Road Test: MINI Clubman One D
The Clubman’s core fleet model is an unexpected star of the range, says Alex Grant.
SECTOR Lower Medium PRICE £21,375–£22,870 FUEL 72.4–74.3mpg CO2 99–104g/km
Extending a brand traditionally defined by a single model is no easy task and, a few years ago, MINI could have been accused of over-niching itself with its two-seaters, small estates and coupe-crossovers. But not any more.
Focusing on models the market expects and demands, its slimmer model range recorded a 44% increase in corporate sales last year, helped by a Clubman which can now target the growing premium C-segment instead of aiming for the niche compact estate sector.
The One D fills a big gap in that offering. It’s the first sub-100g/km Clubman and puts MINI up against the fleet-weighted 1.5 and 1.6-litre diesels used in its key rivals; the A3, 1 Series and A-Class. It gets essentials such as navigation, cruise control and MINI Connected as standard, and it’s competitively priced even with the £2,785 Chili pack over half of UK buyers opt for.
MINI has always excelled at desirable low-spec models and the One D is no exception. Its 1.5-litre diesel engine produces a modest 115bhp, but feels almost as quick as the Cooper D’s 2.0-litre and keener to rev. Short gear throws, weighty steering and small car agility add up to a more entertaining drive than its rivals.
Despite its cheeky, if slightly awkward from some angles, styling, the Clubman also does the sensible stuff very well. There’s a surprisingly large cabin, a competitive boot, low road and wind noise and far more settled ride quality than the smaller MINI hatch. The only form-over-function drawback is the side-hinged split tailgate doors, which need more space to open than a conventional hatch and compromise rear visibility too.
Granted, the Clubman will sell more for its emotional appeal than its functionality, but with an attractive entry-level option, MINI has a car which makes a case for both head and heart.