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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.
When it comes to affordable open-topped sportscars that drive well and are usable every day, the used market isn't exactly swollen with talent. There's the evergreen Mazda MX-5, but beyond that, you'll need to step up to much pricier cars like the Audi TT Roadster. Slotting in between these two was an open goal that this MINI was never going to miss.
A little more extreme than an MX-5. A little easier to own - and much more affordable - than a Lotus Elise, this MINI Roadster was extremely carefully targeted, with a very different appeal to any of the brand's previous soft-top models. Buying one will be an unashamed indulgence, as the purchase of any sportscar should be, the beginning of a driving experience that promises fun without too many hard core compromises. It's the MINI method of sportscar ownership. And you can see why many in this market are going to like it.
The MINI take on battery-powered motoring certainly has its appeal. Jonathan Crouch checks out the MINI Electric.
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.
One journalist we read of described this Paceman as 'the perfect car for someone else' - and we kind of understand what he means. It wouldn't necessarily suit us, but we know a lot of other people who'd simply love it. MINI calls this a 'Sports Activity Vehicle', whatever that means: we'd simply call it a 'cute-ute', a crossover with a bit of sporting attitude. A larger MINI that can also let its hair down a bit.
According to its marketeers, this isn't a car defined by age or gender - which is probably right. It's as likely to be driven by an upwardly mobile thirty-something man as it is by a retiree or a lady who lunches. Yet another reason why this car is so difficult to pigeonhole. But then, that's probably part of its charm.
What we do know is that this Paceman, the MINI Countryman's younger, sportier coupe cousin, offers something refreshingly different, part Crossover, part hot hatch. And it's perfectly pitched to satisfy those who want a sporty MINI with extra space and style. Just as it was intended to.
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.
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