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.