Blog: Mini Clubman launch
Dave Leggett | 25 September 2007
Poor old Mr Golding didn't make it to Farnborough for the Aberdeen flight yesterday, as he got stuck in a gridlocked M25 (heavy Monday morning traffic, pouring rain and a jackknifed artic all came together - there were several no-shows, not just Rob). Instead, I drove with Julian Rendell (writes for Autocar, AutoWeek and just-auto) and there was a kind of poetic justice in that as we drove together in Barcelona on New Mini Mk II.
We got horribly lost back then. That wouldn't happen this time would it? Actually, we did have a couple of minor navigational incidents but nothing too serious.
What about the car? Looks like a hit for Mini - hard to see it failing. You pay a premium over the hatchback for 8cm of extra leg room and a little bit (and I mean little) more luggage space, but I expect there will be no shortage of takers. Handling was still very Mini - but you are carrying 80kg more weight. Julian reckoned you could tell that the Clubmans weren't quite as nimble as the hatchbacks, but the ordinary punter probably won't detect much, if any, difference.
The driving route did take us into the Cairngorms - very picturesque. Also, drove past a few rivers that looked good for a spot of fly fishing. Chilly up there, though. Must be a month ahead, compared to south of England, in the descent to winter. Single malt went down very well last night and kept the cold at bay. Flight out was a wee bit bumpy - we dodged a tornado, I believe. Hotel was very good, but I have no great urge to visit the city of Aberdeen again. Grey granite buildings looked very grey in the rain this morning.
There was a feeling of being in a very functional part of the world (Aberdeen serves the North Sea oil industry). But, as I say, countryside around was beautiful in places (vast U-shaped valleys caused by glaciation and the Cairngorms). Some great driving roads.
BMW/Mini people all very chatty and upbeat - not surprising I guess.
Oliver Zipse, Mini Oxford plant director, was a very friendly and open bloke - he's been around a bit and did a stint at BMW's Rosslyn plant in South Africa. We had a good chat over lunch yesterday about the industry in general and I'll be going back to interview him for just-auto in the future.
Oh, and they speak with nice accents up there in the north of Scotland. But the 'tiger balls' on the tray of appetisers were actually 'haggis balls'. I just misheard.
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