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Goodbye. Farewell. Auf wiedersehen. Toorah, my love. To bid adieu to anyone or anything is often a sad experience, and that’s exactly how it felt to wave bye-bye to our Mini Cooper S Clubman.
After having been with us since before Christmas 2015, we finally relinquished our grip on the chubby steering wheel of our six-door Mini wagon recently.
The reactions from staff included:
- “No! I’m going to miss that little guy.”
- “Do we have to give it back?”
- “Best long-termer, ever.”
- “An inspired choice for a long loaner.”
- “Sad face.”
That last one was clearly one of our younger members, but yeah, you get the idea. Most of our long-term loan cars become part of the furniture, but the Mini felt more like a part of the family. It has been on shopping trips - plenty of shopping trips, actually - and has spent the night at a number of peoples' houses.
With its cheeky little 2.0-litre turbo engine with 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque and a smooth eight-speed automatic, it proved completely amenable to our needs. And I say 'our', because plenty of CarAdvice teamsters spent some time with the car.
One such driver was Jin Tee, our ad operations manager, who took the Clubman away to Kangaroo Valley for the Easter long weekend.
Some of his highlights included the “premium feel” of the Mini Clubman’s interior, including the “flicky switches that make it feel like you’re doing pre-flight checks before you take off”. He also thought the ambient lighting added some atmosphere, and the high-resolution display of the rear-view camera was another plus.
“We thought it’d be quite cramped in the back, but found it was quite reasonable – even on a two-hour drive I saw my friend napping the whole way, although he’s a not the biggest guy around.
“I had another friend who was dumbfounded by the puddle light. It was like a light to a fly,” he said of the Mini logo that shows on the ground, courtesy of a light under the side mirror.
“As a driver I found the heads up display with the navigation data quite handy. It felt like there was some actual thought put into the driving experience itself,” he said.
Like many of the CA crew, Jin found the split rear doors a bit annoying – they eat in to rearward vision, and the plastic on the doors was “prone to scuff marks”.
Jin said he was initially “a little daunted” by the Mini’s media interface “partly because there are so many options to play with and various ways to set it up”.
But he said that after spending a bit of time getting used to the system and calibrating the screen how he wanted – navigation on one half of the split-screen and music on the other – he felt “fluent with the controls”.
Jin – like the rest of us – appreciated the iDrive-style, BMW-inspired rotary dial controller between the seats. He thought it was “easily reachable, and less distracting that a touch screen control system”, while the “feel of a traditional button helped with click confirmation”.
As for the drive experience, Jin said he thought the engine offered “enough power in it to have fun”.
“You can climb through the gears and to not get yourself into too much trouble,” he said. “On top of that, I think the Cooper S badge is justified by the sounds it makes. The turbo flutter when you come off throttle, coupled with the exhaust crackles and pops on the over-run had me addicted to changing gears. Which probably resulted in quite a poor fuel mileage,” he said.
There was plenty of those changes to be had on the tight roads around Kangaroo Valley, and yes, Jin’s time in the car was a little thirsty. But to be fair, the Mini has been quite a drinker during its time with us, clearly based on who has been at the wheel and what sort of driving has been happening.
We’ve seen as little as 6.0 litres per 100km on a tank, and as high as 12.5L/100km. Jin’s tank was 12.3L/100km.
Even with that consumption in mind, when I asked Jin if he’d buy one, it was a fairly solid yes.
“If I was looking for a premium wagon with a sporty touch I would definitely consider it. At $42,900 (plus on-road costs) it stands out among the rest.
“I don’t know how it stacks up against other cars in terms of boot space, but it does feel it has much more character than some of the other options out there,” he said.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing over the car’s time with us. When we started it up to take it back, the windscreen washer fluid level warning light came on.
Seriously, that's the only issue we had in more than four months of driving the thing, and that was barely worth mentioning!
Still, Tony (in long-term report two) said he found that while the Clubman was a quirky take on a small wagon, he questioned whether it really deserved the Cooper S badge.
And maybe it isn’t worthy of that badge. Because it’s not quite the go-kart, chuckable little pocket rocket with an unforgiving ride that Cooper S models of years past have been. Instead, it’s a refined, semi-luxurious and very likeable runabout that just so happens to have a silly door layout.
On my final drive of the Mini – back to the brand’s depot in Southern Sydney – I couldn’t help but think that this is the most mature and enjoyable Mini Cooper S there ever has been. And that's definitely not a bad thing.
It’s still fast enough to have some fun, and it’s definitely involving to drive, all while being more premium inside and more practical to boot. And just like my colleagues, I’m going to miss it.
Mini Cooper S Clubman
Date acquired – December 2015
Odometer reading – 7500km
Travel since previous update – 2029km
Consumption since previous update – 11.2L/100km
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Christian Barbeitos.