Mini Clubman 6 door gaycarboys (1)

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It looks like a mini, it drives like a Mini, but it has more doors than the Opera House.

We’ve driven many a Mini, so this time we stuck strictly to the difference between Clubman and 5 door, and the other cars you might get for the same price.

People buy Mini because they want a Mini. It would be more accurate to put Mini in a class of its own. We all remember the cute-as-a-button car of the 60’s, but put them side by side and you see the 2016 Mini bears only a passing resemblance. It dwarfs its older sister in size, power, and luxury. “Luxury” do I hear you say? Yes indeed, Mini has premium feel and a modern funky style with the merest hint of retro.

The original Clubman came in a 2 door, and a 2 door estate. The estate had a rear which opened up with “barn doors” rather than a hatch. Enter the 2016 Clubman, and isn’t it flashy?

In many ways it doesn’t matter how much a Mini costs. Buyers are purchasing a lifestyle statement, no just fab transport. Mini is targeted at buyers wanting a premium experience. As I’ll point out later, there are faster, cheaper hatches if the drive is all you want.Mini-Clubman-Estate-02

You get two models, Cooper and Cooper S, each with a seemingly infinite number of package options. You can have a terrific audio enhancement, and a top notch Satnav. The test car had ododels of extras to show how brilliantly a Mini can be kitted out. It’s a shame more of it isn’t standard but Mini sell all the cars they can bring in so there is no need to give stuff away when people will pay for it.

I want to mention the red blinking light on the top of the shark fin arial. You can see it in a crowded car park instantly identifying your vehicle, at least until everyone else does it. In a further act of campery, the puddle lights in the mirrors project the Mini logo onto the ground on the driver’s side. I love it.

The chassis adjustment system hardly makes a difference as the ride is so firm anyway. The steering doesn’t feel quite as sharp as the JCW models which I put down to tyres.

Mini feels sharp to drive. All Minis do, but the run-flat tyres add a certain harshness to the ride. They’re more expensive than regular tyres too. Unlike the Mini One we had recently, the sound proofing does a decent job leaving the cabin as quiet as possible.

On the road, Mini feels spacious despite its diminutive dimensions. It wraps the passengers in a modern interpretation of what the original Mini would have been had it been in continual development. If you put the current Mini beside the 1st gen modern Mini you’d notice very little change. They’ve kept development subtle so as to remain relevant without losing the spirit. They hold their resale value too, something to keep in mind when it comes time to move on.

The barn doors at the back give the driver a vertical bar in the rear view. It’s annoying at first but you quickly get used to it. The doors are so light that they feel almost weightless. You can open just one door if you like, and the cargo hold will take a full sized bike with the rear seats down. The 5 door has a hatch so there is nothing to obscure your view.

The Clubman is deceptively big (COMPARED TO OTHER Minis)

Measurement in mm

Cooper 5 door

Cooper Clubman

Cooper Countryman

















The Cooper’s raspy 3 cylinder develops 100kw with 220Nm. It does 9.1 seconds 10 100kph and gets 5.4 L/100k. the 2.0 Cooper S has 141kw/280Nm, does a 7.2 0-100 and gets 6.4L/100k.

image128957_aThe base price is $34,900, so the $14,000 of options puts it above the Cooper S. It also puts it above the Golf GTI, 308 GTi, Focus ST, Astra VRX and Subaru WRX, so you really have to want the Mini. In fact, you’d almost be able to buy a Subaru WRX STi which has twice as much power.

It’s perhaps a little unfair to compare to such icons of hot-hatch-dom to the Mini which is in a niche all on its own. The unique exterior has a perfectly matched interior which is not found in any other car. The other cars I mentioned are all of an ilk and their interiors are less unique than ubiquitous. Mini Prides itself being a premium city car which is all very well, but would you really walk past the others I’ve mentioned to buy a smaller car with less power and a harder ride?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Clubman. I love its funky doors and kooky cabin but I must have bang for my buck.

Would I buy one? I’m not sure. I’m a Mini lover but I’d be insane not to look at the other cars listed above. The only way to judge would be to drive all 6 back to back. Whichever one drove best is the one I’d buy. The only one out of contention might be the Astra with its chaotic centre console with more buttons than a haberdashery.

Price: Cooper $34,900 (as tested $49,040), Cooper S $42,900 (plus on-roads)

Engine, econ, perf: Cooper 3 cyl, 100kw/220Nm, 5.4L/100k, 9.1 0-100

Cooper S 4 cyl, 141kw/280Nm, 6.4L/100k, 7.2 0-100