What does a new trim level add to the estate?
If you buy a Mini then you almost certainly buy some personalisation to go with it. About 80 per cent of owners have gone for the Chili Pack, which adds 17-inch alloys, mood lighting in the cabin and more. Mini has obviously noticed this, and has come up with another pack, this time the Rat Pack – sorry, the Black Pack.
Really, what Mini has done is to gather up some optional items and put them all together, which means you can buy them for £700 rather than the £900 they would have cost separately. That gives you some of the black stuff, with black 17-inch wheels, black bonnet stripes and piano black trim in the cabin.
Mini Cooper Black Pack Clubman
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Torque: 162lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1375kg
Top speed: 127mph
Economy: 55.4mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 118g/km, 22%
These embellishments, you may be surprised to hear, haven’t knocked any time off the 9.1-second dash to 62mph nor added an iota to the 127mph top speed. All other numbers stay stubbornly the same. Which is a surprise – those bonnet stripes ought to be good for another few miles per hour surely?
On the other hand, the Mini Cooper Clubman remains the car it is, with a chirpy 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine that delivers all you really need, even if delivery is a tough gruff at the top end. Actually, it doesn’t feel that refined but nor does the rest of the car, with quite a lot of noise intruding into the cabin.
The cabin is one of the strengths, enhanced now with that piano black splashed about the place. It’s a place full of character and energy, even if it’s not as sophisticated or premium as some of the competitors like the Audi A3 Sportback or BMW 1 Series.
Handling is not a particular strong point. The brief to make this biggish car handle like a go-kart was the wrong brief really, so it does dart about the place but you pay the price of a over-firm ride and a general handling package that could prove tiring over long distances. But the steering is well weighted, the manual gearbox is great, better than the automatic, and you can have some fun with the driving experience.
And, of course, with the Black Pack you can stand out even more from the madding crowd. Is that worth £700? It might well be to many owners. Mini expects about 10 per cent of new buyers to opt for the Black Pack so, actually, you won’t stand out from the crowd that much after all.