Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Right it has finally happened, I am now encroaching into the area of test driving! I test drove a Mini Cooper S Clubman. So the following is going to be the first review of (hopefully) many.

As you may know I sometimes drive a Mini Cooper, and you also may know I have been surprisingly impressed with said Mini Cooper. It is in no way a serious car which is one of the main reasons why I/we wanted one, although the other alternatives were a Focus or a Golf so anything would seem exciting in comparison to them. I always thought the Mini was a bit showy for me but the combination of BMW quality and sportiness was not matched by any other car of that size or for that money. Living with one is also easy and it is just as fun as it looks. My only complaint is that it is quite attention seeking but that was a small price to pay for all the fun.

That was then though and now every one has jumped on the band wagon and produce compact, quality, quirky and quick cars that are far more practical than the Mini. And now with new updated looks for the Mini many are far more attractive. So this doesn't leave Mini in a brilliant position. So i thought I would help. I would test my favorite model and try to promote it (that's if its any good.)

I chose the Mini Cooper S Clubman. I believe that it is better looking than the normal Mini, I think the new Mini's bulbous front looks less... errr.... shit with a larger rear end. Some people have said that the back of the Clubman is ugly well i don't know whether you have noticed the back of the normal mini it looks about 3 meters too high off the ground. Also it is more practical, there is in fact a boot in the Clubman and you can fit 5 people in one. Its still not a practical as a Fiat Panda though.

Inside it looks like a Mini, surprisingly, just bigger the speedo is ludicrous but the one I drove had a SatNav, TV and DVD player in the middle so I forgave it. Every thing about it is similar to my Mini just improved. Its just a little bit better, from being able to see the speed on the on board computer so its right in front of your eyes to how you adjust the mirrors. The car comes with some crazy and too complicated gadgets, instead of a key you get some wand type thing so starting the car needs some sort of ritual/dance. Also it has a "Stop/Start" system where the engine stops when you stop at traffic lights and starts again when you set off, imagine how good that is going to be in 10 to 15 years time.

So actually driving the car. Well the steering is unnervingly light at low speeds, I was worried that it was going to be woolly, unresponsive with no feel when I got going. There was no need for me to be worried it was brilliant. Unfortunately you don't get the whine of that supercharger in the new Cooper S that you got in the old one but the noise is nothing to complain about. Cooper S has a turbo charger instead and I was expecting turbo lag, but couldn't really detect any, even in 4th doing 40 at about 2,500 rpm the car gradually accelerated, quickly, with no big jerk when the turbo cut in. It feels almost the same as a normal mini even with the longer wheel base and extra weight so it was still a hoot to drive. Most test drives you read of the Clubman say theres allot of torque steer, they would be almost correct. There is some torque steer but in the 15 minutes I drove the car I had got used to it enough to adapt my dring style to compensate. Over all then a fun, brilliant car with some uneasary gadgets but aren't although all the best gadgets are the least necessary ones.

So would I have one? Yes... if I were a millionaire. After I drove the car we priced one up with pretty much the same spec as my mini and came to a staggering £22,000. I know! That much for a car with the wrong name. Clubmans were the square front minis, the estates were either Travelers or Countryman's. So my overall conclusion on the New Mini Cuntryman, great but so is a Bugatti Veyron, I'd much rather have 2 Fiat Panda 100bhps, The Fiat dealership in Cov has got a really nice brand new one for £8,200 and you still get more equipment on that than you do your £22,000 Traveler.