I’ve always loved MINIs – from the old-school original MINIs to the sporty Cooper models; so when given the opportunity to test drive the new MINI Clubman for Story Living magazine, I jumped at the chance.
The date set for my test drive happened to be on one of the wettest weekends we’ve had this Summer, so driving through torrential downpours certainly put the car to the test!
On collecting the car I was impressed by its size; as one of the larger MINI models currently available, both 270mm longer and 30mm wider than the previous model, boasting five seats and four passenger doors.
Sitting behind the wheel, I was struck by how tall it was inside; it felt more like a hatchback with the amount of space and would be a good car for family use. I was also struck by how light it was due to the two sunroofs the car boasts, but with the weather outside, I didn’t get to make full use of them.
A great design feature is the barn door opening at the rear of the car; it was much easier to load and unload my shopping than a conventional boot, with the added bonus of the ‘Opener function’ which allows contactless access by waving a foot below the rear bumper – which was particularly handy when I had my hands full.
The Clubman’s certainly very responsive – with my foot on the accelerator I gained speed very quickly. I’m used to driving a Mercedes A200 Diesel, but behind the wheel of this car it felt like I was driving a go-kart.
Cornering was excellent with plenty of grip, but unfortunately with the torrential downpours I couldn’t fully put it to the test. The suspension was quite soft; going over the odd pothole I felt it, but again, that added to the feeling of sportiness.
The start-stop technology was brilliant; in my Mercedes it takes a small delay to actually get moving, whereas with the MINI it was much faster off the mark in restarting.
The low seats enhanced the sporty vibe, but I also felt very safe and secure in the driving seat; the cornering was tight and the steering was very sensitive in comparison to what I’m used to, but not too sensitive, while the automatic gear transitions were smooth and seamless.
The car also had a sports mode (an optional add on) and I gained speed incredibly quickly when I engaged this; the steering and suspension really tightened and I felt gripped to the road.
In terms of fit and finish, you can tell that the MINI is owned by BMW and the leather seats, techy, futuristic dash and excellent quality sound system all added up to a rather premium feel – and I would certainly consider the Clubman as my next car.
Thanks to Lloyd MINI for supplying the car and images featured.