MINI Clubman review
The MINI Clubman is the British brand’s take on the hum-drum estate car. It looks great and comes with plenty of kit but more traditional alternatives are cheaper and more practical.
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Practical family estate cars don’t tend to be the most exciting cars on sale, but the funky MINI Clubman goes some way towards bucking that trend. Sure, the old car’s asymmetrical rear doors have long since gone, but it still has a huge sense of fun that you won’t find in the likes of the VW Golf Estate.
A big part of this is down to how it looks. At the front, you get all the hallmarks of the cutesy and cool MINI hatchback, while at the back there’s a set of double barn doors inspired by the sixties original and – if you fancy – some optional Union Jack brake lights.
If you’re the type who wants their MINI to stand out, the Clubman comes with plenty of personalisation options, including various contrasting roof and mirror designs, stripes on the bodywork and, inside, a range of plush trim inserts and colourful leather seats.
Even without these extras, the MINI Clubman’s interior has the VW Golf beaten hands-down in the style stakes. The easy-to-use infotainment system, for example, is set in a round mood-lit bezel that makes it look like you’re peering at the sat-nav through the portal on a cruise ship and the free-standing speedometer and rev-counter feel more like they belong on a sporty hot hatch.
Sure, some of these features won’t appeal to everyone, but at least everyone short of a Harlem Globetrotter will agree there’s plenty of space in the MINI’s roomy front seats to get comfy. Things get a bit cosy if you try to carry three adults in the back at once, but two tall passengers have space to stretch out and there’s room to fit a bulky child seat.
It’s a little tricky to recommend the MINI Clubman over the likes of the cheaper and roomier VW Golf Estate, but it’s easy to be won over by the MINI’s eye-catching looks and funky retro cabin.
Unfortunately, things aren’t so spacious in the MINI Clubman’s boot, which is smaller than that in a VW Golf – let alone a VW Golf Estate. At least it’s easy to load heavy luggage and the split rear doors let you open half of the bootlid if you need to throw in a few last-minute bits and bobs.
So, the MINI Clubman isn’t the most practical small estate car on sale, but it is at least one of the most fun to drive. Even the entry-level model will put a big grin on your face on a twisty backroad while sportier Cooper S and racy four-wheel-drive JCW models feel nippier and much more nimble. The fast JCW will even sprint from 0-60mph in less than five seconds – not bad for a boxy estate.
If you’re looking for a car that puts fuel economy ahead of outright speed, there’s also a range of more efficient petrol engines for pottering around town and some diesel versions that’ll lap up long motorway drives.
These less sporty models are also more comfortable to drive for long periods and come with a decent amount of active safety kit to help prevent accidents and take the edge off very long trips.
Unfortunately, all this pushes the price of the MINI Clubman beyond what you’d expect to say for an equally capable and more practical alternative such as the VW Golf. If, however, a car’s style is just as important as its substance, then the undeniably funky MINI Clubman is certainly worth a second look. Head over to our MINI Clubman deals page to see how much you can save on this stylish family estate car.