The MINI World Comes to an End

Today marks the end of an era. The Mayan’s knew this. Their calendar ends today. And so does the life with Our MINI Clubman Diesel. Later today I will return our beloved Clubman at the local dealership. The lease has ended and it will not be renewed. No new or other MINI will follow. That’s it. It feels awkward already.

I have driven a MINI now for over 8 years. First a Cooper S, then our Clubman Diesel for the last three years. And I enjoyed every minute in those cars. It was part of who I am. Thanks to MINI I made many friends, here in Germany and on other continents. But now I have to take a MINI break.

The world will not end today. After dropping of our Clubman a BMW 1er is waiting for us to be taken home. It’s bright blue like my first MINI and equally sporty. But it has 5 doors and that is because we do have two boys growing a little bit every day. We need a bit more space.
You could start arguing why we didn’t go for a MINI Countryman then. Well, it ‘s a nice car but it’s not for me.

Good bye dear MINI. I hope you get into good hands.

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The MINI One Surprises

MINI OneOur MINI Clubman Diesel was due for a service. So I got a MINI One as a loaner to keep me moving. Unexpectedly this little sucker was so much fun to drive. The shorter wheelbase of the 3 door hatch is definitely providing more fun around corners than the Clubman. God, it felt good.

The little 1.4 liter fuel engine only offers about 95 horses, but they still felt more engaged than those of our turbo diesel. Admittedly top end speed and acceleration was lacking on the Autobahn, but inner city and country side driving was a pleasure. It was also great to hear some engine roar, something the diesel is lacking entirely.

However, there was another surprise. Something rather unexpected. The fuel consumption was insane. Really. 16 miles to the gallon (or 14.9l/100km)? Sixteen??? Our Diesel gets me over 35 mpg – and I know I’m not driving it super efficiently. But 16 mpg? And I really didn’t push the little One too hard. I drove it like I drive our Clubman Diesel every day.
MINI One Surprising Fuel Consumption

The conclusion?
I’m sure our MINI Clubman Diesel will stay with us for a few more years, but driving the MINI One made me want to switch to the shorter, more tossable original 3 door. And preferably one with some roaring, powerful engine.
Did I hear someone say JCW? I’m all in!

Changing the Perception of Diesel from Dirty and Slow to Clean and Fast

BMW, the company behind the MINI brand, runs a TV ad in the US to change the perception of Diesel powered cars.
No word about lower CO² emissions, lower fuel consumption, efficiency dynamics. No, no, no. Instead they show a “clean, quiet, powerful” 335d roaring and oversteering through the black exhaust smoke of the diesely past.

Watch the ad below. I enjoyed it. Do you?

Happy New Year!

Yes it’s been a while since the last post. Our MINI Clubman Diesel is still running well.
“Earl Grey” is now with us for over a year. Time for a brief review. In the past 12 months, he carried us over 7,000 miles, was refueled 22 times, sipping about 189 gallons of Diesel. That makes it an average of 36 mpg (US). The highest average mpg was at 42.8 in the middle of summer, and the lowest at 29.4 during a trip to the Nürburgring.

Finally Our MINI Clubman Diesel received his red ears. This is something that was planned from the very beginning. I actually mocked up a view using the MINI Build Your Own web tool. But I never got it done for many reasons.
And so my wife secretly grabbed our MINI and the spare mirror caps I had purchased from a fellow MINI owner and drove to a local paint shop while I was traveling on business in November. There she picked a beautiful red color and got the mirror caps painted. I then found them under the Christmas tree! A very nice surprise. I hope you agree they look great on Our MINI Clubman Diesel.

For 2011 Our MINI Clubman Diesel has some existing events lined up.
There will be many drives out to a building site that we will call home in late summer. We are building a house for the family and a garage for Our MINI Clubman Diesel.
Then there will also be MINI United in late August happening in the south of France. I hope to make it out there this year and I hope to meet with many of you fellow MINI enthusiasts!

Video of the 2011 MINI Clubman Cooper Diesel

Thanks to MotoringFile video is available of the updated 2011 MINI models.
One video includes close-ups of the 2011 Clubman Cooper Diesel. Fast forward to 3:00 to see it in full glory.

