Driving around the corners in a Mini Clubman remains a joyous thing to do, despite the diminished go-kart effervescence of the Mini Hatch. This is something that’s expected, especially if you’ve just come into this six-door Mini from a Mini with half the number of doors. And understandable too, the Clubman is one of Mini’s largest vehicle in the stable.
A touch of understeer here and a dab of body roll there, Clubman comes out of a corner with plenty of grip and stability in reserve. And the suspension does a remarkable job in keeping the car parallel to the road. Having said that, the Clubman can attack the apexes with the same eagerness that Minis are always known for. The difference is in the handling — the Clubman predictable and progressive that offers for a smoother flow from apex to apex instead of snapping them up as how the smaller Mini would.
On roads where the three-door Mini rides harsh, the Clubman’s spring and dampers offer a supple ride, absorbing the peaks and valleys of the typical road. But don’t get fooled into thinking that you’re in a 5-Series, the Mini still thumps over bumps more so when you’re going fast.
The Clubman has more than enough power on tap. The wagon, in Cooper S configuration, hosts a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that generates 192hp and 280Nm. Fast acceleration of 7.2 seconds from zero to 100kph should clue you in that the Clubman has power on tap, more than enough to run up steeper gradients without effort.
Mini’s new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission completes the Clubman’s drivetrain. The gears shift without announcements and deliver power to the wheels the moment the foot touches the pedal. And although it lacks the snappy acceleration of the three-door Mini, the Clubman still is well-suited for running around the city.
A new electronic gear selector comes directly from BMW, even if it wears a different uniform. You press P to park, and the lever returns to centre after every gear selection. Slapping the selector to the right activates Sport mode. Mid and Green let the Clubman coast whenever the foot is off the accelerator to save fuel, which fuels more to the notion that the Clubman favours practicality before pace.
The interior is indeed spacious, making you wonder if the Clubman is really a Mini. The wheelbase of 2,670mm allows for five seats, and the rear seats aren’t just there to fit the narrative that the vehicle has two rear doors. Two adults can sit comfortably at the rear, with enough legroom and elbow space; three is a squeeze but so are other cars in its class. Getting into the Clubman is also made easy with long doors that open wide, albeit the slightly lower roof that requires you to bend just a little more.
But there’s no mistaking this a Mini the moment you slip into the driver’s seat, which is set low. A simple meter cluster that displays only the basic, but essential information. The rest of the clutter usually displayed on the meter cluster is moved to the screen sitting within the coloured ring on the centre stack.
The Clubman’s interior looks good with a design that feels refined. MINI Yours Walknappa Leather feature heavily in here, wrapping the steering and upholstery. Union Jack is featured on the headrests to continue the motif peppered all around the car.
Style doesn’t compromise practicality, and this may be this Mini’s biggest draw. The Clubman’s 360-litre boot space is comparable to the competition, and its seats can be folded down to increase the storage area to 1,250 litres. Access to the boot is through the barn-style doors that open one after the other, which is especially useful in places that don’t offer a lot of rear room.
While the big spaces are good, it is the smaller interior cubby holes that make it easier to live with the Clubman than your average Hatch. Larger cupholders, centre-armrest box and door pockets make it easier to store your mobile phone, house keys, receipts, small change and a SmartTag — all making it easier to live with the Clubman.
The Mini Hatch actually does a marvellous job in carrying the brand name and reputation on its tiny shoulders, but its size does make one hesitant to make the leap. The introduction of the 5-Door Hatch makes it palatable for some. Only the Countryman could satisfy the need for space, although it isn’t as fun to drive. The Mini Clubman strikes that balance between the need for space and the need for speed. Just don’t look at the price tag.
Specification: MINI Cooper S Clubman
Engine 1,998cc, 4-cylinder, inline-4, turbocharged | Transmission 7-speed DCT, front-wheel drive | Power & Torque 192hp @ 5,000-6,000rpm / 280Nm @ 1,350-4,600rpm | Performance 0-100kph in 7.2s, max speed 228kph | Price RM298,888.00