Being both a bit lighter and slightly shorter-geared in its uppermost ratios than a typical diesel C-segment hatchback (and wanting for little on outright power or torque), the Clubman is a competitor here in the simplest of terms.

Even in lower-range diesel form, it set faster times when accelerating from rest to 60mph and 100mph than the 148bhp diesel examples of the Golf and Volvo V40 we’ve figured.

Steeper inclines test the flexibility of the Clubman’s 148bhp diesel engine, and it can be found wanting at higher revs

And, needing 12.0sec to get from 30-70mph in fourth gear, it set an equally competitive standard on real-world flexibility, being faster than the Volkswagen but slower than the Volvo.

Making a proper family hatchback, however, is about more than peppy speed. The way your all-purpose five-door delivers its speed is at least as important as how much of it is given up.

And it’s here, in the specifics of how it responds to your inputs, that Mini shows its inexperience in fulfilling such a brief.

Although it’s smooth enough and quiet during cruising, there’s a gruff edge to the 2.0-litre diesel’s vocal signature under load that you’d be unlikely to find in a fully fledged compact premium hatch.

The engine is reluctant to pull from very low revs, too, as well as uncharacteristically breathless for a BMW diesel over the final 20 percent of its operating range. And being paired to a manual ’box with some unnecessary notchiness in its shift doesn’t help it to feel particularly refined or sophisticated.

On rolling refinement, the Clubman conforms to standards similar to those that new Minis have hit for a decade or more, but unfortunately for Mini, those are standards that it needed to exceed this time around.

Run-flat tyres, short springs and stiff resonance pathways into the cabin make for plenty of noise filtering into the cabin over coarse surfaces, while those straight, upright A-pillars and large, round door mirrors produce plenty of noticeable wind rustle.

On both fronts, a premium supermini could be forgiven for transgression – particularly one with the dynamic joie de vivre of a Mini. But a compact-premium hatch is subject to tougher expectations.


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