2018 Mini Clubman Review

This Mini is a Maxi… add ‘mum’ to the end of that, and you’ve got family-friendly Mini

By Shahzad Sheikh

Click below now to watch my Mini Clubman Review video

The second generation Mini Clubman has been around a while now, since 2015 in fact, but we never really got around to reviewing it. So over the summer in the UK we borrowed a press car to try out, complete with 2018 updates. At the time of its launch this was the biggest Mini ever, though the latest 2017, second generation, Countryman is fractionally longer and wider and of course taller.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

Let’s go back and reminisce about the first Clubman though, which ran from 2007-2014. Whilst some magazines may have been a little unkind to it, I actually loved it. I was and am a big fan of the modern era Mini hatchbacks (as well as the classic originals, though they are very much cars of their time). The Clubman then was simply a slightly extended hatchback with a bit more luggage space and an extra door – yes one-door, singular – squeezed into one side of the car.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

Now that extra door may have been lambasted for being a suicide style door that couldn’t open on its own – you needed to first open the front door (just as in a Toyota FJ Cruiser for example), but I felt it was quirky and characterful and lent the car a unique identity and charm.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

Then there was the handling. Minis are known for their tight, nippy and very agile front end response. But the Clubman, having thrown some extra mass behind rear wheels, which were usually set right in the corners of a hatchback, was a little more lively, with a hint of potential oversteery tendencies on call if exuberance got the better of you. And it would.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

Anyway, that old car is a bargain now, and well worth picking up used. But here’s the new Clubman. It may have got rid of the whimsical door arrangement in favour of a more traditional four-door design, but it hasn’t entirely had a humour bypass as it retains the barn-door tailgate opening, complete with the centre pillar that obstructs your rear view through the central mirror.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

It’s still recognisably a Mini, though clearly a stretched and widened example, and on the inside it’s got all the usual signature idiosyncrasies including the instrument pod nesting on the steering wheel column, the massive round centre display, toggles for switches and oval design motifs everywhere.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

The infotainment system lights up in all sorts of elaborate manners for when you’re using the climate, the stereo, the drivers’ modes and you can spend hours sitting in your drive playing with all the functions and features of the system itself – including setting up driver profiles so it knows just what you want from it.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

We’ll get automatics but this was a manual, and whilst it remains a hoot, the long-gearing took some of the edge off it and made it more of a tourer than a racer. But it was easy to use and not at all taxing. Multiply that 10-fold again for the auto.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

There’s plentiful performance and the ride is properly grown-up and geared for comfort rather than pinning you against the side windows on even the mildest of corners. Admittedly it’s not as sharp and let’s say ‘Mini-like’ as the hatchback versions are, and certainly not as playful as the previous Clubman, but it seems that customer clinics have told them that Mini owners that have kids want an easier drive and loads of rear space.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

That they do get, because I can reasonably comfortably sit behind myself in this car despite being on the tall side, and when it comes to the cavernous boot, it’s big and then it’s even bigger as you lift the floor and discover even more space.

2018 Mini Clubman Review

This new Clubman is clearly aimed as Mini owners who have got married and started sprouting  and need a bigger vehicle, but aren’t ready to abandon their favourite fun automotive brand, nor are quite willing to go the faux SUV route. Tied to that brief this new Clubman makes sense.

And whilst I liked it a lot and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, if I was getting a new Mini, I’d still go with the hatchback, even the four-door version if you need the extra openings, or a first gen Clubman if I was picking up a pre-owned example.

 

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