Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Little 'Un Joins in the Party

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Little 'Un Joins in the Party

Article excerpt

Byline: John Scantlebury

ARRIVING just in time to join in the Mini 50th birthday celebrations, the new Clubman is the extended version of Britain's favourite little 'un, not exactly an estate but stretched enough to bring some practicality to the traditional fun.

In fact, it is more than 9in longer than the standard car, with just over 3in added to the wheelbase, an enormous relief to those sat at the back. In addition, the weekly shop can now be accommodated; the actual boot is 100 litres bigger, with some under-floor capacity, while folding down the rear seats hoists the volume up to a more-than-useful 930 litres.

The Mini for twosomes thus becomes a workable family car, with enough load length to get the pushchair in.

The familiar three-door also goes up to three and a half, with the introduction of a mini door aimed at assisting rear passengers access and exit, a nice enough idea but, for British drivers, it creates a problem.

You see, Mini, under BMW, has become primarily an international car and so the door has been situated on the right-hand side where those curious foreigners can use it to step from or on to the pavement.

The poor old Brits, on the other hand (side) will be stepping straight out into the path of traffic, and the odds are that they will be children; worse still, the door only functions when the front door is opened, so that's two doors hanging out to dry.

Squeezing past the front passenger seat is still the best option.

I can't say I'm sold on the two van-like rear doors, either. They are promoted as smart and funky and, yes, they spring open quite nicely to allow easy loading, but I don't see the gain over a single hinged door.

You now have to have two wipers, while the central join poses a rear-visibility problem for the driver.

The doors oddities apart, however, the Clubman is a very likeable little car, with that typical Mini driveability being generated via a steering and suspension set-up from the sporty Cooper versions. …

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