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Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Facelift sharpens edges of the practical but quirky Clubman

MINI Clubman (15 on) - rated 4.5 out of 5
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PROS

  • Sharp, engaging handling
  • Retro looks with modern build quality
  • More practical than ever

CONS

  • Still not as practical as estate rivals
  • JCW model feels heavy
  • Expensive

At a glance

New price £21,905 - £36,365
Lease from new From £227 per month
Used price £8,245 - £31,245
Used monthly cost £223 - £845
Fuel economy 38 - 74 mpg
Road tax cost £0 - £235
Insurance group 12 - 40 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Sharp, engaging handling
  • Retro looks with modern build quality
  • More practical than ever

CONS

  • Still not as practical as estate rivals
  • JCW model feels heavy
  • Expensive

MINI Clubman rivals

The first-generation MINI Clubman estate was barely worthy of the title – a curious, handsome but slightly flawed alternative to the supermini status quo. But the latest model fixed all of that when it was launched back in 2015 as a quirky but conventionally-sized family hatchback.

It’s now been given a mid-life facelift for 2019, ushering in greater levels of equipment, refined looks that mimic the facelifted MINI Hatch and a new halo model – the 306hp MINI Clubman John Cooper Works.

This makes it even more of a serious rival to established models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3.

Patriotic styling in a practical package

MINI’s design language of late has been making the most of its heritage – despite being owned by the German brand BMW, new MINI models are loaded up with Union Jacks. The most striking of these can be found in the taillights, which mimic a quarter of the flag in crisp-edged LEDs. Somewhat unflatteringly named ‘Brexit taillights’ by a few members of the Parkers team, they’re certainly divisive, though we actually think they suit the car much better than its previous, blobby units did.

Also new for the 2019 facelift are rather subtle but really very stylish Union Jack alloy wheels. We’re big fans of these.

The new styling sits atop a body that remains pretty practical – certainly in MINI terms, at least. The first Clubman was little more than a squared-off MINI Hatch, with very little space in the rear, a cramped boot and only a single rear door. Named the ‘Clubdoor’, it opened to the rear, suicide-style – a term that might have been more accurate than intended in the UK, as MINI never re-orientated it for right-hand drive cars and as such you tended to disgorge your passengers directly into traffic.

But when the model was reborn in 2015 it took the form of a practical, four-door family car, though rather than a conventional hatchback boot it retained the twin barn-door style at the rear. This gives it a rather quirky touch, and doesn’t actually impede practicality too much – except for the view out of the rear window.

With MINI styling quite successfully translated to a larger car, the Clubman’s proved popular with buyers who can’t manage with the meagre practicality of a MINI Hatch but want to stay within the brand.

2019 facelift freshens things up

In 2019 MINI refreshed the styling of the Clubman to bring it in line with its Hatch and Convertible siblings. Styling changes are small but significant, with the aforementioned patriotic taillights matched by LED daytime running lights that now form an unbroken circle around the headlights.

2019 MINI Clubman interior

The range has also been simplified, with the complexities of the latest fuel emissions certification forcing the brand to offer a conventional trim level structure for the Clubman – something it’s eschewed in the past to give its customers more opportunity for personalisation. This means the Clubman can now be had in basic ‘Classic’ trim, or more upmarket ‘Sport’ and ‘Exclusive’.

The engine range has also been trimmed, with just Cooper, Cooper S and JCW models available as petrols and a sole Cooper D retained on the diesel front. There’s no sign of Mini’s fuel-saving plug-in hybrid model, which remains exclusive to the Countryman at this time.

Firebreathing John Cooper Works model now available

JCW or John Cooper Works is shorthand for the hottest standard Minis you can buy. The previous Clubman JCW was a bit of a flaccid disappointment, but this latest model is quite simply the most powerful model MINI has ever produced, with 306hp.

This gives it pace to rival the very best hot hatchbacks, while a sporting makeover, standard all-wheel drive and MINI’s typical handling prowess mean it’s rather an accomplishment.

So could the updated MINI Clubman be the premium hatchback for you?

MINI Clubman rivals