The wagon Mini gets the minimised treatment with a new entry-level One variant in Singapore, but it’s not exactly a bargain
It’s about time that the Mini Clubman gets the ‘One’ treatment, meaning the introduction of a new entry-level model.
Mini’s One models are the starter-kit for Your First Mini, having the 1.5-litre triple-cylinder engine in the most relaxed state of tune, and the least expensive equipment aboard.
Being the best-sellers of the Mini hatchback range (the 3-Door and 5-Door) they’re essentially the heart of the modern Mini line-up, and the fact that the Clubman now has a One variant can only be good news.
Earlier this year we tested the range-topping Cooper S Clubman (above) – read the review here – but in a nutshell, we dub the Clubman ‘coolest cat of the Mini congregation and should be celebrated, even in wagon-averse Singapore.’ Because if you want a Mini that can carry stuff, and people, the Clubman’s the way to go.
The question is, is going back to one too much of a reversal for the Clubman?
Keep in mind the Clubman has six doors (the rear hatch is a split barn-door type) and is longer, so the One Clubman is a significant 125kg (or half a David Khoo) heavier than the One 5-Door hatch, and it makes do with 102hp. Not a lot, when you figure than mainstream sedans all have at least 110hp these days.
That equates to a 0-100km/h time of 11.6-seconds, which isn’t rapid by any measure. If a main factor in your buying a Mini is its rapid accretion of velocity, then it stands to reason that the One Clubman is not for you.
The good news is that this doesn’t really matter in real-life, the turbocharged 1.5-litre engine is torquey and gets the car going quite rapidly up to 70km/h, then tapers off, so it’s not like it’s CVT-with-a-non-turbo-engine slow.
The even better news is that, like any other Mini, you can throw the One Clubman into corners and come out giggling on the other side. If you ask us, ripping through corners almost on three wheels is a big part of the Mini experience.
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But the rest of the Clubman gives you lots to enjoy too: Because of the styling, you don’t notice the lack of amenities as much as you would in another brand (there are manual seats, for instance) and Mini’s touchscreen/control dial infotainment system remains useful well-presented.
Bringing three friends along with you is no hardship, although the 360-litre boot will require you to ditch one or two of them if you’re carrying anything large.
If you’re convinced and want to join the Clubman club, should you get the One?
No, the most logical choice is the Cooper Clubman, which has the same characterful engine, but 136hp and does 0-100km/h in a more lively 9.2-seconds, and is our favoured variant for any of the extant Mini models currently.
It’s only S$8k more, at S$150,888 with COE, whereas the 184hp Cooper S is considerably more expensive at S$166,888 with COE.
Why wouldn’t you want to save S$8k or 5.5 percent? If you’re shopping for a Mini, you’re not looking for a bargain. Mini’s still a unique animal, a brand that’s evolved characteristics of both mainstream cars and luxury ones.
Since 2006, for instance, Mini has never sold fewer than 160 cars here, despite recessions and sky-high COE prices, an enviable place for a niche brand to be. But Mini isn’t just about numbers to its fans/buyers, and in the end, the step up from One to Cooper is far more than can be accounted for in 5.5 percent.
|Engine||1,499cc, inline 3, turbocharged|
|Power||102hp at 3900-6500rpm|
|Torque||190Nm at 1380-3600rpm|
|VES Band / CO2||B / ???g/km|
|Price||S$142,888 with COE|
|Verdict||It’s a proper Mini with wagon usefulness and cool, but the Cooper is the one to get|