Mini Clubman Cooper S All 4 review – ‘For the would-be BMW owner’

Mini Clubman Cooper S All 4 Mini Clubman Cooper S All 4: ‘However much they go on about its go-kart feel, that’s not how it feels.’

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People talk about “iconic styling” and I’ve finally worked out what it means: a car that looks like itself, and no other car, and has done for a long time. It must wax and wane, from compliment to insult, the way the popularity of a thing will when it makes not-changing its USP

. Certainly, the Mini Clubman has its signature snout, but there is no way to adjudicate on whether it’s chic or twee: that would depend on your mood. The most distinctive of all the Clubman’s idiosyncrasies is that back end, with the barn door-style opening. It’s cute, like a wendy house made of car, but it is the devil to park. There you are, imagining yourself in a miniature vehicle, yet you can’t get into a space you’d have had a shot at in a Passat. And the boot is quite high, so it’s not the easiest fit for anything heavy or bulky.

It has the heft and width of a BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, because that’s essentially what it is: some theorise that it’s an entry-level beemer, in a cunning disguise, from a firm that doesn’t want to diminish the big-boy brand with an affordable way in. The evidence against this theory is that it’s not actually much cheaper, and I prefer the notion that it’s for a would-be BMW owner who doesn’t yet want to grow up.
It has a number of features that are intoxicating to children: as you click it open at night, it projects a torch-lit logo of itself on to the pavement (you have to crawl over its handles looking for the source, if you’re interested, that is). And all the details, the knobs, the fonts on the screen, the handles, the binnacles, everything about the cabin feels top end but wilfully cute, as though a super-talented designer were trying to please a millionaire’s 12-year-old. This equipoise – between a family-sized vehicle on the one hand and trying to please a quixotic pre-teen on the other – is also perceptible in the drive: however much they go on about its go-kart feel, that’s not how it feels. It goes like anything, but doesn’t have that sense of mischief. It’s too heavy, too long, too stately, too responsible. It feels as if you’ve been plonked on a go-kart track in a regular car, and the world is watching, waiting for you to do something exciting, which you’re just not going to.
I’m saying this into thin air, I know – a Clubman fancier wouldn’t care about such details, and everybody else wouldn’t be looking – but if you’re a Mini-agnostic (as in not a true believer; we all accept that Minis exist, obviously), there is quite a bit to overcome.

Mini Clubman Cooper S All 4: in numbers

Mini Clubman interior

Price £29,625
Top speed 142mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 38.2mpg
CO2 emissions 168g/km
Eco rating 6/10
Cool rating 7/10

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