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CLUB CLASS (some text hidden)
By Car & Driving
With this second generation Clubman model, the British-based MINI brand sets its sights on premium hatchbacks like the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3. Jonathan Crouch drives one.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 66
The first modern-era MINI Clubman was launched in 2007 as the first truly practical MINI - but came with one key drawback: you couldn't have two rear passenger doors. This second generation model not only corrects that oversight but is also smarter, better equipped, higher-tech and more efficient. But can it set itself apart from the Hatch 5-Door and Countryman models in MINI's range? Let's see.
Backgroundword count: 206
It's hard to think of a modernday motoring success story to rival that of BMW's MINI. The Bavarians took the 60s design concept, super-sized it and made it the ultimate automotive fashion accessory for the early years of the 21st Century. But the car's cheeky compact size was both its greatest draw and its only real limiting factor. If the same design could be produced with a dash more practicality, couldn't many more customers be persuaded to join the great MINI Adventure? The prospect was tempting, but the problem for the German designers was in creating a truly versatile family car that kept the original three-door model's essential MINI-ness. They'd already watched rivals Mercedes struggle - and fail - to develop the smart brand in the same way. What they eventually came up with in 2007 was this model, the MINI Clubman, an estate car, but not as we knew it. Curious, quirky and thoroughly individualistic, it was a perfect fit for a brand that has always been all those things. Nine years later, we got that car's successor, this MK2 model Clubman. With five proper doors this time round, a smarter look, extra space and all the MINI brand's latest technology, it's an intriguing prospect.
Driving Experienceword count: 160
So what's it like on the road? A little different from the MINI norm is the answer - but thankfully, not too different. No, it doesn't feel quite as sharp and frisky as the 5 Door Hatch model to drive, but then this is a larger, heavier car. Anyway, compensation comes with better refinement and far superior ride quality thanks to a purpose-designed multi-link rear suspension system. If you want to tweak the damping, an optional 'Variable Damper Control' control system allows you to do it, working through the 'Green', 'MID' and 'Sport' settings of the 'MINI Driving Modes' system, another extra-cost feature. There's a familiar range of petrol engines under the bonnet. There's a three cylinder 1.5-litre unit with 136hp in the 'Cooper' version, while the Cooper S gets a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine with 178hp. That 2.0-litre powerplant has 306hp in the John Cooper Works version. Standard with all the engines is a 7-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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