Review

MINI Clubman estate

MINI Clubman estate

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Adequate space in rear for adults
  • Highly original styling
  • Very cheap to run
Cons
  • Expensive to buy
  • Boot is still small
  • Single rear door opens on to the road in UK

"The MINI Clubman offers all the style and driving fun of the MINI hatchback, but in a more practical package."

The MINI Clubman – aka the MINI estate – is designed to combine the quirky styling, classy image and 'go-kart-like' driving experience of the MINI hatchback with greater practicality, more space in the back and a bigger boot.

But MINI doesn't like to do things like everyone else, so you get into the back through a rear-hinged 'club door' on one side of the Clubman only. Two adults can sit comfortably in the back – more then can be said for the MINI Hatch – but the boot is still much smaller than other, more conventional cars like the Volkswagen Golf.

The Clubman's status as the practical MINI has been somewhat stolen by the bigger MINI Countryman, so the unique-looking Clubman is best suited to buyers looking for something different from the norm. It's most definitely not a van and there's even a fast MINI Clubman John Cooper Works estate that can go from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.1 / 5

£200 tlc pack buys five years’ servicing

Here's the good news – while the MINI Clubman is pretty expensive to buy, once you've got it on your driveway it's actually surprisingly cheap to run. All engines are pretty frugal, with the diesel Cooper D returning an excellent 68.9mpg and even the petrol Cooper managing a healthy 51.4mpg.

Adding MINI's good-value 'tlc' pack gives you five years' servicing for only £200. That all adds up to a premium car that costs very little to own. Obviously, the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models aren't quite as cheap to run, but they're certainly more fun to drive.

Engines, drive & performance

3.4 / 5

Clubman is fun to drive, with good engines

Bigger dimensions make the Clubman more comfortable than the smaller MINI hatchback. Unfortunately, they also make it feel less like an agile go-kart, but it does cope better with bumps and potholes. You still sit low in the car, but lots of adjustment in the steering wheel and driver's seat means it's easy to find an excellent driving position.

While the steering is less accurate than the hatchback's, only the 98bhp 1.6-litre One model feels underpowered, forcing you to change down the gears to accelerate fast when the car is fully loaded. The Cooper D is much better and more capable, and the performance-focused 208bhp John Cooper Works (JCW) model is both loud and very fast. For the best performance per pound, choose the One D, which has CO2 emissions of only 103g/km and returns decent fuel economy.

Interior & comfort

2 / 5

Spacious, but driver's-side rear door is a pain

The distinctive design of the Clubman creates extra space but also reduces comfort. The Clubman offers more rear legroom than the MINI hatchback, but the only rear door is on the driver's side. This means that in the UK, it opens out on to the road instead of the kerb – not the most child-friendly set-up. MINI's excuse is that it would have cost too much to switch the door to the other side on right-hand-drive cars. The door is rear-hinged, however, so getting into the back seats is very easy.

Once you're in the back, the Clubman doesn't feel as spacious as a VW Golf or equivalent. Door safety aside, there's just enough space to fit two child seats in the back, while most adults will be able to squeeze in comfortably for short trips. The ride is still a bit firm, but more comfortable than either the hatchback or convertible models.

Practicality & boot space

2.4 / 5

Boot still small; rear door opens on to road

Most family hatchbacks offer around 350 litres of storage space when the back seats are in place, but the Clubman only offers 260 litres. Although that's 100 litres more the MINI hatchback can hold, it's hardly spacious by class standards. If you put a child's pushchair in the back, there won't be much room for anything else in the boot. Fold the seats down and you get 930 litres – about the same as a Citroen DS3.

The barn-door style rear doors make loading easy, but also make it hard to see out the back when driving. Even though the Clubman's biggest improvement over the three-door hatchback model is that adults can actually sit in the back, the Clubman is not the most practical car available for the price.

Reliability & safety

3.5 / 5

Plenty of safety equipment means Clubman is very safe

Since its rebirth under BMW ownership in 2001, the MINI brand has established a strong reputation for great build quality. However, customers haven't been totally satisfied with the reliability of the car, and it falls behind some of its competitors in this area.

The Clubman has excellent safety credentials that should boost its appeal to family buyers – electronic stability control, ISOFIX child-seat mounts and six airbags are all standard. Although the Clubman itself hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, its sister cars in the MINI range have secured five-star ratings, scoring top marks for adult occupant protection.

Price, value for money & options

2.5 / 5

Significantly more expensive than MINI hatchback

You'll pay roughly £1,000 more for the Clubman than the standard MINI hatchback, but that's almost justified by the extra space you get for your money. It's still very expensive, however, and we just don't think it's worth it. On the plus side, the Clubman is likely to have strong resale value due to the popularity and prestige of the MINI brand. That means monthly lease payments will be low and buyers will get a good price when they go to sell their car.

What the others say

3.9 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"Sadly, the boot isn’t that impressive. It's certainly a big improvement over the hatchback's – the Clubman is 244mm longer than the three-door, which helps boost capacity from 160 litres to 260 litres."
3 / 5
"It's basically a Mini with more space, so you get the same enjoyable drive, a ride that's never uncomfortable and strong residuals – with room for four adults."
4 / 5
"The MINI Clubman is a more practical alternative to the standard hatchback. It's longer and offers more legroom for rear passengers along with extra boot space. It also packs some neat design touches including spilt rear doors, a dual-level boot floor and a single ‘clubman’ side door for easier access into the rear seats. But despite the extra space this is not an ideal family car – the rear is cramped and luggage room is still limited."
4.5 / 5
"When the torquey engine of the Cooper S version is pulling hard on a road with a pronounced crown, the steering falls onto lock and writhes in direction changes. On flatter surfaces the Clubman feels more like the regular Mini – chuckable, grippy and poised – though there is less traction out of tight turns."
Last updated 
4 Mar 2014

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