is the way with double-edged swords, however, the peppy dynamism for which