MINI Clubman Review
The Mini Clubman is as close as the company gets to producing an estate. It’s a decent family car and feels more grown up than smaller Minis, but it’s very easy to end up with a very expensive car
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Distinctive looks
- Lively engines
- Nice to drive
What's not so good
- Not cheap
- Not as spacious as rivals
- Poor rear visibility
MINI Clubman: what would you like to read next?
The Mini Clubman is the second largest car the firm builds (after the Countryman) and is an interesting alternative to established mainstream models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra – and even more upmarket cars like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
If you remember the previous Clubman, this model is something a little different – although little is hardly the word, given that it’s almost exactly the same length as a Volkswagen Golf. It’s also rather less oddball, as it has dispensed with the single rear door arrangement of the old car in favour of a more conventional layout and more space inside.
What it hasn’t lost, though, is the obvious link to the rest of the Mini range. It’s immediately clear at first glance that this couldn’t be anything other than a Mini – and the same is true inside, where it’s very different to what you’ll find in a VW or Ford.
The dashboard is dominated by a large screen that sits where the speedometer used to be in older Minis and can be 6.5 or 8.8 inches in size depending on the trim level. The controller on the central console operates most of the car’s systems – just as the iDrive system does in parent company BMW’s cars – so there are less buttons to clutter up the dashboard. And, as in any Mini, there’s plenty of scope to personalise the dashboard.
There is plenty of room for the driver and front passenger in the comfy and supportive seats, too, and the rear seats have more than enough room for a couple of adults. Three would be a bit of a squeeze, but it won’t be as tight as it was in the old model. All in all, with a decent-sized boot as well, it’s clear that the Clubman could make a very effective family car.
You have to wonder if Mini has forgotten what the word mini actually means, because the Clubman is a pretty big car. But, when it’s this good, I can kind of forgive them
The only real issue is that the split rear doors limit visibility in the rear-view mirror. Essentially there’s a vertical line right in the middle of the rear windscreen, and that could be big enough to hide a cyclist in traffic. Those split rear doors can also make it awkward to get things in and out of the boot when the car’s parked in a tight space.
Then again, in a class of same-again hatchbacks, that distinctive rear end is very much a selling point – as is the way the Clubman drives. Admittedly, it’s set up a little softer than the smaller models and some may feel that it’s a little too grown up for a Mini, but given that this is a family car, that’s fair enough.
So, while the Clubman is agile and competent, the focus is on a smooth ride and the car is very comfortable over long distances. For the first time, the Clubman is also available with four-wheel drive for excellent grip in slippery conditions.
The engine range is similar to what you’ll find in other Minis and the Cooper S is by far the most fun to drive. However, if you spend most of your time in the city, you should go for the petrol-engined Cooper, whereas the economical Cooper D diesel will suit drivers with a high annual mileage, who spend a lot of time on the motorway.
If there is a drawback, it’s that the Clubman’s prices are more premium than mainstream – more Audi A3 than Vauxhall Astra – and that means it can look a little expensive. You do still get sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and a DAB radio on even the most basic Classic model, but some of the most desirable features are in option packs. They include the larger infotainment screen, climate control and heated front seats, as well as the Parking Assistant and autonomous braking systems. And, on top of that, it’s very easy to spend lots on personalising your car, meaning it could end up very expensive.
For all that, the Mini Clubman is still a desirable car and a huge improvement over the old model. You also get some of the best engines in the class, better-than-average handling and a more comfortable ride.
There are many reasons to buy the Mini, but most come from the heart. Not a lot of sensible-minded buyers will go for it over the more accomplished VW Golf.