The Clubman is the latest incarnation of Mini which harks back to the spirit of the original. By raiding the history books BMW has hit on some successful and some not so successful ideas. The split rear doors are a visual link with the past but they obscure rear visibility, whilst the central speedometer is retro but impractical.
However the most controversial addition is a single ‘suicide’ door for access to the back. The ‘Clubdoor’ is only found on the right hand side which means that it opens into the road in the UK. In addition it is very small and the seat belt is attached to it so it doesn’t make getting in or out easy enough.
These issues aside, the Clubman shares the great attributes of the hatch. Most of the extra length has been added between the wheels which means that extra bodywork behind the rear wheels is kept to a minimum. This contributes to it being nearly as good to drive as the hatch, which for an estate makes it very special indeed.
Even after the stretch the Mini Clubman remains a compact car. This inevitably results in limited load space. With the rear seats in place it has just 260 litres of boot space which is less than some supermini hatchbacks. However, it is 100 litres more than the Mini hatch which is a useful addition.
The secret of the Clubman’s great fuel consumption is BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology. There is a feeling that design took priority over practicality with this car but it remains very trendy and allows Mini owners to take their dogs with them. It may not be a real estate, and it has drawbacks, but we still think there will be lots of takers.