Tag Archives: family car

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.

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