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Car group tests

MINI Clubman vs Volkswagen Golf vs Volvo V40

New ‘six-door’ MINI Clubman is more practical than ever – so can it beat conventional hatches from VW and Volvo?

It’s fair to say that BMW-owned MINI has ignored the conventional class sectors when it’s launched new models. The standard hatch has grown in size over the years, but the British brand has offered different bodystyles for buyers looking for yet more practicality.

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Take the Clubman, for example. The original model added a longer tail, double rear doors and a second half door on one side, so it had some quirky charm to go with its extra versatility. Now, the second-generation version is based on the five-door hatch, and is technically a six-door model. With such an unconventional layout, the Clubman maintains the tradition of fitting outside class boundaries, but that hasn’t stopped us finding two rivals for its first test.

The VW Golf is pretty sensible in comparison, but it has similar boot space, while the 2.0 TDI diesel offers the same power as the Cooper D. Our second competitor is the Volvo V40. This is another hatch that is led by design, while again diesel power brings decent efficiency. Can the Clubman serve up a better mix of style, practicality and efficiency than either rival?

Head to head

Accessibility

The Clubman’s double rear doors can be hard to open in tight spots. What’s more, the extended roofline means you have to stoop slightly to reach in, and you could bang your head if you’re not careful. Still, back seat access is good; the MINI has longer doors than the hatchback, so accessis just as easy as in the Golf.

Personalisation

There’s a raft of options on the Clubman, including a variety of wheel designs, contrast roof colours and interior upgrades. Our car’s illuminated door trims add colour to the cabin at night. There are fewer options on the VW and Volvo, although the latter does have a range of alloys.

Business costs

The MINI and VW are more expensive to run as company cars than the Volvo. Its 99g/km emissions mean higher-rate taxpayers will face an annual Benefit In Kind bill of £1,623; the Clubman costs £1,688 a year and the Golf £1,776.

Verdict

1st place: Volkswagen Golf

In some ways it’s a sensible choice, but the Golf’s depth of talent is something these two rivals struggle to match. The 2.0 TDI is an excellent performer, with a great mix of power and economy, while the chassis delivers a combination of sharp handling and cruising comfort that makes it hard to beat. The new Match Edition adds great value for money to the mix, too.

2nd place: MINI Clubman

There’s no denying that the Clubman is the most practical new-generation MINI, thanks to its bigger boot and rear space, but it’s not without its flaws. The looks are more awkward than ever, while the double back doors are more a talking point than useful. Still, if you want to stand out from the crowd, and want an efficient yet sporty-handling family car, it ticks the boxes. 

3rd place: Volvo V40

Third place is no slight on the V40, because it still has plenty going for it. The cabin is refreshingly modern, and the low-emission D3 engine makes it an attractive company car. However, it’s not the most spacious choice, and is poorly equipped and expensive to buy. It’s quite relaxing to drive, though, and the raft of safety kit isn’t to be sniffed at.

Figures

 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI (150) Match EditionMINI Cooper D ClubmanVolvo V40 D3 SE
On the road price/total as tested£23,425/£23,425£22,245/£30,160£23,770/£30,000
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£11,455/48.9%£8,520/38.3%£10,005/42.3%
Depreciation£11,970£13,725£13,715
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£888/£1,776£844/£1,688£806/£1,613
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,290/£2,151£1,207/£2,012£1,258/£2,097
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost16/£562/B/£2018/£513/B/£2021/£537/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2yrs)£299 (5yrs/50k)£821 (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase4,255/2,637mm4,253/2,670mm4,369/2,647mm
Height/width1,452/1,799mm1,441/1,800mm1,420/1,857mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,968cc4cyl in-line/1,995cc4cyl in-line/1,969cc
Peak power/revs148/3,500 bhp/rpm148/4,000 bhp/rpm148/3,750 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs320/1,750 Nm/rpm330/1,750 Nm/rpm320/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/space saver48 litres/£12062 litres/£150
Boot capacity (seats up/down)380/1,270 litres360/1,250 litres335/1,032 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,354/506/1,800kg1,320/530/1,300kg1,561/419/1,500kg
Turning circle10.9 metres11.0 metres10.8 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60k)/3yrs3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs3yrs (60k)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/223Variable/14818k miles (1yr)/109 
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.22nd/30th16th/10th17th/22nd
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars94/89/65/5 (2012)79/73/66/4 (hatch)98/75/88/5 (2012)
    
0-60/30-70mph8.8/7.9 secs (wet)9.9/8.6 secs (wet)9.4/8.4 secs (wet)
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.7/6.3 secs3.8/5.4 secs3.5/5.4 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th8.5/10.4 secs7.5/10.0 secs8.2/11.0 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph134mph/1,800rpm132mph/1,950rpm130mph/1,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph54.9/39.1/10.7m (wet)57.7/45.0/10.3m (wet)60.7/43.8/11.1m (wet)
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph69/49/58/65dB70/47/57/67dB66/47/57/64dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range46.5/10.2/511 miles49.7/10.9/525 miles47.7/10.5/651 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined56.5/78.5/68.9mpg58.9/76.3/68.9mpg64.2/80.7/74.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined12.4/17.3/15.2mpl13.0/16.8/15.2mpl14.1/17.8/16.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket163/106g/km/19%152/109g/km/19%159/99g/km/17%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/yes/£165Six/yes/£320/£310Eight/yes/£325/£375
Auto box/stability ctrl/adaptive cruise£1,415/yes/yes£1,595/yes/£810£1,485/yes/£1,900*
Climate control/leather/heated seats£415/£2,115/yes£460/£1,550/£270Yes/£900/£500*
Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go£540/£820/£365£515/£735 (LED)/£350£550/£1,350/£550
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes£800/yes/yes/yes

How can VW win after 'dieselgate'?

With diesels featuring VW's 'defeat device' leaving question marks over emissions tests and news that UK buyers are being denied compensation, can the Golf still claim a road test win?

Ignore the brands recent troubles, and the evergreen hatch is still a great car - few family models have such a breadth of talent. More importantly, in a recent German independent study of eight diesels in partnership with UK specialist Emissions Analytics, the latest Euro6 Golf 2.0 TDI was by far the least polluting car. Perhaps there's light at the end of the tunnel for the VW.

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