The new MINI Clubman Estate is the left field, quirky choice in the upmarket family hatchback sector. It certainly looks different to its rivals, but it’s also great fun to drive and boasts unusual boot doors.
Moreover, it’s not as quirky as last time – which some buyers will appreciate.
Of course, not everyone is going to like its distinctive styling, and the side-hinged doors of its predecessor were an oddity too far for some buyers to the extent that MINI has now replaced them with a pair of conventional rear doors.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 MINI Clubman Estate review.
On The Road
On the road, there’s thankfully nothing odd about the way the Clubman drives. Like all MINI’s, it’s bursting with character and provides lots of entertainment. Its handling is lively, its engines are keen, and its suspension is nice and soft.
It’s steering meanwhile, is direct and sharp, and the car feels agile in winding country lanes.
If you want as much power as possible, you’ll need to take a look at the JCW model. However, while it’s the high-performance model in the Clubman range, it doesn’t possess as much power as its rivals. It’s also not that comfortable – hit a pothole and you’ll certainly know about it.
In terms of its engines, the Cooper model sits at the bottom of the range. It’s powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine that comes with three cylinders, and which develops 134bhp. 0-62 is achieved in 9.1 seconds, the engine has a max speed of 127mph, and it feels fairly sporty for an entry-level model.
However, we prefer the peppier Cooper S model. It’s got plenty of punch, develops 189bhp, and has a 0-62 time of 7.2 seconds if you stick to the manual gearbox, and 7.0 seconds if you specify the 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Cooper S is a really fun car to drive. It’s fast and – if you stick to the manual ‘box – it’s also super enjoyable.
A John Cooper Works model rounds the range off with a 0-62 time of 6.3 seconds.
The Clubman’s interior is just as distinctive as its exterior. It’s not too over-the-top, though – it’s actually logically arranged and comfortable. Overall, it’s a really welcoming environment.
A large dial is – as ever-present on the MINI’s console. In the past, it functioned as a giant speedometer, but it’s now a display screen for the infotainment system and sat-nav. In entry-level models, the screen measures 6.5”, whereas in the higher spec models it measures as much as 8.8”.
We like the infotainment system – it’s modern and user-friendly.
And in case you’re wondering where the speedometer is located these days, you’ll find it on the steering column, along with the rev counter. The air conditioning controls, meanwhile, are to be found beneath the central screen.
Is the MINI Clubman Estate practical? As mentioned, the new model isn’t as wacky as last time, and this means it’s more practical. The single rear-hinged door has now gone, with MINI replacing it with two conventional rear doors. As such, access is much easier.
There’s also more interior space than last time, while storage spaces include a storage compartment in the centre console and a reasonably-sized glovebox.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 360-litres. If you fold the rear seats, you can extend that to 1,250-litres. If you specify the storage package, your boot will come with a variable boot floor, attachment net and lashing eyes. A 40:20:40 splitting seat is also optional.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that the new boot still comes with the Clubman’s distinctive twin barn doors. They’ll take some getting used to if you’ve never owned a Clubman before.
Equipment & Safety Of The MINI Clubman Estate
Standard kit across the range is decent, with the entry-level model getting the likes of keyless start, a digital radio, sat-nav and 16” alloys.
The Cooper S model adds a Performance Control system that lets you refine how the car drives, sports seats, twin exhausts and bigger 17” alloys. This trim also adds Apple CarPlay.
The JCW model rounds things off with stainless steel pedals, a better (noisier) exhaust system, bigger alloys and a body kit.
Optional extras are many. Our picks include coloured LED interior lighting, cloth and leather upholstery, LED headlights and rear parking sensors.
In terms of how safe the car is, it’s disappointing that the Clubman was only awarded 4/5 for its Euro NCAP crash test. There isn’t much by the way of standard safety kit either, although all models come with lots of airbag’s, ISOFIX child seat mount points, and a handy head-up display.
Lane keeping assistance isn’t even available as an optional extra.
Costs Of The MINI Clubman Estate
Prices for the new car start at £21,040 and rise to as much as £27,040. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 1.5-litre Cooper engine is the most frugal petrol power plant, returning as much as 55.4mpg on a good day. Meanwhile, emissions stand at 118g/km of CO2, which qualifies it for a BiK rating of 24%.
The Cooper S model is punchier and a better all-rounder. It returns 45.6mpg at best, emits 144g/km of CO2, and has a BiK rating of 29%.
The JCW model, meanwhile, returns 38.2mpg, emits 168g/km, and has a BiK rating of 34%.
