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By Jonathan Crouch
Added 16th October, 2015
Not every commercial vehicle must justify itself in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. Here's one you might buy for other reasons. Because you like what it'll say about your business. Because you like what it'll say about you. Many will see in this MINI Clubvan just the right blend of fun and practicality. Yes, of course there are more sensible choices you could make in buying a used vehicle in the small van segment, but none of them will get your brand noticed in quite the same way. And how do you put a value on that?
Which means that if your need for a van really is merely limited to light urban duties, then this one might be just about perfect. Imagine a chic florist or an artisan baker who needs a stylish way of delivering lightweight goods while advertising their business in a way sure to appeal to those with a bit of disposable income and a sense of style. Exactly. Yes it's a pity about the restricted side door access. Otherwise though, provided your assessment of this model is based on what it actually sets out to offer, there's not a lot to gripe about. You don't need to be a vanatic to drive one.
So it is that this Clubvan neatly sidesteps so many of the demanding measures most place upon used commercial vehicles. All it needs to be is cool, fun to drive and reliable, with a modicum of carrying capacity - a MINI for the working week. Self employed with a small business? Your adventure awaits.
In one sense, it's extraordinary that it took the MINI brand so long to bring us this car. After all, over 70% of all sales in the small hatchback segment are of five-door models. In not offering a conventional MINI Hatch with that option, this franchise was missing out on a significant number of sales.
With the extra doors in place and this car in MINI's range, the company's position in the compact hatch sector has changed significantly. After all, in the eyes of many potential customers, the extra versatility of this variant will turn what was previously an un-buyable car into a really credible proposition.
You have to know what you're getting of course. Though the engine range can certainly offer the power and technology you'd get in the best Focus-sized family hatchbacks, the rear seat passenger room and boot space of this model can't quite match the best players in that segment. This MINI gets reasonably close though, priced and pitched to hit a tempting sweet spot between the supermini and family hatch sectors that will suit many buyers perfectly. For these kinds of people, the news that they can have one of these for less than the price of an ordinary Focus or Astra will be music to their ears.
That affordability's key given that high-ish pricing was one of the things that put some buyers off the MINI Countryman model that represented the brand's first stab at five-door motoring. Here though, the sticker figures seem to be right and have been matched with strong British build quality and this third generation Hatch design's classy, endearing feel. Best of all perhaps, the extra length of this variant has done nothing to dilute its fun factor. It's still a great choice for the young at heart.
Third time round, BMW's modern era MINI turned out to be a much more sophisticated thing. This three-door Hatch version is slightly more practical than its R56-series predecessor and feels considerably better built. It's far more efficient too, with the bulk of the range using a punchier range of eager three cylinder engines. And its more sophisticated underpinnings are better suited to longer journeys. In short, this car came of age in third generation form. But does it make sense as a used buy?
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Fresh technology, smarter connectivity and sharper looks are amongst the highlight changes made to this revised MINI 3-Door Hatch model. If you liked it before, you'll really like it now.
It's still a great hatch and the latest changes give it some legs to continue the success story. The prices look very reasonable at the moment, but to get the best from this car, you'll probably want to throw a few high-end options at it, so budget accordingly and take that into account when you're calculating your cost of ownership numbers. The MINI might have grown up but it doesn't look as if it's lost its sense of fun.
It's pretty hard to take exception to MINI's improved MK3 model Convertible. It delivers surprising space for passengers and luggage, a stylish roadway demeanour and a customisable fabric roof. This current version has been usefully updated in recent years with fresh technology, smart connectivity, standard-fit front and rear LED lights across the range, plus an advanced dual-clutch automatic gearbox. As before, buyers can pick three cylinder, four cylinder and JCW performance versions.
The styling of this revised MK3 model doesn't look all that different, but close inspection will reveal the addition of standard-fit LED front and rear lights, plus there's now extra scope for all-important personalisation. When the folded fabric roof is down, it forms a wrap-around collar around the back seats, rather than disappearing completely. It encroaches slightly into the boot area but despite this, the luggage capacity is these days a reasonably acceptable 215-litres with the roof closed and 160-litres with it folded down. The roof is customisable and retracts in 18 seconds.
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