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Mini One Clubman review: One for the show
IF YOU'RE looking for a Mini, you usually start at One. "One" refers to the entry-level versions of the brand's current cars, and for the first time the Mini Clubman wagon is now offered as a One.
That means less power and fewer amenities than you get with a Cooper Clubman, but a smaller price tag. On the face of it, that's a good thing for the brand, since this is a formula that has allowed the Mini One hatch to become its best-selling model by far.
The approach seems to work well for the Clubman, too. On paper, the One Clubman has the pace of a typical Japanese family sedan, with a modest 102hp from its 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. But the turbocharged engine has an ear-tickling soundtrack and decent torque. There's enough pep here to give the car rabbit-like acceleration, at least at city speeds since out on the highway the lack of more power is noticeable.
Most drivers won't notice, since it's perfectly paced for day-to-day driving, and in any case one of the key draws of the Mini experience is still very present: Agility.
The Clubman is longer and larger than the Mini hatchback, so it's not quite as darty, but it is still very much a Mini from behind the wheel. That means going around bends is a welcome thing, and pushing the car hard results in delightful chirps and squeals that make other brands seem sedate.
Mini's now signature interior, made up of circles everywhere and uniquely chunky switchgear, is present and accounted for in the One Clubman, along with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. But the Clubman's appeal lies more in how much space it offers. The extra length means you can bring three friends along in comfort (four with negotiation).
It also means the 360-litre boot is big, at least by Mini standards, and the rear barn-style doors make loading easy. You might still have to pay for delivery at Ikea if you bought say, a wardrobe, but a modestly sized bookcase would certainly fit, thanks to the folding rear seats.
For all that, there is serious competition for the Mini One Clubman, and it's the Mini Cooper Clubman. It's only S$6,000 more expensive, whereas the same upgrade from a Mini hatchback costs S$20,000.
Jumping from the One to the Cooper gives you 136 horsepower, and the extra power goes a long way towards turning the Clubman into a spunky car to drive. For many, that is the whole point of owning a Mini.
But by the same token, it's easy to imagine someone settling for the One Clubman more for the combination of size and style than anything else, which obviates the need to make the S$6,000 leap to a Cooper.
That makes the One Clubman a workable way for Mini to tempt buyers into its world, and maybe stay there if they like what they see. Either way, Mini is hoping that you'll see no reason to stop at One.
Mini One Clubman
Engine 1,499cc, in-line 3, turbocharged
Power 102hp at 3,900-5,500rpm
Torque 190Nm at 1,380-3,600rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h 11.6 seconds
Top Speed 185km/h
Fuel Efficiency 6.0L/100km
Agent Eurokars Mini
Price S$143,888 with COE