MINI's second generation Clubman makes a lot of sense in entry-level One D diesel guise, a premium Focus-sized family hatchback at an affordable price. What do the experts at Car & Driving make of it?
Ten Second Review
The second generation MINI Clubman makes a lot more sense than its predecessor and in the Clubman range, the variant that arguably makes most sense is this one, the One D. This least expensive diesel version offers 116bhp, 99g/km of CO2 and 74.3mpg. A potentially tempting set of stats when you're looking at a cost similar to that you'd pay for a diesel version of something much more ordinary.
The Clubman concept is simple. A MINI for the mainstream. And in second generation form, it really is. No cramped rear quarters or quirky doors that dump you into oncoming traffic. Just MINI-ness in a more accessible form. At launch, the diesel variants weren't that accessible, the single 2.0-litre Cooper D model on offer priced from around £22,500. With this 1.5-litre 'One D' variant though, MINI has put that right. Is it the kind of Clubman you really need? Possibly. The product itself certainly looks tempting. With five proper doors this time round, a smarter look, extra space and all the MINI brand's latest technology, it's an intriguing prospect.
MINIs have always been known for handling excellence and this MK2 model Clubman is no exception. Based on the same 'UKL' platform as the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer and measuring the same distance between the wheels, it offers sophisticated suspension with what is promised to be the highest level of ride refinement ever for a MINI. There's a familiar range of engines under the bonnet but the one we're looking at here is the three cylinder 1.5-litre diesel unit, an engine that puts out 116bhp and is offered either with manual or Steptronic automatic transmission. 62mph from rest occupies 10.4s with either gearbox and the top speed is 119mph. There's also more pulling power than you might expect from such a small engine - 270Nm of torque. On the move, it doesn't feel quite as sharp and frisky as an equivalently-powered version of the 5 Door MINI Hatch model to drive, but then this is a larger, heavier car. Anyway, compensation comes with better refinement and far superior ride quality thanks to a purpose-designed multi-link rear suspension system. If you want to tweak the damping, an optional 'Variable Damper Control' control system allows you to do it, working through the 'Green', 'MID' and 'Sport' settings of the 'MINI Driving Modes' system, another extra-cost feature.
Design and Build
There's no disputing that from the outside, the Clubman still looks like a MINI, even though it's actually longer than the Countryman Crossover model. If anything, the Clubman's increased length and width helps stretch this intriguing take on MINI design language, making it to some eyes even more attractive than the basic Hatch versions. The key change that owners of the previous generation models will notice is the availability at last of two rear passenger doors, both fitted with frameless windows for a coupe (or old school Subaru) feel. The unique Minivan-style split rear doors for the loadbay remain though. What has changed here is the option buyers now have of opening them at the push of a button on the key fob or by waggling a foot under the rear bumper. The rear lights have been twisted 90 degrees and are now mounted on the rear doors, helping make the Clubman appear broader. The same effect is achieved by the wide-spaced twin exhausts on the Cooper S. There are still plenty of Mini design touches inside too, including toggle switches, lashings of chrome and a circular theme running through the cabin. For the first time, the centre console meets the main dashboard, offering increased storage - and there's an electronic parking brake too. Look down at the wheel and you'll also notice the BMW 'i-Drive' style rotary controller which was introduced in the MINI hatch, this feature promising easier navigation of the built-in infotainment system which includes sat-nav on all models. The boot size is a respectable 360-litres - or 1250-litres with the rear seats down.
Market and Model
Premium cars come with premium price tags, so it's no surprise to find that you'll need to pay over £20,000 for this model - just over £21,000 to be exact for this One D Clubman, though that's well over £1,000 less than the 2.0-litre Cooper D Clubman variant and around £3,500 less than the identically-engined BMW 2 Series Active Tourer model this car is based upon. If you're a keen driver, then the Clubman's performance and promise of go kart-like handling may be enough to seal the deal. Equipment levels are pretty generous, with the Cooper receiving 16" alloy wheels, sat-nav, Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity, a central display with LED ring and start/stop with keyless start. You also get an 'Excitement Pack' which adds extended interior lighting and projects the MINI logo onto the ground when you open the door, just in case you forgot what you were driving. Options include the popular 'Chilli Pack' which has been around since the original 'new' MINI was first introduced. Here, it includes part-leather upholstery with heated sports seats, park distance control, climate control, LED headlights and LED fog lights - all for just shy of £3,000 extra. Expect the usual range of MINI safety features, including ABS, stability control, traction control and optional adaptive cruise control.
Cost of Ownership
This MINI might not be the cheapest car in its class to run but its 1.5-litre three cylinder engine is still pretty frugal. Official figures suggest it'll get 74.3mpg and 99g/km of CO2. That compares to 68.9mpg and 109g/km of CO2 with the Cooper D Clubman model. Buyers should expect a standard 3 year 60,000 mile warranty, with fixed price servicing under MINI's TLC scheme a worthwhile option. Residuals have always been a MINI strongpoint, so your Clubman should retain a good chunk of its value when you come to sell. Just make sure you don't go overboard on the extensive options list; the 'Chilli Pack' has most of the essentials. Speaking of options, try to keep any paint combinations on the tasteful side to maximise resale value.
A lot of potential buyers see this second generation Clubman as a distinct and desirable model - a car that's characterful but distinctly MINI. It needs to make sense too though, and this One D Clubman does. Around 75mpg and sub-100g/km CO2 readings are exactly what a number of customers want to see - such are the befits of engine downsizing. It all means that if you want an economical family hatch that's compact but practical and a bit different, then this Clubman will probably suit. Either way, potential owners have to be people unafraid to fly in the face of convention. If that's you, then a bigger MINI adventure beckons.