Thursday, July 20, 2017

Devon test drives an odd-ball Mini (Used)


Mini Cooper S Clubman Facelift front 20100508.jpg
The Mini Brand offers tons of quirky niche vehicles that are fun to drive. But what if you want the quirkiest of the bunch? The Clubman is the Mini that will appeal to you the most.

Performance: The Clubman comes with the same 1.6-liter engine the rest of the Mini Range comes with. There are three variations to choose from; the Cooper trim offers 122hp. Cooper S offers a turbo which pumps out 180hp. Top of the range JCW offers the potent 208hp version of the 1.6. Pick of the range is the Cooper S trim, which offers the most engaging driving experience all while offering decent fuel economy which is a win-win over the base trim.

Ride & handling: The Clubman is just as fun to drive as the hardtop Mini. Even though the Clubman has a longer wheelbase, the overall feel in the corners and bends is still spot on. Ride comfort however isn’t as disappointing as the Countryman. Although the fun to drive character is still there, it still leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the hardtop Mini.

Refinement: The engines sound sporty and are fun to rev. The turbo versions offer the more engaging driving experience. Wind noise can be heard in the cabin at higher speeds but it’s far from intrusive. Some road noise will sneak into the cabin also. The manual gearbox gear pattern shoves the reverse gear in front of first gear, which makes it very easy for you to select reverse instead of first gear.

Behind the wheel: Even though the Clubman is bigger than your standard Mini hardtop, the seating position and overall view out of the car is still spot on. Only problem we have is the barn doors styled tailgate. It creates an awkward blind spot when parking and looking through the rearview mirror. The dashboard like other Minis is just fussy and fiddly to operate. Many of the controls are jammed in where ever there’s space, which makes it awkward and overly complicated to navigate through.

Space & practicality: This is where the Clubman shines. Thanks to the added length and wheelbase, there is plenty of space for actual passengers in the rear. Two adults can sit comfortably thanks to added headroom, legroom and even hip room. The club door is placed on the passenger side of the car which means that rear passengers won’t have to exit into traffic. The boot is also well sized and shaped. The barn doors styled tailgate adds a touch of quirk to the overall appeal of the car.
Equipment: All three trim levels are equally equipped with the same level of kit. You’ll have to pay extra for desired features that should be standard. The Cooper S trim and JCW trim adds special body-kit trim and few other touches to separate them from the Cooper trim. If price is a concern for you, we’d suggest sticking with the Cooper trim and stay clear of the options list.

Buying & owning: The Clubman is slightly more expensive than the hardtop Mini, but in return you do get more space for rear passengers and a distinct image all round. Running costs shouldn’t be too bad thanks to decent fuel economy, while resale value won’t be a problem at all thanks to strong demand for the Mini Badge.

Quality & reliability: The Clubman and all other Minis have a premium small car image. It’s a shame that the interior quality is a big let down. Some switchgear and controls are iffy in terms of quality. Mini Customers are a happy bunch and rate Mini high in customer satisfaction, even though the company’s reliability record is patchy.

Safety & Security: Front and side curtain airbags are standard across the range. As well as traction control, electronic stability program, anti-lock brakes and a tire pressure monitor. An engine immobilizer is standard as well as deadlocks; you’ll have to pay extra for an alarm.

If you want the most distinct and quirky Mini of them all, the Clubman is clearly the choice hands down. It may not be as roomy as the Countryman, but it’s not as disappointing to drive and overall driving satisfaction is right there next to the Mini hardtop. If you don’t mind paying the premium for the options that you’d most likely want, the Clubman is the perfect car for you.

Devon's Pick: Mini Clubman S is the most fun to drive of the range without being overly expensive like the JCW trim. You still have to pay extra for bits that you may want, but it's still entertaining to drive and the most popular form of the Clubman. 

Likes: Fun to drive with roomy interior for four passengers. Decent running costs with quirky club doors and tailgate.

Dislikes: Some controls are fiddly to operate. Desired options push price sky high, while standard kit is considered stingy. Reverse gear too easily selected instead of first gear.

Devon’s Pick: The Cooper S is the best trim to pick. You may have to pay the premium price for it, but it offers the most engaging driving experience. All while offering decent running costs.


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