With family split between London, Yorkshire and Scotland, a great deal of my time tends to be spent behind the wheel.
So when it was time to divvy up long-term test cars among the road test team, I was secretly hoping to secure something fun, frugal and spacious, requirements that were largely met by our Mini Clubman.
The first challenge on the Mini’s schedule was a 470-mile jaunt to Glasgow. The 2.0-litre diesel engine provided impressive roll-on performance, the optional sports seats gave generous support and the navigation system (also optional) displayed clear and reliable instructions.
The only real complaint came at higher speeds, where wind noise increased to a conversation-disturbing blast – no doubt a result of the Mini’s steep windscreen.
Surprisingly, where the Clubman felt less at home was back on the demanding country roads of East Yorkshire. Although Mini claims that the Clubman has been tuned for “maximum go-kart sporty feel”, the combination of its soft suspension and the overly quick steering rack results in a car that feels unstable and rather out of tune with itself through quick direction changes – a characteristic that I simply failed to get accustomed to.
Not all was lost, though. My bank balance was grateful for the Clubman’s impressive 52mpg (averaged over 1500 miles) and the split tailgate made loading and unloading my sister’s wheelchair a relative breeze. If the Clubman sported more cohesive dynamics, Mini would have a genuinely exciting alternative to a mainstream estate on its hands.
MINI CLUBMAN COOPER D
Price £21,810 Price as tested £29,925 Economy 52.0mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 30.11.16