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MINI Clubman Cooper D Review

MINI Clubman Cooper D

MINI Clubman Cooper D

MINI Clubman

Model/Engine size: Cooper D 1.6 litre

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 68.9 mpg

The MINI Clubman Cooper D surely has it all – great looks, fun to drive, excellent fuel economy, good performance, very low depreciation – and a valuable amount of added boot space over a regular MINI Hatch.

Although it’s not described as an estate, that’s what it is. And it’s even been designed in the style of the original Mini estate – which was somewhat confusingly called the Mini Traveller. That means the Clubman has two rear doors hinged at the outside that open outwards, rather than the typical modern solution of an upwards-opening hatchback.

Where the Clubman differs from the original is firstly the lack of wood, and the latest incarnation has one rear side door – just one – on the driver’s side of the car, called a ‘club’ door. It’s not a proper full-width door – it’s a sort of small size ‘suicide’-door type affair – in other words it opens the opposite way to the driver’s door, and it can only be opened when the driver’s door is open.

This door has sparked much debate. Many people see it as being on the wrong side of the car, especially for getting kids out of the rear onto the pavement safely. However, MINI owner BMW is adamant that the door was designed on this side of the car from the start – and it’s not because of left hand drive markets, and it’s not even because the fuel tank is on the left hand side of the car. They say they wanted to make an individual statement with just having one rear side door, and having it directly behind the driver’s door means that the driver can get out of the car and get his or her laptop or whatever else from immediately behind their seat. The fact that the rear seat belt is attached to the door, creating a real trip hazard when getting in or out, is perhaps the reason for its ‘suicide’ label.

Having just one rear door also threw up engineering challenges. Both the weight and the strength of the car had to be the same on both sides to ensure the handling and crash test results weren’t affected. And it seems that the BMW engineers have achieved this, even through one side of the bodyshell has a big hole cut in it, together with the extra weight of a door.

The Clubman is 24cm longer than the Hatch, giving 8cm more legroom for rear passengers, and the boot now offers 260 litres of space – 100 litres more than the Hatch – or up to 930 litres with the rear seats down. With the 50/50 split folding seats down, the rear load space is flat – as long as you specify the £125 option for the flat load boot floor. It comes with 5 seats as standard, although 2 rather than 3 rear seats can be specified as a no cost option.

All the extra weight only adds up to 85kg, and this isn’t enough to have any serious impact on the MINI driving experience. It feels slightly heavier in the lower powered versions, and it’s not quite as tight when negotiating roundabouts at high speed – but the differences between the Hatch and the Clubman are very marginal – both enjoy a wide track and low centre of gravity.

The Clubman is available in Cooper, Cooper S, and Cooper D models. The Cooper is the entry model to the Clubman range, and the Cooper S is the performance version. The Cooper D is the greenest of the range, returning an excellent 68.9mpg combined, with emissions of just 109g/km CO2 (compared to 104g/km CO2 for the Hatch). Being a diesel it’s noisier than the petrol versions, heavier, and not quite as responsive, but the excellent fuel consumption makes it all worthwhile.

From the front seats forward the car is identical to the hatch – which means you get an interior which will always bring a smile to your face – complete with its huge central speedometer – and SatNav can even be specified. The roof and door mirrors – and rear three quarter C pillars around the lights – come in contrasting silver or black.

It also comes with the range of fuel and emission saving measures including Auto Start-Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration and a Gearshift Point Indicator. And even better, the Cooper D comes with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). A six speed gearbox helps the economy.

Prices start at £15,405 for the Cooper D (the Clubman is £1200 more than the Hatch), however there is a huge options list ranging from different body colours and alloy wheels to SatNav, and you can easily inflate the price of your Clubman to around £20,000. But remember that at 109g/km CO2 you’ll be paying just £35 road tax per year.

There are currently no other cars that can combine such great styling, handling, performance and economy. Compared to other cars of this size, the MINI is expensive – however it’s one of the least depreciating cars around, so although you’ll pay more to buy it, you’ll also get more for it when you sell it.

To make it even more sustainable for buyers in the UK, it’s built in Oxford (part of the MINI production triangle, along with Hams Hall and Swindon).

So the verdict is that the more practical MINI Clubman Cooper D takes over from the Hatch Cooper D as our top recommended fun and sexy green car – it literally is in a class of its own.

Fuel economy extra urban: 78.5 mpg

Fuel economy urban: 57.6 mpg

CO2 emissions: 109 g/km

Green rating: VED band B – £35

Weight: 1250 Kg

Company car tax liability (2008/09): 13%

Price: £15,405 (From £14,245 to £17,220)

Insurance group: 8

Safety: NCAP TBC

Max speed: 120 mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

DPF: Yes