Not since I was lucky enough to drive a Ferrari 512TR into the market square in Marrakech have I driven a car that provoked so much conversation from passers-by. Or fellow drivers in traffic jams, in fact; a bloke in a classic Mini got out of his car while I was queuing at traffic lights to ask me what I thought of the Clubman, before hopping back into his tiddler when the lights changed.
Last week I took Autocar’s new long-term Mini Clubman out on a photo shoot, and was accosted – in the friendliest way - by three mothers and a couple of guys from the local council, one of them already the owner of a Cooper S. After a thorough inspection, he said he’d be recommending a Clubman to a mate pondering a purchase. That might have been one sale; another came from one of the mothers, who asked if she could see the rear seat to check whether it would accommodate a baby chair. Satisfied that it could, she said she’d be asking her husband to order one. Lucky her. It's good to see that affordable cars can still provoke interest like this.
This reminds me of some words I read in this magazine years ago, about a fellow journalist who was one of the first to venture out in a Morris Minor Traveller (actually an ancient cousin of this Mini) and found that it prompted more interest than the Maserati the magazine had on test that week too. If affordable cars are exciting enough, they can trigger as much desire as (and possibly more than) any shiny new supercar.