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Mini One Clubman road test report

Clubman

Mini has chosen a good time to launch the latest member of its model range, the One Clubman. The new entry-level estate enters the market just as the iconic little city car celebrates its 50th birthday, but it’s also a good time to launch a car that returns 52.3mpg and emits just 130g/km as we all worry about the effects of the recession and climate change. The Mini One Clubman therefore seems ideally placed to offer a useful alternative for young families who spend much of their time in and around town, but who also take the occasional longer trip.

Road Test Reports Says3.5 star rating
A front-facing image of the Mini One

Image number 2 of the Mini OneImage number 3 of the Mini OneImage number 4 of the Mini One

Performance Performance - 2 stars

The biggest problem with the Mini One Clubman is the fact that it’s powered by a 1.4-litre engine that produces 95bhp and 103lb-ft of torque, which results in a 0-62mph time of 11.6 seconds and a top speed of 114mph. These aren’t great figures, but most of us could probably live with them if it wasn’t for the fact that the torque doesn’t start to kick in until around 2,300rpm. This means that you’re struggling for any real urge at low revs: try turning a corner in second gear and then going up a hill – even a relatively slight one – and the engine feels seriously underpowered. You can adapt your driving style to a certain extent, but keeping the revs up isn’t always possible and also contradicts the aims of all the Minimalism technology (Mini’s version of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics) fitted to the One Clubman.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

This is where the One Clubman comes into its own. Much has been made of the driving dynamics of the Mini since it was revived by BMW in 2001 and this particular variant is no different, having everything you’d expect from a Mini in the ride and handling department. The latest Mini iteration, launched in 2006, has ever so slightly reined in the go-kart-like handling of the car, but it’s still just as agile and involving to drive. The steering is as pointy and precise as you expect from a Mini: there’s not a huge amount of feel, thanks to electric power steering (the previous version had a hydraulic set-up) but it’s still eminently chuckable in the corners. The ride is also excellent, with the Clubman’s extra length (it’s 24cm longer than the hatch, with 8cm more in the wheelbase), thicker roll bar and different damper rates giving it a softer, more compliant quality.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

The build quality of the One Clubman is impressive enough: everything looks well screwed together and the fit and finish of the car certainly lives up the standards of a car built under the umbrella of BMW. On the whole, the materials used in the cabin feel good, but we’re still a little unimpressed with the plastics used in the central console, which feel a bit cheap. The first version of the BMW Mini was no stranger to reliability issues, with the suspension and electrical problems the most common complaints by owners. However, most of the work on the latest iteration has gone on under the skin, so owners have noticed a change. Indeed, the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey placed the Mini in 24th place in a league table of the top 100 most reliable models on the road. The Mini brand itself was placed eighth in the league table of 28 manufacturers.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Mini is a small car, but it’s certainly bulked up compared to the original Austin version. The reason for the increase in size can, in part, be explained by all the extra crash protection built in to modern cars and the One Clubman (which is even bigger than the hatchback) certainly feels solid enough. There’s also plenty of safety equipment on board, even on this entry-level variant. Standard equipment includes Dynamic Stability Control (DSC); ABS anti-lock brakes, featuring Cornering Brake Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist; six airbags (front, side and curtain); crash sensor; a tyre defect indicator; Isofix child seat mounting points; and three-point seatbelts for all five seats, with pre-tensioners. Access through the rear-hinged side Clubdoor is also only possible when the driver’s door is open. Security comes in the form of a Thatcham Category 1 alarm, immobiliser and central locking, which automatically activates above 10mph.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

The Clubman has an extra 8cm of rear legroom compared to the hatchback, so adults up to about six feet in height can sit in the back without any problem. Space up front is also plentiful, with a good range of movement in the driver’s seat and steering wheel, making a good driving position possible for anyone, irrespective of their size. Bootspace isn’t as generous, though. The Clubman has only 260 litres with the seats up and, if you need the extra space for load-lugging but don’t need to use the rear seats, they drop flat to provide up to 930 litres. The main issue surrounding practicality, though, concerns the rear doors. The van-like opening mechanism means that they meet in the middle of the Clubman’s rear, so visibility out the back using the mirror isn’t great. It can be overcome through greater use of wing mirrors, but it’s not an ideal situation.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

The Mini One Clubman’s 1.4-litre engine means that it’s relatively cheap to run. The official fuel economy is 52.3mpg on the combined cycle, with carbon dioxide emissions of 130g/km, placing the car in Band D for road tax, costing £120 per year. The One Clubman comes fitted with al kinds of fuel- and emissions-saving technology, collectively called Minimalism, which includes auto stop/start that cuts the engine when idling in heavy traffic or at the lights. However, as we mentioned earlier, the official fuel economy is likely to suffer in the real world due to the need to keep the engine revs up to maintain power. The One Clubman falls under insurance group 6, so policies shouldn’t be too expensive to maintain. Minis have always retained their value well and we don’t see why the Clubman should be any different, with residuals around the 50% mark after three years.

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