The Mini Clubman remains the coolest cat of the Mini congregation and should be celebrated, even in wagon-averse Singapore
This is the facelifted Mini Clubman. It’s the estate/wagon Mini, and like the rest of the Mini line-up now has received its mid-life going over.
Before we delve into the details, here’s a fact about a car that may SHOCK you, even if doctors do not HATE it. We’re speaking in caps because it’s a MINI, obviously.
Clickbait-baiting aside, it will surprise you to know that the Mini Clubman is the second-most popular Mini here in Singapore, after the ‘standard’ Mini three-/five-door hatch.
Mini sold 77 Clubmen last year. We gave the title of the best-selling, small luxury wagon to the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake, but we don’t know how many non-CLA wagons Mercedes sold. It sold a total of 89 wagons here last year, so the exact figure is up in the air, but it could well be the Clubman has the Shooting Brake clubbed here.
It’s important because the sales back up the positive Clubman experience. As the stretched, wagon-ised version of a modern Mini, the Clubman blends Mini style with a dose of practicality that makes it all the more endearing.
You may be familiar with the facelift measures, which we’ve already covered in our test drives of the best-selling Mini, the Mini One five-door, and the sun-loving Cooper S Cabriolet, all of which we’ve tested and you can read about on CarBuyer.com.sg
New LED headlights and (also LED) Union-Jacked taillights, a redesigned front grille which no longer has a piano black section and appears more homogeneous. One way to identify the Cooper S, besides the bonnet scoop and the ‘S’ badge, is the black ‘eyeliner’ around the headlights, which is chrome on regular models.
The colour shown here is Indian Summer Red, a new orange-carmine paint choice that fits the brand character quite well. British Racing Green Metallic and Enigmatic Black Metallic are two new paint choices.
The interior is largely unchanged, besides the addition of an updated 6.5-inch screen for the new infotainment system, which is now touch-enabled – though you’ll primarily use the rotary controller – and has the Mini Connected suite of services.
It certainly does have its uses, such as monitoring the status of your car and making navigation easier. Overall it’s a cabin that’s easy to get to grips with, with everything in a sensible position, a design move we strongly support in all Minis.
One niggle is the steering wheel audio control scheme. To skip forward a track you have to press down, rather than the universally-accepted right. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes you have to press it twice, sometimes once.
That’s the downside of Mini-ness I guess, but it’s much less irritating than the previous-gen. At least the best part about the Clubman, the space, is still there in spades.
Five adults will fit in-car without emulating sardines, and four doors helps logistics considerably. This Clubman is the second-gen version, which thankfully ditches the ridiculous ‘club-door’, a small, backwards-opening door ostensibly included for passenger convenience but inconveniently located on the driver’s side. Insert joke about Mini’s Real British-ness™ here.
Jibes aside, the boot has space for 360-litres of cargo. Decent, considering a VW Golf has 380-litres of space, and the Mini 5-door just 278-litres. The wide loading aperture is another plus, as is the 1,350-litres available with the seats folded down, though you do need to take extra care of the wide-opening barn doors.
Though the Clubman is 150kg heavier than the equivalent Mini five-door hatch it doesn’t lose too much in the driving department. It’s actually less twitchy and less tiring to drive over long distances, but still feels like it lives for apexes and makes short work of corners.
With the Cooper S variant that has192hp, you can easily make the front wheels squeal and throw it around hard enough for tail wiggle, which spells driving delight. A mechanical difference is the switch from an eight-speed automatic gearbox to a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, the result are what feels like snappier shifts when in sport mode, and the same smoothness in normal driving.
It isn’t the biggest Mini around – that title belongs to the Countryman SUV – but the Clubman straddles the spacious-useful divide while still being very Mini in character, and it’s considerably less expensive than its SUV brother.
The least expensive Clubman, the One, starts at S$132,888 with COE, add on S$7k for the 1.5-litre turbo Cooper model. This Cooper S model, with the 2.0 engine, makes things expensive at S$155,888 with COE, while the range topping JCW is S$204,888 with COE, but gives you 306hp to play with.
If it were our money, we’d plump for the excellent 1.5-litre Cooper, whose turbocharged inline triple engine sounds great and has just enough fury for fun and games. Nevertheless, it underscores the fact that the Clubman is a surprisingly solid choice, a Mini with a utilitarian sense of purpose that tempers the brand’s sometimes flighty image.
Mini Clubman Cooper S
|Engine||1,998cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||192hp at 5000-6000rpm|
|Torque||280Nm at 1350-4600rpm|
|VES Band / CO2||B / 138g/km|
|Agent||Eurokars Mini Habitat|
|Price||S$155,888 with COE|
|Verdict||Characterful, cool, drives well, and still very useful – the Clubman is our favourite Mini in Singapore|