Pros and Cons Of The MINI Clubman Estate
There’s certainly no other car on the market that looks like the Clubman.
Full of Character
It’s a characterful and even fun car to drive.
It’s actually the brand’s roomiest car.
Question Marks Over Safety
Question marks will always linger when a car scores 4/5 for their Euro NCAP crash test.
It’s not quite a premium car but it’s premium-priced.
MINI Clubman Estate vs Audi A3 Sportback vs Mercedes A Class
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 MINI Clubman Estate.
MINI Clubman Estate vs Audi A3 Sportback
The new Mercedes A-Class is an exceptionally stylish premium family car that boasts the best cabin in this class.
On the road, the A-Class brings its A game – in terms of comfort, relaxation and luxury that is. This isn’t a sporty car by any means, with Mercedes focusing on making you feel good on the road. To that end, it’s a resounding success.
However, it’s not as responsive or as fun as the MINI, and its steering lacks feel.
A livelier 1.5-litre TFSI petrol unit is handier on the motorway. It develops 148bhp, which gives it a big advantage over the entry-level model, and it can get you from rest to 62mph in 8.2 seconds.
Rounding off the range is a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine that has a 0-62 time of 6.9 seconds.
Running costs? The 1.0-litre engine is the cheapest to run and can return as much as 72.4mpg on a good day, and has a BiK rating of just 19%. The 1.5-litre unit manages 65.7mpg at best and emits 114g/km of CO2.
The 2.0-litre engine, meanwhile, is good for 50.4mpg.
Inside, the Audi is smartly styled and looks and feels like the premium product that it is. The quality of the materials used is high, the styling is minimal and tasteful, and the dashboard is logically arranged.
As ever with modern Audi’s, a 12.3” TFT screen and its accompanying Virtual Cockpit are a highlight, but they’re not standard on all models. Instead, the entry-level model has to make do with a 5.8 colour screen.
Is the Audi A3 Sportback practical? It’s longer than the last time and is easily one of the most spacious cars in this market. However, two adults will be a lot more comfortable than three in the rear. Moreover, although there are none of the MINI’s quirky rear doors in sight, access is still tricky thanks to how low the car is.
Accessing the boot is a much more straightforward affair than the MINI, and it measures a respectable 380-litres. That makes it bigger than last time, and if you fold the rear seats you can extend it to 1,220-litres.
MINI – £21,040 – £27,040
Audi – £21,340
MINI Clubman Estate vs Mercedes A Class
The new Skoda Kodiaq is an excellent seven-seater that offers plenty of value for money.
On the road, it’s not as exciting as the Mazda but it can offer a very enjoyable driving experience. It’s competent enough, and its precise steering makes it easy for you to place it on the road.
Body roll is well resisted, and the Kodiaq is just as much fun as the Ford in 2018. Despite its newfound sense of adventure, it’s also comfortable. It’s perhaps not the smoothest of the smooth, but we’ve got few complaints on this front.
In terms of its engines, a brand new for 2018 turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine sits at the bottom of the range. It completes the 0-62 dash in 8.0 seconds flat, but it does feel a bit out of breath when you work it hard.
We like the 2.0-litre 220bhp petrol engine better. It powers the A250 model, has a 0-62 time of 6.2 seconds and maxes out at 155mph. Both engines, though, lack the character of the MINI.
Running costs? The bigger 2.0-litre engine is the most expensive to keep on the road, but we think returns of 45.6mpg and emissions of 141g/km of CO2 are respectable. It has a BiK rating of 29%.
Inside, the A-Class has the best cabin in this market. It excels on all fronts – tech, quality and design. It looks futuristic and yet restrained, it feels comfortable and well-insulated, while its dashboard is positive state of the art stuff, with all models coming with two 7” infotainment screens.
Is the Mercedes A-Class practical? This is one area where the car falls short of some of its rivals. It’s bigger than last time, but those sat in the rear might still find themselves squeezed for space.
A high floor again means headroom is still limited, while the boot measures 370-litres. Fold the rear seats and you can extend it to 1,210-litres. It’s a good shape (better than last time), while a wide opening will prove useful.
Mercedes – £24,920
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Can a car really be considered upmarket and quirky? The Clubman has been trying to prove that a car totally can, and it’s been trying to do this since 2008. To a large extent, it’s succeeded. In fact, the car’s biggest deficiencies in the past have been its cramped interior. In 2018, MINI has remedied this problem and the MINI Clubman Estate is now a solid all-rounder that’s fun, practical, upmarket – and still very different to its rivals.