Having rapidly shaken itself out of its initial torpor, our Mini Cooper D Clubvan is now giving ample proof of its ability to get a shift on, as Steve Banner discovers
A recent high-speed dash from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire to Heathrow demonstrated the Clubvan’s ability to accelerate strongly past slower-moving traffic and maintain the maximum legal motorway speed for mile after mile. If we had a problem it was reining in the little vehicle, although the fact that the speed is displayed digitally on the rev counter just above the steering column as well as on that big, retro-style dial in the middle of the dashboard helped ensure we didn't go too crazy.
Something else that encouraged us to keep our speed down is the suspension: or lack thereof. Hit a pothole at anything much above 30mph and you know about it as the van shakes and your fillings rattle.
On the other hand the handling just seems to get better and better, with plenty of feedback through the, very direct, steering.
Fuel economy continues to average approximately 52mpg compared with a claimed 72.4mpg. Hopefully that figure will improve in the coming months.
Though of modest size, Clubvan's 0.86cu/m cargo area has happily swallowed boxes of stationary, black bin bags full of clothing destined for the charity shops and assorted pieces of luggage. Everything has been loaded through the twin rear doors: the narrow loading door (no bigger that a flap in reality) positioned on the offside of the cargo body is of little or no practical use and would be of no more assistance if it were mounted (as it should be) on the nearside.
We have removed the luggage net, rolled it up and popped it behind the driver's seat. It is of little help when it comes to keeping most of the loads we carry in place.
What might eventually be of use though are the two 12v power points mounted one above the other on the cargo area's nearside close to the back door.
The bulkhead is continuing to rattle - the typical van driver's approach of thumping it hard a couple of times to make it stop has failed to work - so we are continuing to drown it out by turning up the volume on the high-quality DAB digital radio. However the distracting reflection thrown up by that big speedometer has vanished: along with the sunshine.
The colder weather has already prompted us to resort to the optional heated seats on one or two occasions. They might seem like a waste of cash in the summer: but at this time of year they feel like money well spent.