Random cars we like

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Car Of The Week – F55 MINI Clubman D


ThunderBeast our Gen 1 GP went into MINI for a service and some new shocks and bushes and while it was in the garage MINI lent us a MINI Clubman Diesel to try.


It came in pepper white with black roof and no packages on it, which allowed us to weigh up what you got if you didn’t go mad on the options tick list. A basic but perfectly useable sat nav is standard and again the radio is perfectly useable but basic in sound. The cloth non sport seats were comfortable enough and the steering wheel was adjustable for height and reach. The Diminutive Lady P was perfectly comfortable behind the wheel and it was also clear that the 6 footers of this world would have plenty of room too. Luggage space and room in the back was fine too. The option list was miles long and you could make this a luxury compact cruiser very easily.



It’s handsome. It’s elegant.


This was a big surprise. The diesel is faster than our SD Paceman coming with 150 hp and 300nm and it was a very nippy and forgiving engine. Our Paceman punishes you if you are in the wrong gear, while this one is much more forgiving and therefore flattering to an average driver. It is also refined lacking the industrial feeling of the R55 basic Diesel and the R55 SD. If /when the SD comes along I would expect something rather special having sampled this one.



Neither of us are F1 drivers or track trained drivers so we know nothing. But the car felt tidy to us. Very nippy, nice gear changes, smooth braking. The most grown up MINI we have ever driven.

As owners of a Coupe and a Paceman, we have had to listen to a lot of nonsense along the lines of, “ yeah but it’s not a MINI is it.” Well the Clubman I think has finally cracked this bugbear. By a countryman mile this is so not a MINI, so completely unlike any other MINI, so different in sophistication than anything before it. Yet this seems to be getting accepted. I hope it does it deserves to. As soon as you see it you know it’s a MINI (this is also true of Paceman’s Countryman’s and Coupe’s) yet it adds a level of sophistication to the driving and ride not seen before.

Would I have one? You bet I would. I’d stop short of the JCW. I’d have an SD or an S. I would tick all the options, including automatic gearbox and create a luxury compact cruiser. It would cost about £35k, which is why the order has to wait for the lottery win before it is placed, but place it I would.



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Car Of The Week -AutoBeast Test Drives The F56 JCW

  This morning we finally got around to taking a closer look at the new F56 John Cooper Works courtesy of Cotswolds Cheltenham. The car has been reviewed many times over on the net with generally favourable reviews, so I am not going to go down the same full on review. In those terms suffice to say, it is quick fun and very polished – we like it a lot. Here though is a bit of the detail that caught our eye.

The one I drove was automatic with chili pack and other extras giving it an on the road price of £34000. For this we got a Heads up display unit, which because of the driving assistance pack gave you three bits of information – your speed, the speed of the road you are on and a graphic rev counter, its position can be adjusted to suit your eye level and  instantly I loved this – the information you needed just where you needed to see it.


The next thing I noticed were the seats. These are  I believe the standard works seat, a mixture of fabric, alcantara and leather. They look fabulous and are instantly vey comfortable and very grippy. Yep sold on the seats.

   The steering wheel felt good in the hand and looked very professional, it suited the whole car interior which looks premium and polished. Then there is the auto box. Well for me it was awesome. I loved it and would definitely have it in this version. First, the car is quicker as an auto than a manual. Secondly, autos are dull a sports car should be a stick? Well… Not really, you see with a stick you get to drive the car one way i.e by changing gear. With the auto however, you get options.  Stick it into drive and let the car do the work. Fun and you tend not to look an arse. Alternatively put into a manual sport mode and change up and down yourself using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.  What a blooming hoot. Trust me it’s great fun. Thirdly the car has the fuel saving stop/start function. My wife, Mrs P still hates this on our Paceman and JCW but matched to this auto box, it is just so smooth and simple. You slow down by braking and come to a stop. The engine switches off, the lights go green you move your foot over to the accelerator and you just go. So so smooth. Spot the bit of red below seeming to stick out of the side of the inner part of the steering wheel. Well actually it is in the middle of the centre console flick switches. It is a shiny red start button. Yep a shiny red start button. Mum… It’s got a shiny red start button can I have one Mum can I?

  It’s fast too and yet refined if that is how you want it to be. the ride is sporty when required but comfortable and refined (by MINI standards) if you need it to be.  So put simply I was impressed. So… Am I getting one? No. Why not, well we love our JCW Coupé so we would want this as well as the Coupé, not instead of and to be honest we haven’t got a spare £34K this week, in fact nor next week either. But if I had, yep I’d have one of these in an instant.

For my money there are a number of very special MINI models. The First Generation GP is one and one I still hanker for badly, Don’t know about the second generation GP to be honest. The R58 MINI Coupé JCW is for my money another very special MINI and now I think this one is too. This one is probably the most accomplished all round JCW of the lot but car lovers have no rationality or logic, it’s all about the heart and the seat vibrations that stir the heart so a GP owner or a MINI Coupé JCW owner will probably be just as disgustingly happy with their cars.

Conclusion – make no mistake this car is a cracker all the way down to its crackling good exhaust.

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Car Of The Week – MINI Paceman JCW For Sale

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This car was bought new by some friends of ours and when I first saw it, which you can read about here, it inspired us to buy our Paceman  – a red SD with a white roof – which we have loved from day one. Now this car has come up for sale and I have to say what a cracker it is – a low mileage JCW with one extremely careful owner for new. This Paceman needs a good, loving home!

Here are the specs:-

Key facts

  • 2013
  • Petrol
  • Hatchback
  • Manual
  • 6500 miles

Media pack, Chili Pack, absolute black exterior, leather lounge championship black/red interior, anthracite roof lining, rain sensor with auto headlight, sport decal stripe, sun protect glass, heated seats, Xenon headlights, full bluetooth, DAB digital radio, sat nav with voice control, sport suspension, 18″ burnished black alloys, heated mirrors & washer jets, thatcham 1 alarm, sport button, seal & protect, parking sensors, 2 remote keys, full history with manual, 1 lady owner from new, immaculate condition throughout, must be seen, very low miles, in daily use will go up slightly but not being used much, viewings welcome. Priced to sell., BLACK, 4 seats, £19,800

Running costs

Urban mpg 30.1 mpg CO2 emissions 172 g/km
Extra Urban mpg 45.6 mpg Annual Tax £205
Average mpg 38.2 mpg


Engine power 211 bhp Engine size 1598 cc
Acceleration (0-60mph) 6.9 seconds Top speed 140 mph
Wheel drive Four Wheel Drive

The car is currently for sale on AutoTrader  I just wish I had the money!

And Sold in 1 day!

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Car Of The Week – BorrowedBeast, A Gen. 1 MINI Cooper S Convertible

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A pal of mine from work Andy, recently bought this generation one MINI Cooper S Convertible and before he did he rang me to ask what I thought. Well clearly then he was smitten by the car so  he rang the one person he knew would just say, “Yep great car just go for it!” Soon after he bought it I gave his daughter a lift home and was greeted by Andy, keys in hand chomping at the bit to give me a test drive of his new MINI. I grabbed the keys, adjusted the driver’s seat, noted the GPS where the central speedo usually sits and that I had both a speedo and rev counter sat atop the steering wheel. I fired her up and  instantly remembered that this was a first generation MINI, one with a supercharger. These are exciting cars to drive. Continue reading