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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.


Two visual reasons for the Clubman Diesel

My friend Richard thought of me today and sent two videos via Facebook. Thanks Richard!

One is a viral by MINI for the Clubman.

Clearly the video doesn’t play to the left brain about why buying a Clubman, but to the right brain. After all the Clubman is not really a practical car. Ask Corolla-driving Paul about it.
It’s a different car. The twin doors in the back. The “Clubdoor”, a one-sided rear suicide door.
One thing confused me though: I’m not sure why they are saying “it’s a fake” at the end of the video. I used to drive my MINI on the Autobahn like the two Clubman all the time. Three-sixties and flips and much more! 😉

The other is a “Making Of” the MINIMALISM ad that MINI produced to promote the economical fuel consumption of their cars.

Watching the “Making Of” is seems MINI wasn’t tightfisted when carving out the budget to create the ad. You can see the final result right here. Really nice.
It enforces my thinking once again that a Diesel is a good choice. I hope to be able to test drive one next week to find out more.

Enjoy the videos and have great week!

Why going to the Club, man?

Given the blog is called “Our MINI Clubman Diesel” you may have guessed it already. I’m looking for a MINI Cooper D Clubman.
But the question is why?
And that is really a good question. Maybe you dear reader come to a different conclusion of which car suits me best. I welcome your take, so feel free to leave a comment.

My beloved MINI Cooper S (R53)I laid out some of the reasons why I sold my beloved Cooper S Coupe over here already. Now let me explain this a little more in detail.
I bought that car 5 years ago. It was the perfect choice for me back then. But my life has changed dramatically over the past 4 years. And for the good if I may say this up front.
I found the love of my life and our son Tim was born in the summer of 2006. Just about 8 weeks ago our second son Moritz was born. That alone shifts the automobile needs tremendously. However I’m not looking for a family wagon. My wife Kerstin has the pleasure to drive one of those already. And still I now prefer a 4-door over anything 2-door – from the practical point of view. I’m a slim 6.5″ so crawling into the back of a 2-door car to secure my sons into their seats is a crumple.

So some kind of boring 4-door? Let’s see. Continue reading