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Mini Cooper S Clubman, quick, stylish and pricey


After a week of driving the new Mini Cooper S Clubman the best comparison I can make is that it's like a good Swiss watch.

That's not because it's made up of tiny, beautifully engineered jewel-like components but because it's solidly built and makes you feel special while costing you a lot of money for the privilege.

And feel special you will.  The Clubman's components are more chunky than petite, but the car is beautifully crafted inside and out, and it feels better built than many cars costing in excess of the R436,347 asking price.  

The Mini Clubman is not really a Mini in the way the diminutive British original was. At 4.27 metres long and 1.8 metres wide this, the second-generation Clubman launched in 2015 is bigger than its predecessor and close to a VW Golf in size.


The engine

The Cooper S version comes with a peppy 141kW/280Nm two-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto transmission and the flat-black and shiny chrome interior of the press car loaned to us was very, very stylish and classy.

The interior

The trim quality is excellent throughout, the switchgear feels absolutely top notch, the seats are comfortable and the interior lighting impressive. Problem is, Mini is owned by BMW and shares the German parent company's reluctance to make clear what exactly is standard and what forms part of a long and expensive options list.

The extras

The test car's dual barn-door tailgates could be remotely operated, it was fitted with a satellite navigation system and it had 18" rims, but the downloadable brochure doesn't detail what is standard and what isn't. I'd go through the spec sheet with a fine toothcomb after driving a dealer's fully-specced test car if I were buying, just to prevent any unpleasant surprises when I took delivery.  


The Cooper S Clubman's a brisk performer and the auto transmission is sweet, although there are no steering wheel mounted shift paddles. The claimed 0-100km/h time of 7.2 seconds is good, and the top speed of 228km/h makes it a genuinely fast car, but it's not a class-leading pocket-rocket.

I enjoyed it immensely and was sorry to see it go, which isn't always the case with test cars, because it was fun to drive and felt as well built as anything else I've driven and better than most. It's expensive, but those who can afford it - and the many, many pricey options available - will be deeply satisfied.

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