It looks as though a super-talented designer were trying to please a millionaire’s 12-year-old People talk about “iconic styling” and I’ve finally worked out what it means: a car that looks like itself, and no other car, and has done for a long time. It must wax and wane, from compliment to insult, the way the popularity of a thing will when it makes not-changing its USP. Certainly, the Mini Clubman has its signature snout, but there is no way to adjudicate on whether it’s chic or twee: that would depend on your mood. The most distinctive of all the Clubman’s idiosyncrasies is that back end, with the barn door-style opening. It’s cute, like a wendy house made of car, but it is the devil to park. There you are, imagining yourself in a miniature vehicle, yet you can’t get into a space you’d have had a shot at in a Passat. And the boot is quite high, so it’s not the easiest fit for anything heavy or bulky. It has the heft and width of a BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, because that’s essentially what it is: some theorise that it’s an entry-level beemer, in a cunning disguise, from a firm that doesn’t want to diminish the big-boy brand with an affordable way in. The evidence against this theory is that it’s not actually much cheaper, and I prefer the notion that it’s for a would-be BMW owner who doesn’t yet want to grow up.
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