THE latest Clubman has already made a name for itself as the most family-friendly MINI on the market and now it's getting an extra shot of practicality.
An all-wheel-drive set up is now available on the five seat estate version of Britain's favourite little car and it gives the Clubman plenty of versatility.
In poor conditions it has added grip while for everyday motoring the ALL4 system makes it more sure footed than its front wheel drive counterparts.
The ride is a little more fidgety than in the regular Clubman but it is a sensation that does not impact on the car's nifty handling.
Powered by a 190bhp 2.0-litre diesel the Cooper SD ALL4 Clubman is priced from £27,410 and the automatic model we tried cost from £28,975, including metallic paint and a posh looking leather and carbon black interior.
The diesel is available only with an eight speed steptronic auto - a transmission also fitted to the cheaper petrol engined Clubman Cooper S ALL4s priced from Â£25,985. Manual Cooper S models start from Â£24,305.
The bonus of the diesel powertrain is added economy and it's most effective with the auto box resulting in an official fuel return of 58.9mpg with emissions of 126g/km.
That's 14 miles to the gallon more than the petrol alternative and even under real world driving conditions you can expect to see it average more than 40mpg with ease.
However, the all wheel drive set up shaves a hefty 10mpg off the 68.9mpg MINI claims for the regular front-wheel-drive Clubman and that reduces the range of the ALL4 model by the best part of 200 miles.
Nevertheless it should still make almost 500 miles between fill ups and it is just as nippy to drive with a 0 to 60 acceleration of 7.2 seconds and a claimed maximum of 138mph.
The 4x4 system is fully automatic and operates unobtrusively switching power to the rear wheels as required in any of the MINI's three drive modes which range from sport to eco.
Ground clearance of five-and-a-half inches is the same as any other Clubman and while the ALL4 is marginally heavier, luggage capacity remains at a useful 360 litres, extending to a maximum of 1,250 litres with the rear seats folded.
The ALL4 configuration is bound to extend the Clubman's appeal in the mainstream family market and this one is the first four-wheel-drive model to be built at the MINI factory at Cowley in Oxford.
MINI's other four-wheel-drive offering, the pumped up Countryman, is built at a specialist facility in Austria.
Apart from ALL4 badges on the wings there are no obvious style changes such as meaty bodywork or protective cladding to denote its added abilities and the latest version of the Clubman is as smart as the rest of the line up.
The 4x4 system is designed not to make it an off-roader but a very capable all-rounder - and one with a modicum of 'soft-road' abilitly.
Based on the stretched five-door MINI which was introduced last year, the Clubman is a proper five seater and with its characteristic side-opening split tailgates - which can be operated remotely - it is much more user friendly than any other MINI and is the one that can genuinely cater for an average family's needs.
It's well equipped and this particular version came with full online connectivity to bolster the sat nav, a head up display, high definition reversing camera and a Harman Kardon hi-fi system among an array of options which took the final price up to Â£36,070.
As such, this is a premium offering in the compact to medium estate car zone but one which is very capable under all circumstances and still comes with all the lashings of fun that MINI has made its trademark.