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Only MINI could have brought us a family hatchback like the Clubman. June Neary checks the second generation version out
Added 9th August, 2019
In recent years, MINI has re-invented its Clubman model as a Focus-sized family hatchback. And it makes a fun and practical choice in volume Cooper D diesel guise. Jonathan Crouch looks at the revised version.
We can all argue about whether this generation F56/F55-series Cooper S Hatch is as pretty a car as its predecessor, but there can be no doubt that it was a better all-rounder. It's more spacious, better built, features some fascinating technical features and seems to have been engineered to offer more driving fun on one hand and lower bills on the other.
Just make sure you get a car whose original owner specced it right, with extras like the Driving Modes system and the Variable damping. You might want to avoid examples fitted with larger wheels that bring a crashy ride and automatic gearboxes that detract from the connected feel.
Yes, you could pay the same kind of money and buy a more conventional supermini-based hot hatch. Perhaps the purer, more focused Fiesta ST. Or the more comfortable and relaxing Peugeot 208 GTI. This Cooper S though, arguably delivers an appealing compromise between the two - and feels much more special while it's doing it. It's a MINI to the max. And that's always a tempting thing.
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If you need a practical car from MINI and find the Hatch 5-Door model too small and the Countryman SUV too quirky, then the Clubman may be for you a perfect fit. It certainly makes its BMW 2 Series Active Tourer donor car look a little bland. True, the 2.0-litre engines further up the range aren't quite as efficient as those you'll find in rivals but MINI is close enough to the pace in this regard for that not to matter very much. This revised version gets some minor styling changes and some useful extra options.
It all means that if you want something compact but practical and a bit different, then this Clubman will probably suit. Either way, potential owners have to be people unafraid to fly in the face of convention. If that's you, then a bigger MINI adventure beckons.
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