Fastest Mini Clubman requires a change of pants
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Can I ask you what you’re wearing? Not in a sleazy way. I’m genuinely interested. Specifically, let’s talk about your jeans. If you are anything like me, when I get a pair of jeans that work, I stick to them. I will wear them most days and when they need replacing I will go on a quest to find exactly the same pair again. The same cut, the same colour, from the same shop.
We humans, we like habits. We love the familiar. But the comfortable can turn into monotony.
So, maybe that’s how we should start the new decade. Instead of slipping into the same old routines, let’s kick off with some panache, some flair… some fun.
Let’s start with pants. Go buy a pair of pants that would make Liberace blush. I don’t care if they have giant flares or pink pussycats on them. Just try something new. Then move onto your sunglasses. I challenge you to purchase a pair of glasses that even Elton John would think were a step too far.
Now let’s work on your car. Is your car as dreary as your corduroy trousers? Is it as boring as grey zip-up shoes? ’Cos over the summer break I had the most enjoyable car I’ve driven in a long time: the Mini Clubman. You know the one: doors at the back that look like they’re designed to slide a coffin through.
My loaner was anything but a lumbering hearse. It was the John Cooper Works (JCW) version. It was wild. It was fun; it made me grin from ear-to-ear like a childish fool.
It was a white pearl with a giant red racing stripe. It looked great. And as I’m sure you are well aware with Mini, you can choose just about any colour and option package you like.
You can be flamboyant and have a car that doesn’t look like everyone else’s. It also gives people that have no taste the chance to muck it up royally. But that’s cool too; I think I would rather have no taste than be boring.
I digress. This thing howls. It rips around like a cat with its tail on fire. The 2.0-litre turbo makes 225kW. That’s crazy power.
Think back a few years to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen: that was heralded as a race-bred road car and was considered to be ridiculously fast. And it only made 206kW. This AWD Mini Clubman will have you at 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. This little family ferry is a genuine rocket ship.
And it sounds great. Its snarls are barks in sports mode. In economy it turns itself into a fuel-saving computer game. And at night the lights inside the car change colour. You move from green to orange to red and to purple. It reminded me of Toni Street’s flash spa pool.
The gearbox is fun, too. I thought it was some kind of double-clutch system. It was only when I read the spec sheet that I found it was a just an automatic transmission. It gives you plenty of control if you flick it to manual.
But the really surprising thing is how it accelerates between gears. Normally when you stomp on the throttle, the power will build and when you change, it falls away. In this car when you change gear, the engine falls right back into the maximum torque range and it surges with every change.
I love this car. This is the first car I’ve had in a long time that I have made excuses to drive. I found I was making completely pointless trips just to go for a blast. And so was my partner. She was hooning all over the show and coming back with a giant grin. She even burst out with “I feel like a new person”. Although that was probably because when she was driving it, it was the only time of the day she wasn’t looking after our demanding one-year-old boy.
The only catch is that the happiness starts at $73,200. Mine was $77,900. And if that seems outrageous have you considered buying a new pair of jeans?