Mini Clubman review: A classic stretched Mini for grownups. But is it worth it? | autos | Hindustan Times
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Mini Clubman review: A classic stretched Mini for grownups. But is it worth it?

The Mini Clubman measures 4,253mm in length, making it the longest Mini to ever hit our shores. It’s built to attract an older customer, stretched for a cosy drive for those seeking to travel with a family.

autos Updated: Apr 17, 2017 13:42 IST
Sergius Barretto
The stretched Mini retains the funky retro styling and the fun-to-drive engineering. The stretched Clubman however offers more room while not remaining mini really.
The stretched Mini retains the funky retro styling and the fun-to-drive engineering. The stretched Clubman however offers more room while not remaining mini really.(AutocarIndia photo)

With each passing generation, cars from the iconic Mini brand have been progressively growing bigger. The Clubman, its latest offering for India, measures 4,253mm in length, making it the longest Mini to ever hit our shores. Furthermore, with a width of 1,800mm, it’s wider than sedans like the Toyota Corolla Altis. So mini it is not, but is it a Mini?

The design is typically Mini – funky with all the retro cues from its stable mates, but, of course, the added length is obvious. It’s a design you could either hate because it strays away from the original Mini concept, or love for how it’s manages to keep its form so close to the Mini style.

The familiar bug-eyed, chrome-laden front-end is complemented by the chrome on the sides with the lower window sill, door handles and the turn indicator all featuring chrome trappings. The rear holds the highlight of the Clubman which is the split two-door boot design, popularly referred to as ‘barn doors’. This technically makes the Clubman a six-door.

The rear doors is split into two, popularly called barn doors. (AutocarIndia photo)

Like the exterior, the interior is familiar too thanks to the large, circular 8.8-inch central display, the round multifunction steering wheel, the oval gear knob, the cool toggle switches on the dash and roof panel for the light and sunroof controls. The central screen forms the display for the music, phone, navigation and the car’s various settings like the drive modes. The touchscreen is very responsive, though some of the on-screen buttons are inconveniently tiny to operate on the move. There are, however, hard buttons for select functions and a very handy (but optional) central controller knob which makes the infotainment system easier to operate.

On the safety front, the Clubman has front-, side- and curtain-airbags, and all seats get 3-point belts. Active safety features include ABS with cornering brake control and dynamic stability control.

A narrow and slightly raised seat base for the middle passenger makes the rear bench of Clubman best suited for two. (AutocarIndia photo)

This Mini may be one of the largest ones, but that doesn’t translate to outstanding interior room. It isn’t cramped though. I would rather describe the cabin as cosy. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and feature an extendable lower thigh support. While Mini claims the rear can comfortably seat five, the middle passenger has a narrow and slightly raised seat base to contend with, which makes the rear bench best suited for two. Legroom isn’t amazing but the scooped-out rear seatbacks create enough knee room for average-sized adults.

Given the size of the interiors, storage space is more than adequate. There’s a decent-sized glovebox, lots of cubby holes, door pockets that can hold 1-litre bottles, rear door storage pockets and a 360-litre boot that can be extended via the flip-down rear back seats. Shod with run flat tyres, the Clubman gets no spare wheel, which frees up the large underfloor storage area in the boot for more cargo.

The barn doors wide open give enough room and convenience to stuff things in the boot. (AutocarIndia photo)

For a car that’s built to attract an older customer, one seeking to travel with a family, eager road manners isn’t going to work. Knowing this, Mini has given the Clubman a revised steering and suspension setup that makes for a relatively less keen steering and more pliable ride. But make no mistake, the Clubman still delivers a fun driving experience, like a Mini should. The car corners without rolling around much, just that you feel the extra weight and length out back, especially during rapid lane changes. Compared to the Mini hatch, the suspension does a surprisingly good job of soaking up our bad road, but it generates a lot of rumble going about it. Larger potholes also bring out a loud thud from the suspension and it makes you wince in anticipation of rim damage. The low profile tyres have an extended rim protector but with our bad roads, I wouldn’t advise pushing the car or your luck through potholes.

The cuteness of the Mini by virtue of its size is lost in this stretched version. (AutocarIndia photo)

The Clubman comes with a petrol engine mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox that’s quick to shift and also has a launch control function. The 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine makes a healthy 192hp and 280 Nm of pulling power from a low 1,250 rpm, which makes the Mini very drivable and rather responsive from the get go. Not only is the Clubman quick off the line, the motor catches a second wind at about 2300 rpm and pulls even harder from thereon in a firm and linear manner. The car comes with three driving modes which alter the engine responsiveness, steering response and the shift speeds of the gearbox when the Steptronic-Sport is fitted. Sport mode is very lively and brings out the Mini’s best driving character. For everyday driving, the mid setting is good enough, but you will miss the lovely blat-blat sound-track from the exhaust here. In the Green mode, the car isn’t lethargic but the throttle feels too heavy and un- Mini like. The Steptronic box also has a coasting function that decouples the engine and gearbox to maximise fuel-efficiency; this activates when the throttle is released at speeds between 50kph and 160kph.

Mini Clubman factfile
  • Engine 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
  • Power 192hp @ 5000rpm
  • Torque 280Nm @ 1250rpm
  • Gearbox Eight-speed automatic
  • Price Rs 38.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

If the Clubman finds its way to your shortlist, it’s pretty obvious that you crave standout style and maximum fun but still need practicality and comfort. The Mini does this in spades. But at Rs 38.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is pricey, and with a fairly light ‘standard’ list, you could end up spending a lot on the optional equipment. For far lesser, you could have a premium hatchback like the Mercedes A-class or the Volvo V40 that look fairly unique and are loaded with features. However, they do fall short on the ‘fun’ aspect. Then there is also the similarly priced A3 Cabriolet with great standout value but it’s hardly practical. But the overriding reason to buy the Clubman would be its ‘Mini’ charm. The styling is funky, it’s simply brilliant to drive and, on the whole, steps away from the norm: a true Mini indeed.

(In arrangement with AutocarIndia)