Mini have quite the line up now, you could say they cater for all tastes which is a good thing.
We took the new Countryman for a spin and pitted it against a new version of the Clubman, the Black Edition.
Mini Countryman - starting from £23,035
With Mini sales up it’s no wonder that they released an updated Countryman in February, for those that have wanted a rugged looking Mini then this has been the model to go for since it was launched in 2010.
Now 20cm longer than the previous version it retains its off-roading, ‘I’ll take on anything’ styling with its roof rails, big wheel arches and the bulbous front headlights reminding you it’s still a Mini, yet a more practical one.
Priced from £23,035 it certainly is for the more adventurous of types, it’s now possible to add a roof tent (not sure how many owners will go for this option unless you’re driving it across Africa), there’s the sporty John Cooper Works and launching in June 2017 is a Plug-in Hybrid which will drive up to 25 miles on pure electric.
With their All4 all-wheel drive system available across the range it’s surprisingly quite a fun car to drive, we drove the Cooper D All4 2.0 which produces 150hp, has a six-speed manual gearbox and there’s a dial at the bottom of the ‘box which can be flipped from Sport to Green modes. The red sporty mode will firm up the steering so it’s more reactive to your input and sharpens up the throttle response, while Green mode will naturally do the complete opposite and help fuel efficiency.
If you really are light with your right foot then you might be able to achieve a combined 58.9mpg, with CO2 emissions at 127g/km then it will be £160 for the first year in road tax.
There is nothing small about the Mini anymore which nowadays is a good thing as most owners want practical, spacious cars and this fits perfectly into that criteria.
Boot space is 450 litres which can be increased to 1,390 litres, great for packing in a few suitcases or even camping equipment and the rear seats can also be moved backwards for up to 13cm more of legroom.
It has an electronic tailgate and a nifty picnic bench, which flips out from the boot and is ideal when you need to sit down and take muddy boots off or to stop animals scratching the bodywork.
The Mini interiors are pretty much universal, the flick switches, large red start button, round dials and plate sized centre display screen give it that originality, while the ambient lighting accents are cool and modern.
Media, navigation, car and telephone settings are all displayed on the bright, clear, 8.8 inch screen and with the LED ring around it changing colour in response to various actions it really does add a wow factor to the interior.
With the Clubman now a six-door, they got rid of the one rear suicide door, it still has the quirky, rear split-opening ‘breadvan’ style doors, which lead onto a deep, 360 litre boot, which can be increased to 1,250 litres and the doors also have some concealed storage too.
It now comes as a special Black Edition which adds black bonnet stripes, piano black trim and black 17-inch wheels to give it a sporty look. It really does work if you’re going for a less than subtle look, the two tone grey and black roof making it really stand out.
Available as a trim for the Cooper and Cooper D versions, we drove the former which underneath the bonnet has a 1.5 litre petrol engine which delivers 136hp with 220Nm of torque, it’s fairly nippy but lacks a sportiness to match the exterior. It’s quite a noisy engine and you often feel like you’re driving a go-kart, vibrations can filter into the cabin from its reactions to less than perfect road surfaces and although the steering is light, it just lacks that overall feel of being at one with the car.
With CO2 emissions as low as 121g/km then like the Countryman we also drove it will be £160 in road tax for the first year and it could achieve around the mid fifty mark in MPG figures.
Mini Clubman - starting from £19,595
The Clubman Black Edition costs from £21,430 with the entry level Clubman One starting at £19,595 while a sportier John Cooper Works is priced from £30,180.
The most practical one out of them both without a doubt is the Mini Countryman, it’s longer, ideal for nipping around town or tackling the countryside and has a larger boot. It also is a lot more fun to drive too, but the Clubman does have the unique split doors, a quirk we love, and the styling of the Black Edition does give it that sporty edge over the more rugged Countryman.