11 Oct 2013

2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan first drive review

Matt Hubbard reviews the 2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan

2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan
It's a Mini, and it's a van.  It's a Mini Clubvan.  Take one Mini Clubman, the second most sensible Mini after the hatch, remove the rear seats, fill in the rear windows, put a flat floor in the boot and, hey presto, you have a van.  They've even retained the roof rails.

It looks great, because the Clubman looks great.  Mini front end, estate rear end with a pair of side opening rear doors.  Simple.  Vanlike, but also carlike.

The test car was painted in a horrible colour called Ice Blue.  The colour range is limited to Ice Blue, Black or White, which is a shame but I suppose most vans are going to be painted white.

The wheels are lovely and suit the car.  In typical BMW/Mini style it's a cheap car to start with, but the price is vastly inflated with options.  The wheels cost £1050.
2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan

The interior is just the same as any other Mini, in the front.  A big rev-counter ahead of the steering wheel and a completely useless, and almost unreadable whilst driving speedo in the centre.  Happily there's a digital speed readout in the rev-counter.

The levers, knobs and dials are all ├╝ber-solid and high quality.  I particularly like the levers at the bottom of the centre console, that control the windows.  Click, clack.

I used to own a first generation new-Mini.  I'd heard a lot about it, how it drove well, how it was well constructed.  In reality it was a crappy tin box that was slow and I sold it after 2 months.

Climbing in the Mini Clubvan and playing with the controls I was surprised at just how much better this latest version of the Mini is.  The seats are better too.  The R50 Mini's seats were dreadful.  These are great.

The key is a weird plastic blob that plugs into the dash to the right of the steering wheel.  There's an info screen in the middle of the central speedo.  It does everything well and is pretty simple.  Oh, and it has digital radio too - but that's also an option.
2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan

The engine is a 1.6 turbo diesel with 112bhp and 0-62 takes 10.2 seconds.  Oh, really?  This is going to be dreadful isn't it.

No.  It's a complete scream.  It weighs 1,260kg unladen and drives better than any van has any right to drive.

Corners are taken with finesse.  The engine is willing, the 6-speed gearbox is slick.  It's a B-road monster, and an A-road cruiser.

And it's a van.

It shouldn't be possible to have quite so much fun in a van (for those with dirty minds I mean driving it) with no downsides.  It doesn't rattle and crash. It doesn't jar over potholes.  It's got a proper, sorted car chassis that gives a brilliant blend of a decent ride and racy handling.

The only downside to the Mini Cooper D Clubvan is that your payload might end up being battered about as you swoop between corners.
2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan

On to such practical matters.  According to Mini its luggage area is 1150mm long by 1090mm wide and 840mm high.  That doesn't mean a great deal on paper.  Let's just say it looks pretty big and is a square-ish shape with no intrusive wheel arches and is flat in all planes aside from the roof.

It will return an astonishing 72.4mpg and sits in a low insurance group.  Emissions are 103 g/km of CO2.

Frankly, I could run one of these as a day to day car and be quite happy.

The basic price is £17,055 but £2,720 is VAT which UK businesses can claim back.  The test car had all sorts of options from the £1k alloys to a £1,130 leather pack via a £1,340 media pack.  The total on the road price was £22,445, which is pretty steep.

It's worth it though.  The Mini Cooper D Clubvan is a brilliant car/van.
2013 Mini Cooper D Clubvan

Article by Matt Hubbard