Described by the BMW Group-owned brand as a six-door wagon, the Clubman model offers more space and extra practicality missing from the Mini three-door hatchback.
The Clubman is offered in base Cooper and spicier Cooper S guise, and in early 2017, Mini added the John Cooper Works (JCW) performance flagship.
The Clubman JCW is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivering 170kW of power and 350Nm of torque. Power to each corner comes from Mini’s All4 system paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Clubman JCW is priced from $56,900 plus on-road costs, which is $11,000 more expensive than the highly capable 141kW/280Nm Clubman Cooper S.
Aside from other variants within its own JCW model range, the Clubman has few direct competitors. Audi’s 170kW/370Nm S1 hot hatch is probably the most likely contender, but an all-new version of the car it’s based on, the A1 light hatch, is due for launch mid-year.
At first glance, the interior of the Clubman − or, indeed, any ‘new’ Mini − can seem gimmicky. It has the circular central display housing the 8.8-inch touchscreen that harks back to the massive circular speedos from Minis of old, and the old-school switches are reminiscent of an aeroplane cockpit.
The Clubman has a surprising amount of interior space, with loads of head and leg room up front and more than you’d expect in the rear. We could sit comfortably in the rear seat behind a driving position selected to suit a six-foot frame.
It’s technically a five-seater − but for comfort’s sake, it’s probably better suited to four adult occupants. Rear passengers also benefit from second-row air-conditioning vents. The seats up front are firm but still comfortable and supportive, which is essential in a car that loves cornering as much as this one does.
The head-up display is projected onto a plastic screen rising out of the instrument binnacle, which is a bit old-school. They are now mostly projected directly onto the windscreen.