Latest Clubman goes

to top of class

MINI Clubman Cooper S 2015, nose
MINI Clubman, front action
MINI Clubman, side action
MINI Clubman, rear action
MINI Clubman, dashboard
MINI Clubman, boot

THE latest MINI Clubman is more practical than ever and has room for four adults to travel in comfort.

But all this pales into the background when you drive it. This is the best driver's car in the class by a wide margin.

It's one of those rare cars that seems to do everything as an extension of the driver's thought - almost as if it's a part of him.

I drove the Cooper 1.5 petrol, a three cylinder turbo that delivers plenty of smooth power for great performance and real economy of 44mpg.

It's immensely enjoyable whenever you have an open road in front of you - and many times when you're stuck in traffic.

But with just 136bhp on tap, it's not as quick as you might expect. For out and out power you have to move up to the 2.0-litre ‘S'.

For me however, this one does perfectly. It will reach 60 miles an hour in second gear and the power delivery is beautifully linear. Overtaking is easy given enough of a gap and the engine is smooth and tuneful all the way to the red line.

It pulls just as hard when you change up earlier, because the turbo power is available from decently low revs.

The clutch is light and the gearchange absolutely perfect, but the clutch does have to go down a long way to start the car and this is annoying because I had to have the seat further forward than I like just for that.

The road holding and handling are sublime - as with all MINIs and this one is pure joy to drive quickly, while at the same time remaining very safe.

It clings like a limpet no-matter how hard you push it and the steering feel is absolutely perfect.

But what sets it apart is the fact that it also has an excellent ride and the combination of all these plus points puts it right at the top of the class.

Build quality is quite obvious throughout but it's still not a real estate, with a fairly small boot if all the seats are in position.

There's excellent support from the seats and very good rear legroom, helped by a longer wheelbase.

MINI callS it a six door, because it still has twin side opening rear doors like the original Mini countryman. The four passenger doors open wide and make access very easy.

The BMW i-Drive system takes care of stereo, sat nav and phone, with a big screen in the centre of the dash.

Equipment in this lowly model includes keyless entry and starting, stability control, split fold rear seats, height and reach adjust column, height adjust front seats, aircon and sat nav.

FAST FACTS

Price: £20,105

Mechanical: 134bhp, 1,499cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.1 seconds.

Combined MPG: 55

Insurance Group: 17

C02 emissions: 118g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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