- Published On: 13 April 2017
- 7 min read
We get behind the wheel of the longer Mini Clubman. Is it as good as its smaller siblings?
The Clubman is 4,253mm long, making it the longest Mini in the company’s India line-up. To give you some perspective about how big it is, it’s wider than sedans like the Chevrolet Cruze and the Corolla Altis.
On the outside
There’s no mistaking this is a Mini – it’s got all the retro cues from its stable mates. The extra length and more upright D-pillar make this car look more like a proper Mini estate. At the front end, the Clubman's looks are familiar. There’s a chrome heavy and curvy hexagonal grille flanked by the large bug-eyed LED headlamps with thick chrome rings. The bonnet is traditionally Mini - curvaceous with the power bulge set in the centre, towards the windscreen. On the front bumper and at the rear of the front fender are sporty-looking vents that direct air around the wheel arches to reduce turbulence. The front is chrome-laden and there’s chrome on the sides at the lower window sill, door handles and the fender turn indicator. At the back, the split two-door boot design is popularly referred to as ‘barn doors’.
On the inside
Like the outside, the interior is typically Mini – there’s the instantly identifiable circular 8.8-inch central display. The steering wheel with its round central boss and switches, the oval gear knob, the cool toggle switches on the dash and roof panel for the light and sunroof controls are other highlights. The central screen acts as the display for the music, phone, navigation and the car's various settings like the drive modes. The touchscreen is very responsive, though some of the on-screen buttons are too tiny to operate accurately while on the move. The large LED panel arcs the central display and lights up based on the mood lighting or based on the varying values of the music volume, AC temperature and air flow.
The dashboard has a neat-looking decorative strip stretching across its width and the cabin has monochrome British tartan prints and Union Jack motifs. The AC vents have neatly styled direction knobs that also twist to completely close air flow. The speedo is a large circular unit with a display housed within; the tacho is built into a circle connected to the speedo.
As far as safety is concerned, the Clubman has front, side airbags and curtain airbags, and all seats get 3-point belts. Active safety features include ABS with cornering brake control and dynamic stability control.
The cabin isn’t outrageously spacious but it’s certainly cosy. The front seats are comfortable and well supported with a handy, extendable lower thigh support. The sides are well bolstered too. While Mini believes the rear can easily seat five, the middle passenger may not be the most comfortable. This is due to the well-sculpted outer rear seats that keep those seated here in comfort. Legroom isn’t amazing but the scooped-out rear seatbacks create enough knee room for average-sized adults.
Storage space is more than adequate – there’s a decent-sized glovebox, various cubby holes around the front, door pockets that can hold 1-litre bottles, rear door storage pockets and a 360-litre boot that can be extended via the flip-down rear back seats. The Clubman gets no spare and so the boot has a significantly large underfloor storage area that holds the warning triangle and toolkit but can hold some more of your stuff.
From behind the wheel
This is a car that’s built to attract older customers, so Mini has given the Clubman a revised steering and suspension setup that makes for a relatively less keen steering and more pliable ride. But, the Clubman still delivers a driving experience that's very characteristically Mini. The car corners with hardly any body roll and while the turn-in is crisp and eager, you do feel the extra weight and length out back, especially during rapid lane changes.
Drive it hard and you’re definitely going to have a grin plastered on your face. Compared to the Mini hatch, the suspension does a surprisingly good job of soaking up bumps. Larger potholes also bring out a loud thud from the suspension and it makes you wince – be careful piloting this car over potholes.
The Clubman’s petrol engine is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox that’s quick to shift and also has a launch control function. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol is the same unit that powers the 3-door hatch and the convertible. Peak power output is at 192hp and a maximum torque of 280Nm from a low 1,250rpm makes the Mini very drivable with hardly any lag despite being a turbo.
The engine is responsive with the Clubman pulling off the line quickly until about the 2,300rpm mark where it catches a second wind and pulls even harder in a firm and linear manner. The Mini has three drive modes that alter the steering response and the transmission the shift speeds too.
Is it worth the money?
If you want a car that stands out, is practical, and is capable of putting a smile on your face when you’re in the mood, then this is a car you should consider. But, it is pricey, and with a fairly light ‘standard’ list, you could end up spending a lot more speccing it. The Mercedes A-class or the Volvo V40 offer a whole lot more for much lesser. However, they aren’t nearly as ‘fun’. But overall, it’s funky, it’s simply brilliant to drive and, on the whole, a step away from the usual.