Mini Clubman review – A true Mini
The Mini Clubman is the biggest model in the range in India. Over the years, the Mini has grown not only size but in variations as well. The second-generation Mini Clubman is longer and wider than the other Minis in the range. The question is, is it still a Mini in every sense of the word?
In terms of styling, the Mini Clubman is unmistakably a model from the Mini Cars range. It has all the retro design elements that you’ll see on other Mini Cars. Some may like it; some may not. We think the Mini Clubman looks quite cool and the added length and upright D-pillar give it the look of an estate car; we can confirm that it looks better than the elongated five-door Mini Copper. At the front, you get the huge chrome-laden hexagonal grille, flanked by the signature circular LED headlights bordered by chrome rings. The bonnet again, is traditional Mini styling, with its curved look and the power bulge in the middle.
There are air vents on the front and rear bumpers that help channel air around the wheel arches. You get chrome along the sides for the door handles and turn indicators on the fender. At the rear, the Mini Clubman gets the typical split two-door boot, referred to as barn doors. The rear windscreen gets divided too and then of course, you get the Mini and Cooper S badges finished in chrome, along with the centrally-positioned twin door handles.
A club for five
Mini cars engine
On the inside too, there are lots of familiar bits, like the steering wheel with its circular central boss and switches, the round 8.8-inch central display, the switches, toggle switches and oval-shaped gear knob. Plus, there’s a roof panel that has the light and sunroof controls on it. The central screen displays navigation, music and phone options and the car’s drive modes. The touchscreen works well but some of the on-screen buttons are too small; there are also physical buttons and an optional central controller knob. There’s an LED panel arcing over the central display and lights up depending on the mood lighting. Even the cabin gets retro detailing. The dashboard sports a nice-looking strip that runs the width of it, and you will even find monochrome British tartan prints and Union Jack motifs.
The huge circular speedometer has a display included. In terms of safety, the car features dynamic stability control, 3-point seat belts, ABS with cornering brake control, side airbags and curtain airbags. Room inside is good, but nothing great. The seats up-front are comfortable, supportive and offer extendable lower thigh support. Five occupants can be seated at the back, but the occupant in the middle will find it a squeeze. Legroom isn’t great, but the scooped-out seat-backs help to an extent. Storage space is sufficient, thanks to the reasonably-sized glovebox, multiple cubby holes, door pockets and a 360-litre boot. There is no spare wheel though, because the Mini gets run-flat tyres.
Still a Mini
Get behind the wheel and you are immediately made to understand the true driving characteristics of a Mini, but we still think this is a Mini for a very matured buyer, not someone looking to have fun around corners. So keeping that in mind, the steering and suspension setup have been tweaked to deliver a more relaxed steering feel and a softer ride. However, this isn’t to say it has lost the charm of a Mini on the road. There’s barely any body roll and turn-in is sharp, but unfortunately, the added length can be felt during changing directions. Intense acceleration results in mild torque steer, but it doesn’t come in the way as such. The suspension soak in bumps well, but you can hear quite a bit from the outside, especially over ridiculously large pot holes. The car gets extended rim protectors since it has low-profile tyres.
Full of fun
The Clubman is powered by a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 189bhp and 280Nm of torque, paired to an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission that shifts quickly and sends power to the rear wheels. The Clubman is easily drivable with barely any turbo lag; the engine is responsive and the car pulls away nice and smoothly and promptly as well. The car gets three drive modes that adjust steering response and gearbox shift speeds. In Sport, the car feels energetic and there’s a lovely note from the exhaust as well. The car feels quite the opposite in Green mode as this is mainly aimed at fuel economy.
A true Mini?
If the Clubman appeals to you, you certainly have a thing for estates, which is no bad thing. It’s just that it’s not popular in our market. However, it is sure to ferry your family around in comfort, but at a slightly high price. And the more you spec your Mini, the costlier it’ll get. The Clubman is unique in its own way and will find only a select few buyers willing to fork out a premium.