Mini Cooper Clubman 1.5: Mini’s Maxi Club

There was a time when the Mini brand was famous for its nimble and cute-looking Coopers. The “Mr Bean” car design, coupled with its go-kart nimbleness and driveability, has no doubt won over adrenaline junkies over the years.

But Mini has not stopped there, and in fact, it has continued evolving from its traditional Cooper to bigger and larger variants, maximising space and comfort, while retaining its agility.

One such example is the new Mini Cooper Clubman.

On first looks, it’s just a maxi Cooper.

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Yes, it is.

In fact, the Clubman retains most of Mini’s traditional aesthetic features, from its signature bug-eyed headlamps and open-mouthed grille. The Clubman, based on Mini’s 5-door concept, now offers much desired convenience for the family man with the presence of 5 doors.

As bulky as it looks, the Clubman still holds a portion of Mini’s playful notions and sleek charms. Features such as their signature eyebrow daytime running lights and over-arching bonnet lid presents the Clubman as a more than welcome sight to jump in for a drive.

Over at the rear, the Clubman’s boot can easily be accessible via two split doors with the click of the handles. While we lament the possibility of getting your goods drenched during a downpour, this does profile itself as one of the more unique tail lids in the market.

An equally playful (and spacious) interior

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The Clubman’s unique selling point boils down to the space it offers over the smaller Minis. We acknowledged this point by means of the amount of space we had both in front and at the rear.

Mini’s conventional large round display at the center console stands out, complemented by the aircraft-lookalike toggle switches below. Quality of the Clubman has been improved compared to the rest in its class, and you get to enjoy features such as Bluetooth compatibility, audio functions, as well as a sport horsepower/torque display in the infotainment system. Sadly, both navigation and reverse camera are not standard features here.

Over at the rear, we managed to fit three average sized Asian adults, though we reckon it would have been more comfortable with only two. Parents with infants need not worry, for the rear space would be more than sufficient for any child seat.

Popping open the boot, the Clubman offers 360 litres of boot space. Not a lot per se but you might wish to note that it’s expandable to 1,250 litres with the rear seats down (not that you would be moving furniture in a Mini though).

How’s the go-kart experience in such a maxi-Mini?

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When we were handed over the keys, we were rather suspicious on how a three-pot 1.5 litre plant would be able to live up to Mini’s go-kart reputation. After all, it puts out only 136 horsepower and 220 Nm of torque, similar to that of the facelifted BMW 318i Sport.

But just a few minutes into our drive and we began to truly enjoy how this Mini, albeit being larger than usual, felt the same way, if not better than the rest in its class – extremely nimble, exceedingly responsive, and a pure joy to drive.

The six-speed automatic transmission delivered gears without the slightest hitch, and while acceleration isn’t as swift as we expected, the Clubman indeed matched up to our expectations even on windy and curvy roads.

For an added adrenaline rush, a flick to Sport mode via the throttle knob just below the gear level engages Mini’s “go-kart” experience, where you get to truly exploit what this 1.5 litre has to offer. We reckon that the Cooper S Clubman might provide a more adrenaline-filled ride, but this in itself is a wonder to experience.

But for S$148,000, is this a worth-it buy?

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Truth be told, S$148 grand would get you a number of decent cars on the roads, be it of continental makes, or the more adventurous and raw JDM drives.

But if you compare what the Mini Cooper Clubman has to offer with the rest in question, you’ll soon realise that the Clubman presents a perfect blend of German and British flavour, mixing luxury with power and more importantly, the fun in driving such a signature brand on the road.

Welcome to the Club, we say.

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