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The MINI Clubman is more hatchback than stationwagon, but it delightfully delivers with its chic looks and engaging drive when compared against its premium competitors.

07 Sep 2020


It seems that for many, the go-to premium hatchbacks today are from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

It isn't hard to see why. The Mercedes A-Class offers stunning looks, and the BMW 1 Series is pretty sweet to drive. For some looking for an entry point to a premium brand, both cars have plenty of badge appeal.

MINI's range of cars, on the other hand, might seem like a niche, lifestyle choice in comparison. But the MINI One Clubman - the entry level variant to the Clubman range - is in fact a worthy competitor.

But this isn't a hatchback...

The MINI Clubman is better compared to premium hatchbacks, although one can consider it a wagon
At 4,266mm long, 1,800mm wide and 1,441mm tall, some motoring circles might consider the Clubman a stationwagon. However, you'd be surprised to find that the Clubman shares similar proportions with the A-Class and the 1 Series.

The only big difference is its length. The Mercedes is 153mm longer than the MINI. Other than that, the three of them are off by mere millimetres.

Elsewhere, for the Clubman to stand tall against its premium competitors, the range has received some tweaks for 2020. The One Clubman variant in this review is a new offering, and shares some styling updates that have benefited the Cooper and Cooper S Clubman.

These updates include redesigned LED head lights and taillights, along with a wider, more pronounced radiator grille.

Like all MINIs, the Clubman offers a delightful and refreshing interior
With or without the updates, what is most important is that the Clubman still looks unmistakably MINI - even though its proportions might not seem so.

Not so entry-level inside

Despite this being the introductory variant, the One Clubman sports an interior that feels far from basic.

Cabin materials feel solid to the touch, with a plethora of toggle switches that offer a distinct look and feel.

It might lack the vast panes of screens to control various infotainment and vehicle functions seen in newer cars today. But handling actual solid switches is an experience that's far more exquisite than attractive visual animations. We're looking at you, Mercedes.

The smaller 6.5-inch infotainment display is easy to use, but it doesn't come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as standard
There still is infotainment, of course. A 6.5-inch display sits neatly in the centre of the dash, with a user interface that's clear and easy to use. Preloaded with MINI's own connected suite of services, it would've been nice if Apple CarPlay came as standard.

Still, the Clubman is a nice place to be in and offers plenty of character. MINI is technically the work of BMW, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything that harks back to the Bavarians. Here, it is unequivocally MINI, which is a feat considering the current trend of shared parts and platforms across brands.

Added practicality?

The Clubman offers a good amount of headroom for two tall adults in the rear
Considering this is a six-door MINI, it naturally translates to added practicality.

Although storage compartments in the cabin could be a bit bigger, you're buying the Clubman mainly for the two rear doors. And it delivers in that aspect.

Lanky adults will not have much to complain in the rear. There is adequate amounts of legroom, and plenty of headroom.

Three adults in the rear might prove to be a squeeze, with the firmer centre seat best suited for short trips.

The Clubman's 360-litre boot puts it on par with its premium hatchback rivals
The next two doors at the back gain you access to 360 litres of boot space - a good 82 litres more than the five-door MINI.

I found the boot's split-doors to actually be practical - you rarely need to open both doors for most items. Surprisingly, it comes with an electric tailgate - hold the boot button and the right door swings outward. If you need more loading space, fold the rear seats flat and the Clubman's loading capacity increases to 1,250 litres.

Drive with character

The Clubman offers boatloads of character for those who enjoy driving
There's a lot to expect when you get behind the wheel of a MINI. Words like 'character' and 'fun' are usually used extensively to describe the drive for MINI cars, and for the Clubman, this remains true.

In fact, it is better. The Clubman is far less twitchy with better steering inputs as compared to the shorter three-door. It doesn't respond to poor road conditions by tramlining into ruts and dips in the road as much, either. It is a fuss-free drive, whilst being agile and cheery as you'd expect a MINI to be despite its bigger proportions.

This means there is much joy to be had driving it faster than usual through twisty sections of road with the throttle pinned to the floor. Why full throttle? Well, that's because the One Clubman isn't very quick.

With just 101bhp and 190Nm of torque on tap, the Clubman isn't what you would call quick, but it doesn't at all affect driving enjoyment
Coupled with a smooth-shifting seven-speed auto, power delivery is nice and linear. But with just 101bhp and 190Nm of torque being pushed out of its turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder lump, don't expect to be peeling off at every traffic light.

So, if your definition of driving abilities requires power, you'd be better off looking at the Cooper or Cooper S Clubman offerings.

Still, our 100km test drive netted a fuel consumption figure of 11.2km/L. Which isn't at all bad considering our 'spirited' time with the car.

It is still too quirky for me

The Clubman has what it takes to be a worthy competitor in the premium hatchback segment

At $140,888 (as of 8 September 2020), the One Clubman's still at least $8,000 less than the Merc or BMW. And if you decide to go for the Cooper Clubman with power to match the two Germans, it still is cheaper, at $147,888.

This is a MINI that doesn't pride itself with glamorous racing stripes or striking colours (you still can, if you want). It is a base model Clubman, after all.

But it goes to show that you don't need much for a car to be enjoyable and still have character. And that's something not many can match.

Car Information

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MINI One Clubman 1.5 (A)
Rate it

Price

: $143,888

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line 12-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1499cc

Horsepower

:

75kW (101 bhp) / 6500 rpm

Torque

:

190 Nm / 3600 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

11.6sec

Top Speed

:

185km/h

Fuel consumption

:

16.7 km/L

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