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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
It's pretty hard to take exception to MINI's MK3 model Convertible. It delivers surprising space for passengers and luggage, a stylish roadway demeanour and a customisable fabric roof. This revised version has been usefully updated with fresh technology, smarter connectivity and an advanced dual-clutch automatic gearbox. As before, buyers can pick petrol, diesel and 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.
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.
Back in the late Fifties, the story goes that the engineers behind the original British Mini proposed to Austin company Chairman Leonard Lord that a faster version should be introduced with a 950cc engine and a top speed of 90mph. He declared it excessive, limiting production versions to a far more sensible 75mph. What on earth then, might he have made of this Countryman JCW model?
More importantly, what are buyers on the used market to make of it? It's not really a hot hatch or a small sporting SUV, though you could think of it as either. Better perhaps just to think of it as a bit of fun you could sensibly justify, a practical yet compact sporting family five-door backed by BMW standards of engineering
True, the John Cooper Works Countryman is never going to be the obvious answer to any 'which car?' question. It's just too niche a thing for that. Even so, we have a sneaking suspicion that this MINI might suit quite a significant number of used market people very well, assuming that they could be persuaded to consider it in the first place. It's very fast, brilliant fun, is nicely built, looks good, feels unique, swallows a small family and won't cost a fortune to run. If those don't sound like the ingredients for a very promising car, then we're not sure what does.
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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