When the MINI Clubman first came along in 2007 almost everything about it caused a few raised eyebrows – even the name.
The concept of a MINI-based estate wasn’t new, of course, but the original version was usually named Traveller or Countryman. Based on the existing MINI hatch, the Clubman had a small, 260-litre boot that, while offering a practical flat floor, was not a particularly significant space. Throw in a pair of side-hinged boot doors and the tiny side ‘Clubdoor’ – which in the UK threw rear seat passengers out into the road – and the whole thing was an enigma.
The 2015 2nd generation Clubman is a different proposition entirely. Sticking with the name – we’re used to it by now – and the characteristic rear double-doors, MINI has changed just about every other aspect of the car to deliver a far better vehicle.
At 4,253mm long it still holds the title of smallest estate car on sale, but now it’s based on a lengthened version of the MINI 5 door hatch chassis. This means there’s now a 360 litre boot – expanding to 1,250 litres with the rear seats folded down – again on a practical flat floor, making it as roomy as a regular hatchback but far easier to fit loads in.
With the 5-door as its origin, gone is the awkward Clubdoor. The Clubman now has four full sized doors, so it’s now far improved as a passenger car too. The longer wheelbase, while liberating some interior space, also makes for a more stable and more comfortable ride – something the original did not necessarily excel at.
It retains the excellent value for money as the original Clubman though. Depending on your preferred choice of engine the Clubman will return between 45.6mpg (Cooper S) and 68.9mpg (Cooper D) combined, while the Cooper SD provides a great compromise between economy and performance, with a combined rating of 65.7mpg and a sports car-surprising 7.4s 0-60mph sprint.
There’s a good range of standard equipment too. All Clubmans come with satellite navigation and the MINI Excitement Package, which features a projection of the brand logo on to the ground beneath the driver’s side door mirror when the car is opened and closed, as well as extended interior lighting.
While customers may have been unconvinced by the first generation of MINI Clubman, the new car makes a far more compelling case for itself – particularly with prices starting £19,995.