Being stuck in traffic
on a regular basis gives you a lot of time to think and look around. But mostly thinking, because the scenery doesn’t tend to change much when you’re standing still. Sure, there’s always Facebook or Instagram, but as I’m not stalking that many people on social networks updates there tend to be slow. So, when living in most congested cities in the world, one gets such copious amounts of «thinking time» that before long you end up pondering the meaning of life, what car to buy next, and who the hell programmed the traffic lights to behave like this?
Of those three, of course the hardest question by far is what car you should buy. There’s just so much choice in the automotive candy store, that you end up feeling a bit like a hungry elephant that accidentally strolls into a tropical fruit market. That colourful comparison was in no way inspired by a YouTube video I just watched, in case you’re wondering. Anyway, most of us are on a finite budget when it comes to car shopping, so it makes sense to try and get as many tasty features into a single car as possible.
It appears that Mini have been hard at work at doing precisely that, which leads me to the first reason to buy a Clubman:
It’s small but also rather big
Big is the new small. Or is small the new big? I forget. But the fact is that properly small cars are now very rare indeed. And when you do see one, it tends to look more like a glorified motorbike than an actual car. The original Austin Mini was small, no doubt about that. But several decades worth of improvements in comfort and safety standards has moved the goalposts considerably, so it was hardly a surprise that under BMW’s ownership the new Mini became a lot less mini. Even so, it’s still a very compact car by 21st century standards. And when you do live in a city with a lot of cars but ever fewer parking paces, it can be quite nice to have a car that fits in a reasonably small parking space. The people who are driving behind you will also appreciate the fact that your parking maneuvers don’t take as much time as docking a cruise ship in a tiny harbour does.
It’s big but also rather small
Maybe you’ve already owned a Mini or a Mini-sized car. Probably you liked it, but eventually you needed a lot more space for your family. This is where the Clubman comes in, it has a much longer wheelbase and five doors. You can fit four tall people and their luggage in a Mini Clubman, if you wish, and you don’t even need to saw anyone’s legs off. Which saves you considerable time and doesn’t make a mess. The Clubman manages to offer pretty generous interior space for being a compact car, but it’s still a true Mini in terms of looks and size. Of course it’s bigger on the outside, you can’t cheat the laws of physics, but it’s still very obviously Mini at the same time. No need to get a boring family sedan, after all.
One of the most practical things about this car is how you open the door(s) to get into the trunk. It’s not one big door but rather two smaller ones. If you only have one shopping bag to put in, you open one. If you’re carrying twelve bags and have only your teeth left to operate any locks or handles — the doors can be opened electrically for you. To to so you either press a button on the key or, in case you really are carrying twelve shopping bags and the key is in your pocket, you can simply move your foot near the back of the car and the door will open automatically. MAGIC!
It’s fun to drive
I know that being fun to drive isn’t exactly a unique feature, but the trouble with having fun in fast cars is that you kind of need to go fast first. And going fast in a city is challenging at the best of times, not to mention illegal. So when you have a car that’s exciting to drive at moderate speeds because it will go around a tight corner like a wasp that’s late for dinner, you can enjoy the drive and not worry about getting unsolicited pictures of your car in the mail shortly afterwards.
The Mini Clubman keeps the go-kart like handling we’ve known for a long time from the smaller Mini models, the Cooper S in particular. It’s the result of having a very fast steering rack, having the wheels very close to the corners of the car, and the absence of weight. If you’ve only ever driven big heavy cars, go drive a Mini and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The Cooper S version of the Clubman gets a new 2-liter turbocharged engine, borrowed from BMW, which makes more than 190 horsepower. That’s enough power make a Mini fast, but it’s also small enough that you only pay 50 Rubles per horsepower per year in Russian road tax.
It’s actually rather stylish
I can’t proclaim that I have much of a fashion sense, only to the point that I sense I’m getting bored to death by fashion shows, but at least Minis strike me as designed by an actual designer. Too many cars these days look like they were created by someone pressing the «new random design» button on a computer somewhere. Mini have perfected the retro-modern car interior in my opinion. It might not be to everyone’s liking of course as taste is subjective, but unless you have an irrational hatred of round shapes I think you’ll agree that the Mini cabin is rather pleasant to look at overall.
And, most important of all, it has a premium feel when you’re actually sitting in it. The choice and quality of materials is decidedly upscale, so you don’t feel like you’re paying extra just for something looking pretty. The distinct Mini look still survives in the Clubman, the roof in particular has been kept small for that purpose. It’s impossible to mistake for any other car, which in this day and age is quite an achievement.
It’s well built, too
I imagine that most of you have never sat in an original Mini, never mind actually lived with one. If you have, or simply know your car history, you’ll know that the company behind the original Mini was one of the worst car manufacturers ever to exist. British Leyland, whenever it wasn’t on strike, built cars that had about a 50/50 chance of starting in the morning. Unless there had been a heavy rain shower overnight, in which case your car might have turned into a pile of rust by the time you wokr up. These were the dark ages of the car industry.
New Minis, however, are designed and built by German giant BMW and have been since 1994. They are a quality item that’s not as likely to let you down as the original.
It’s easy to buy in Moscow
A good car must be purchased in a good place. Fortunately, Moscow does have such a place: at «Avilon. Official MINI Dealer» you can be sure to get the best price in the city (and a guaranteed gift!) and you can choose a car with a vehicle title certificate. Moreover, your personal manager will help you «put together» your very individual MINI: standard solutions are not accepted here at any level. Despite all the traffic jams, giving me the valued opportunity to keep reasoning about speed and machinery, car lovers here in Moscow do have something do be proud of.
What about the last reason then, Coomans?
Thanks for that reminder. The Mini Clubman has managed to become an objectively good all-round car, with the added bonus of not being boring. In this «Compact Luxury Family Car» segment, that can well be a deal clincher.
Time to do some more thinking, I’ll get my keys.
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