Category Archives: consumer insights

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!

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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?

The MINI Welcome Pack

MINI Welcome PackWe got a mailing from MINI this week. It is what I would call a “Welcome Pack”. The MINI Excitement Center sent it. It was really a surprise.

So let’s look at what we got.

  • a letter from Ulrike
  • a folder with what’s called “30 seconds of MINI Clubman Diesel facts”
  • a booklet (42 pages)
  • an info leaflet about the Amex MINI Excitement Card
  • a personalized calendar
  • a questionnaire and return envelope

Ulrike seems to be heading up MINI Customer Service and put all the welcome pack together. So let’s take a closer look at some of the contents. Continue reading

How to Promote Diesel Engines – Audi’s Super Bowl Ad

We chose a Diesel engine for our Clubman because of its green appeal and the superior performance – at least when compared to the fuel-powered Cooper version. But some don’t get that choice. The Cooper Diesel it not available in the US and so are many other manufacturers’  diesel versions.

Why is that? Well, because of two things I guess.

  1. Historically, because of the lack of demand for diesel powered cars in the US.
  2. And then because of strict environmental and emission laws. Still only a hand-full of the latest diesel engines are conforming to these.

German car manufacturer Audi has achieved full greenness with their TDI engines and once again proofed “Vorsprung durch Technik” is not just a marketing claim.
And now they are trying to hammer this into the US consumers and generate demand for their diesel version with this Super Bowl ad:

Would you buy a MINI Diesel or what would it need for you to buy one? Maybe the upcoming Cooper S Diesel? Let me know in the comments.

iPhone or iPod in the MINI

Just after Christmas I bought the last missing piece to endless hours of music enjoyment in my MINI: The cable that connects my iPod Touch with our MINI’s audio system and its harman/kardon HiFi speakers.
If you are ordering a new MINI and want to connect your iPhone or iPod to listen to the music on it while on the go, make sure to order the optional USB port. It is bundled with the Bluetooth hands-free system. The additional cable you will need doesn’t come with the car, you will have to buy it as an accessory. The part number of the cable is 61 12 0 440 812. I bought it for around €47 from a local BMW/MINI dealership. They refer to it as a Y-cable. Because on one side it has a dock connector end, and on the other side two ends – one USB and one 3.5 mm audio plug. Continue reading

The Cooper Diesel and its Fuel Consumption

After clocking the first 500 miles it’s now time for a quick check on how the Cooper Diesel engine of our Clubman does in terms of fuel economy. When I decided to go for the Diesel the main reasons were its low CO2 emissions, fuel consumption, and the good torque of the turbo.
The on-board computer told me I was driving at an average fuel consumption of 34 mpg. That is not overly impressive.
In the past weeks I drove the Clubman mainly through inner city traffic on my way to and from work. I have to admit I wasn’t never good at driving with a light foot. Especially when zipping through inner city traffic. I often try to beat the next light or to go around that slow car before the next turn.
And then there are a couple of other factors that need consideration when look at that rather poor mpg number.

Continue reading