I've just spent a weekend in a Mini Cooper S Clubman. It was a hoot for all the usual Mini reasons and had the novelty of auto start-stop, which is amazingly effective and unobtrusive and should be standard on everything.

But the whole time I was driving it I was trying to figure out why it seemed so unrefined and skittish compared with any Mini hatch I'd ever driven. An annoying amount of rumble was coming from somewhere up front, and it torque-steered quite noticeably;­ not something the hatch ever suffered.

I blamed this odd behaviour on the fact that it had the optional LSD fitted, until it transpired that, in fact, it didn't. Maybe the Clubman needs the LSD; maybe it's just not as refined as the Seat Leon Cupra I usually drive. Either way, I was a little disappointed.

That vertically split tailgate is novel, too. The side-hinged doors are beautifully engineered but absolutely tiny; when opening and closing them, I felt like someone had given me a blender for Christmas and I was in the act of cracking open the box.