What is it?
Here we have the facelifted version of Mini's quirky, barn-doored Volkswagen Golf rival, the Clubman. We’ve already driven the extremely rapid John Cooper Works model, so now it’s the turn of the cooking Cooper.
The changes lower down the model range are more modest, focused on sharpening the car's showroom appeal with some well-chosen cosmetic tweaks inside and out, plus some extra equipment and some choice options.
Even so, you’ll have to be a keen Clubman fan to notice the changes here, which include a larger and more cohesive one-piece grille, reprofiled bumpers, subtly tweaked door mirrors, LED foglights complete with distinctive halo running light surrounds and the natty Union Flag LED tail-lights. That’s about it, apart from some new paint colours and new alloy wheel designs; our Exclusive test car - there are also Classic and Sport trims - was fitted with some rather attractive 18in rims.
Overall, the Clubman is still a slightly blobby and awkward shape, but it looks classier and more resolved in this standard guise than as the slightly try-hard JCW.
Inside, it’s pretty much as before. There are some new trim materials and the option of more chest-beating Union Flaggery, this time stitched into the headrests, but it will be familiar in all other respects to owners of the older car. On the plus side, that means it all looks rather good and the sense of solidity and quality is hard to fault.
And while the Clubman isn't the most spacious family hatchback, there’s enough room for most and those novel tailgate doors open to reveal a fairly useful 360-litre boot.
Of course, the ability to personalise your Clubman is seemingly endless, so it’s no surprise to find there are now a few more options. Not only are there the aforementioned wheels and paints but also a number of exotic leather trim finishes, plus adaptive matrix LED headlights are now available for the first time. As ever, it’s possible to get extremely carried away; our seemingly lightly optioned car's list price had ballooned from £24,850 to nearly £35,000. Yikes.
Under the skin, the Clubman is largely unchanged, with the Cooper essentially getting the same 134bhp turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine as before. As standard, this drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, but our car had the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.