Cooper SD ALL4 Steptronic
Brexit way things are going,
its good that you can still buy great
cars that are made in the UK.
The new Oxford-built Clubman ALL4
from MINI will make you proud to
be Buying British...
ALL4, AS ITS NAME IMPLIES, is the all-wheel drive version of MINI's six-door
mini-estate and parking one on your drive will cost you from £24K. Under the
bonnet you can have either a 189bhp 2.0-litre turboed petrol engine (Cooper
S) or a 187bhp 2.0 turbodiesel (Cooper SD) the most powerful diesel engine
ever installed in a MINI.
And yes, we did say six and not five doors and that's actually
the new Clubman's signature feature: four conventional side doors and a pair
of side-hinged doors accessing its practical boot-cum-loadbay.
And it's not just any old all-wheel drive under the skin but an 'intelligent'
one. If you like changing gears with a stick then the petrol unit offers a six-speed
manual g'box or, for those who don't, an auto. The more torquey SD turbodiesel
only comes with a Steptronic automatic transmission.
we said 'intelligent' we meant 'on-demand' most of the time the
ALL4 sends power to the front wheels, feeding drive to the rear wheels whenever
grip starts to lighten-up at the nose.
295lb ft of torque, a top
speed of 138mph and
acceleration to 62mph
in 7.2 seconds,
youll definitely be
exiting bends with gusto.
But with a real-life
consumption of close to
50mpg, you wont be
stopping too often
to fill up...
And rather than just reacting once it's gone, the ALL4 system anticipates any
loss of traction and diverts more to the back wheels to rebalance the car and
neutralise any tendency to run wide under power. In addition there's also torque
vectoring using an electronic differential lock, this also boosts
traction (either by braking or sending more power to any individual wheel) when
pulling away from slippery junctions or powering out of bends.
And with 187bhp and 295lb ft of torque, a top speed of 138mph and off-the-blocks
acceleration to 62mph in 7.2 seconds, you'll definitely be exiting bends with
gusto in the ALL4. But with an official Combined figure of 58.9mpg, you won't
be stopping too often to fill up. Everybody knows that 'official' figures rarely
achieve their lab-obtained results in real-world driving, so Cooper SD owners
won't be holding their breath to see the high-fifties. That said, a week's spirited
driving (it's hard not too indulge that extra ALL4 roadholding) threw
up a pretty good 48.9mpg.
With accessible get-up-and-go, all-wheel drive, a keen autobox, and a heavy
right foot, near 50mpg is pretty much something to cheer about. More sedate
drivers who've bought their Clubman for equally valid reasons
of practicality, versatility and all-weather driveability will
likely better our average figure. Who knows, they may indeed see 58.9mpg. If
not, then they'll have as much fun as we did. So, a win-win situation.
But if fun is your 'fave' then there's much to ensure you get it. While you
could choose the petrol-fuelled Cooper S, the generally quiet and smooth-running
turbodiesel Cooper SD has plenty of something that both 4x4 systems and autoboxes
thrive on torque. And with a hefty 295lb ft of it on call from
1,750rpm, the clean-revving four-pot SD and eight-speed Steptronic transmission
make a more fluent couple than many who've appeared on Strictly.
Injecting some 'sport' into the Cooper SD's driving is made easy by the 'collar'
around the base of the selector lever. Turn it to the right and you'll move
from Normal into the Green mode, which is all about 'eco'. The ALL4's stop-start
system, by the way, is a good 'un not only is it hardly noticeable
in operation but, unlike some, it restarts promptly when you're ready to 'go'
Twist the drive setting collar clockwise from Normal and you'll find yourself
in Sport mode the steering weights-up and reacts quicker, the
upshifts are palpably faster, and the response to your right foot is noticeably
snappier as the ALL4 readies itself to rumba.
rumba it can; but its best moves are in the Sport driving mode where the poke-on-demand
will bring a smile to your face. Given its all-wheel drive character, the surprise
is just how eagerly it wants to party body roll is well managed
(just enough 'lean' to let you know when the limit's closing in) and the suspension
keeps it all very civilised even when you pitch it into a corner and then power
out with some real zing. At high cruising speeds it's very confidently 'planted'.
a hefty 295lb ft of
torque on call from
1,750rpm, the smooth-
revving four-pot turbodiesel and eight-
transmission make a
more fluent couple than
many whove appeared
The ride/handling compromise seems to suit both parties and the ALL4 feels sure-footedly
agile yet settled on its 225/40 18-inch Bridgestone rubber, dealing well with
scarred blacktop and even gravel tracks while still giving you feedback as to
the contours unfolding beneath you. Speed bumps are best not disrespected.
With its wide, hunkered-down stance, 'fat' seven-spoked, black 18-inch alloy
wheels, black wheelarch protectors, and black glasshouse treatment
and not forgetting those unique twin doors at the tail the Clubman
looks estate-like in a captivatingly different way to every other estate car
you might come across. Which is part of MINI's clever marketing: there's not
really anything else that looks even vaguely like the Clubman, so if you like
it there's no alternative but to Buy MINI!
Pull on one of the easy-to-use big chrome door handles and inside it's a similar
story: there's nothing quite like a MINI cabin with its trademark large central
'dial' and funky-yet-functional toggle switches. And with these latest-generation
models a premium ambiance can be taken for granted: quality feel-and-look leather
upholstery, a herringbone-pattern metallic fascia insert, plus plenty of well-fettled
chrome trim highlights, especially to the switchgear.
