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Mini Clubman 2010 review

If you've dreamed of buying an old classic, doing it up and driving it around BMW has invented the car for you. While old cars have plenty of style and a great feel about them they are encumbered with brakes, safety gear, comfort and engines from another period and most of it is not good.

BMW though did the next best thing and reinvented an old classic, the Mini. And they did it well. The new Mini has much of the feel of the old car with its round headlights, large dials and retro styling but importantly is bigger, safer, more powerful and more comfortable than the old one could ever be.

The Mini has been the stand out success of the retro motor movement leaving the re-made VW Beetle in its wake and proving more versatile than the little re-born Fiat 500. But then Mini invented the Clubman.

While it has been around for a while I revisited it again last week in readiness for the arrival of the next generation Mini, the AWD Countryman which is due here early next year. The Clubman offers much more space, including useable rear seats, than the standard Minis and the Convertible droptop. But the Clubman is a bit of a mix and match job with both seriously good and somewhat ordinary features.

Value

People don't buy Minis for value. At $45,550 there are plenty of larger, more practical and sportier cars you can buy and have change in your pocket. But very few of them can offer the fun and the big wide grin on the driver's face from being the centre of attention that comes from driving a Mini. The range does start $9000 cheaper with the Cooper but the Cooper S offers much more power and fun.

Technology 

The 1.6-litre in-line four cylinder engine is a cracker. With 128kW of power and 240Nm of torque it is well suited to city traffic with its spritely acceleration and lively manners. The manual gearbox is a delight with its slick shifting but the reverse gear is a little awkward to get used to. The manual is also more fuel efficient than the auto by a not insignifcant 2L/100km. It reaches 100km/h from a standing start in 7.6 seconds.

Design

There's no getting away from it, while the standard Mini is accepted as a great looking machine people are far more divided over the longer Clubman. The real problem is the silly third door. The fact that is placed on the driver's side and therefore opens onto the traffic side means it is going to be a risk to open at times which limits its use. Though when open it does make accessing the rear much easier.

The cute rear doors, copying the styling of the original little Mini wagon are easy to open. One pops open with the press of the key fob button while the other opens by a more conventional handle. The doors open wide to provide easy loading access. There's not a great deal of space (260-litres) but if you fold the rear seats down there's plenty of room (930-litres) for the shopping, a pram or more likely for Mini owners, a folded down bike or two.

Safety

One thing you do get for your nearly-$50,000 is a car packed with safety features. There's everything from six airbags to stability control, brake assist driving and electronic brakeforce distribution. The car also has one of the best hillstart assistance packages I've tested to ensure it doesn't roll backwards when starting on a slope. Handbrake starts are virtually unecessary.

Driving

Looks are everything with this car, whether its behind the wheel in the retro cockpit or its outside where the stand-out Mini front wins praise. With the Clubman though the back, while quite square, splits opinion. The driver's seat is adjusted manually, which while suiting the retro-feel, is a bit cheap in a nearly-$50,000 car.

On the road the Mini is a handy device, you whip through the gears with ease though getting into reverse is a bit clunky. It accelerates from a standing start smoothly and is a happy highway cruiser. Rear vision through the two club doors is a big improvement over the normal Mini and the Convertible.

The test car came with a sunroof that opens slightly but it tends to make the road noise louder so it will probably be of limited use.

Verdict

Pricing and the unique styling will not be to every motorist's liking but for those who do the Clubman is far more practical and useful than the smaller Minis. Now we await the arrival of the Countryman.

Pricing Guides

$13,530
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$8,690
Highest Price
$18,370

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Cooper 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,240 – 13,090 2010 Mini Clubman 2010 Cooper Pricing and Specs
Cooper Chilli 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $10,010 – 13,640 2010 Mini Clubman 2010 Cooper Chilli Pricing and Specs
Cooper S 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,100 – 16,170 2010 Mini Clubman 2010 Cooper S Pricing and Specs
Cooper S Chilli 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,890 – 14,850 2010 Mini Clubman 2010 Cooper S Chilli Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$13,500

Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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