BMW has put the Clubman on a dose of steroids, making it the biggest Mini yet

At first glance, the new Mini Clubman looks like an estate version of Mini's all-conquering hatchback. Oddly though, the firm describes it as the latest chapter in the “regeneration” of the Mini family, as if it's a revamp of a rundown 1960s housing estate.

Walk around the back though, and you'll see there is some truth to this idea as the Clubman is fitted with eccentric barn-style swinging doors instead of the traditional hinged tailgate. This harks back to 1969 and the first Mini Clubman, which was an attempt by British Leyland to boost its flagging profits.

It had a larger chassis and unconventional rear doors and demanded a higher list price for what was seen as an upmarket Mini. Nearly 50 years later, the Mini brand is owned BMW has put the Clubman on a dose of steroids, making it the biggest Mini yet by German giant BMW, which is trying to pull a similar trick. It has put the Clubman on a minor dose of steroids, making it the biggest Mini yet. But it's more than just a stretched Mini Hatch. Instead, it's based on the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer. It's essentially a BMW in a Mini body, a charge that irritates the firm and angers Mini purists in equal measure.

Let's not be beastly to the Germans, though. The new Mini has come a long way and been embraced by the British public. The BMW base of the Clubman means it's wider, longer and more spacious. BMW was also sensible enough to ditch the “suicide doors” of the 2007 model, which forced rear passengers to open doors into the face of oncoming traffic and were derided. Instead, the new Clubman has four proper doors and a high roofline, making it a better bet if you think a Mini Hatch won't accommodate any family additions.

Mini Cooper D Clubman

Price: £22,245
Engine capacity: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power Output (PS@rpm): 150@4,000
Top Speed (mph): 132 Fuel economy (mpg): 68.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 109 

But don't let the barn-style doors trick you; the Clubman is more spacious than a standard Mini with up to 1,250 litres of internal load space, but not as spacious as a VW Golf.

It does come with some neat tricks, including interior LED lights that seem to change from red to blue to green with the car's mood. The doors are also lined with illuminated stripes and the finish is sharp throughout. There's even a Batman-style wing mirror that beams a Mini logo on the ground when you hit the unlock button on the key fob. Who said the Germans don't appreciate English eccentricities?

BMW has put the Clubman on a dose of steroids, making it the biggest Mini yet.

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