Top marks too for the head-up display it shows graphic navigation
prompts and your road speed alongside posted speed limit signs and its clear-cut
information can be safely absorbed without taking your eyes off the road.
Sited in the centre of the dash, the main 'dial' is not so much a dial as a
fully-fledged infotainment and SatNav hub with 3D mapping. An analogue speedo
flanked by a slim arc for the rev-counter and another for the fuel sits dead-ahead
of the driver; the onboard computer screen within the speedo keeps you informed
about all things trip as well as the currently engaged gear, external temperature,
etc. Scrolling through the menu is easily done via a button on the indicator
stalk, while the multifunction steering wheel controls cover just about everything
you'll need access to whilst driving.
leather-wrapped wheel is exactly what you'd expect to find in a sporty MINI:
a three-spoker with a thick, grippy rim, comfy thumb-rest pads, and shift-paddles
on the horizontal bars.
marks for the head-
up display it shows
prompts and your road
speed alongside posted
speed limit signs and
its clear-cut information
can be safely absorbed
without taking your eyes
off the road...
Setting a perfect driving position takes no time at all even though the sporty,
well-bolstered (in suede) and supportive black leather seats are manually operated;
to make up for that they come with three-stage heating, adjustable height and
lumber, and extending under-knee cushions.
The cabin itself is light and airy (with a fist of air between your head and
the roof-lining), thanks in part to the twin glass roof panels; the front one
incorporates a one-shot tilt action that lets in fresh air but to keep the temperature
just so you've got dual-zone climate control and every-which-way air vents.
The three large illuminated climate knobs are easy to use on the move, and the
system does very cold when it's very hot, as it was during our week with the
In addition there's plenty of comfort and convenience kit such as one-shot power
windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, audible rear parking sensors and a rear-view
camera, electric park brake, powerfold door mirrors, drive-away auto locking,
keyless locking and start (with an evocative glowing red Start-Stop Engine toggle
switch), cruise control, speed limiter, auto-tilt door mirror on reversing (passenger
side), supplementary touchpad entry for the infotainment system immediately
behind the Steptronic selector lever (with Manual/Sport operation but a sideways
nudge away), auto-dipping headlights, a two-tier front armrest with dedicated
room to park your smartphone, tyre pressure monitoring, ambient lighting, tinted
glass, and more.
Those travelling in the well-shaped back seats are also pampered, with easy
entry and exit and, courtesy of good-sized windows and plenty of space between
the front seats, clear views out. A fist of headroom (even for somebody occupying
the middle bench), decent foot- and knee-room and relaxing backrest angles along
with rear cabin air vents all add to the comfort.
Plus there are deep magazine pockets, bottle-holding door pockets and a wide
drop-down central armrest with pop-up cupholders as well as damped 'grabs' for
those who like to indulge in a spot of strap-hanging. Yet another good point:
the black mesh sunblind for the rear glass roof helpfully opens forwards rather
than rearwards, so you can keep the sun out of your eyes while still taking
in some rays.
ever have thought that there could be pleasure in just opening a boot? Well,
opening the Clubman's is enjoyable every time you do it! Plip the smart key
and the right-hand tail door springs fully open; plip again and the nearside
one does the same. It's almost as good as watching the hood on an Audi Cabriolet
closing on the fly at 25mph.
to the wide, deep, tall and regular-sided boot couldn't be easier; and with
a load sill just above knee height, packing and unpacking its 360 litres is
a lightweight chore.
are a number of
likeable and light-hearted
touches, such as the
very magnified winged
MINI badge thats
projected onto the
ground from below the
door mirrors when you
unlock at night and
which reminds you of the
they use in Gotham City
to summon Batman...
The rear seatbacks are split 40:20:40 so offer plenty of versatility when it
comes to 'carry-through' items. Fold down all three and the boot becomes a practical
Usefully, the rear backrests can be set to totally upright to maximise space
when carrying cases of wine (as one does) or other boxy items. Also useful are
the open bins with stretchy net fronts recessed into the boot sides; equally
handy but not at all expected are the door bins in both boot doors.
Lift the end section of the boot floor and you'll discover more storage in the
shape of a deep, lined compartment. You can also divide up the boot/cargo bay
by positioning the partly-folded boot floor at 45-degrees and in the process
gain an extra six inches of boot height.
Overall it's a well-thought-out, multi-configurable cargo space, and yes, of
course there are bag holders, tie-down eyelets, and boot lights. The rear privacy
glass (to the rear side windows and boot doors) is also a good thing when you're
using the Clubman for a spot of load-lugging.
There are also a number of likeable and light-hearted touches such as the very
magnified winged MINI badge that's projected onto the ground from below the
door mirrors when you unlock at night and which reminds you of the searchlight
projection they use in Gotham City to summon Batman; and then there's the pulsing
red light atop the shark-fin antenna that let's you know your Clubman is safely
locked up. Also deserving of a mention are the rear wash/wipes so essential
for our wet British climate there's one on each tail door.
Backing Britain doesn't have to be a reason for buying a MINI because, in the
case of the entertaining-to-drive Clubman mini-estate, the combination of a
powerful and refined turbodiesel, paddle-shifting autobox and four-wheel drive
puts the 'fun' firmly into function. ~ MotorBar
MINI Clubman Cooper SD ALL4 Steptronic
Maximum speed: 138mph | 0-62mph: 7.2 seconds | Test Average: 48.9mpg
Power: 187bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2: 126g/km