I’ve noticed the following changes:

  • The slightly changes faux side air vent at 3:10
  • New designed lower front bumper and chrome trim at 3:28
  • Wider buffers on back bumper at 4:00
  • LED tail lights at 4:10
  • New boot cover. It now curls up rather than dangling around. Nice! Watch it in action at 4:33
  • All-black interior center console with new radio and air con controls at 5:15 (Looks like they haven’t change the not ideal position of the USB/Aux ports.)
  • Improved sat nav unit at 5:30
  • New belt clip for Clubdoor-side front seat belt at 5:52. Nice!
  • New Diesel engine at 6:00, pure engine sounds at 6:22
  • Lots of unexciting drive by video from 6:30 to the end.

Can you find more? Let me know in the comments!

The MINI Clubman – a true family car?

It’s been a while. Our MINI Clubman Diesel has since shuttled the whole family flawlessly and we all enjoyed it. It’s time to share this experience.

The main reason for getting a MINI Clubman was not because it fits our family of four better than most other cars. No, no, no. It was a decision driven by the fun and verve a MINI offers and the itch I felt personally after selling my beloved Cooper S. We already own a proper family car, a Škoda Octavia Combi, so there is really no need for another full-fledged family car. I was ready for the compromise of driving a smaller but fun car that at times can carry the kids as well. Living in an urban city, I drive the MINI to work each day. On the way there, I drop off the older of my two sons at the Kindergarten. And the MINI Clubman is just perfect for that.

In the past months we often choose to use the MINI instead of the Škoda – even for longer drives with all four of us. My main excuse for squeezing everyone in was that our MINI Clubman being a Cooper Diesel is very economical to drive vs. the Škoda with its 2.0 FSI (Volkswagen) engine. So each mile in the MINI helps to save the planet and some cash. Money we prefer to spend for our kids (toys, ice cream, diapers) instead of handing it to the big oil companies.

And while I have to admit that I cannot really recommend buying a MINI Clubman as the only family car, I still find ourselves squeezing in and enjoying it. As seeing is believing, here is proof that the MINI Clubman does fit two rather tall adults, a three-year old, his kids bike, a baby, a baby stroller, and a bunch of bags.

Here is how the boot looks like with all the stuff in it.

It looks a bit wild but the doors close easily. The baby stroller, a Teutonia “Fun” (or t-1o0 series),  is not even one of the most compact models available. It is the chassis only, without a seat. Our youngest sits in a baby capsule while riding in the back row of the MINI – and this is simply clicked into the stroller chassis at the destination. Folded the stroller chassis is about  24″ wide, 17″ tall and 36″ long. It took me about 5 minutes at first to figure out how to best place the stroller and kids bike in the boot. Once done, it’s fairly easy. And the view through the back windows is not even that limited by some of the things peaking out.

The kids have more than enough space. Our little one sits in his baby capsule, strapped in facing the rear. Our older son enjoys his Isofix secured booster seat.

And here is one other thing: fastening his seat belt through the MINI’s open Clubdoor – which is opening towards the rear – is much easier and more comfortable than doing the same in any other car with standard front hinged doors. The Clubdoors offers access more from the front, so guiding the belt around a seated person is much easier then if you have to do it from the side.

The MINI Clubman is a small car, but compared to the 3-door MINI models, it does offer decent adult leg room in the back. Colleagues riding with me in the Clubman were often positively surprised. The picture here shows my 6 ft 4 self sitting in the back. The front seat is adjusted in a way so I can sit there without my knees being squeezed against the glove box. Admittedly it’s not business class leg room, but most airlines offer less space in economy than the MINI Clubman in the back row. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.

The summary?

Surprisingly the Clubman lives up to the promise of an urban family car – if you’re ready to squeeze in and don’t haul around a lot of stuff. But honestly, if you’re looking for a proper family car, you may want to consider some other options and do some extensive test drives.

And if you still end up with a MINI Clubman, one thing is for sure: your right brain has won this time.

Our Clubman Diesel gets less thirsty

Diesel Pump, courtesy of vistavision

Whatever happened when I drove our MINI Diesel Clubman across the 3,000 miles mark, it has quite a positive impact on its fuel consumption. According to the on-board computer the average diesel thirst is all of a sudden down and now in the 41 mpg (US) region. Before the average consumption was more or less around 38 mpg.

As the on-board computer tends to be not that accurate when it comes to real fuel consumption, I’m tracking the real consumption using Spritmonitor.de. There, the calculated average based on mileage and all fuelings so far is 35 mpg. I’m curious to see how this changes after the next re-fueling.

What is your average?