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How I ended up buying a Cooper S Clubman instead of the BMW M2

With the JCW Exhaust and remap, the car really came into its own and was a hoot to drive.

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Introduction and Story of 'Why This Car?'

After selling my last car (Mini Cooper S JCW), I found myself in a bit of a pickle. This was just after the first wave of COVID, and the bonkers second-hand car market was beginning to take shape. Since I was in search of a fun weekend and road trip car, there was no rush. I wanted to explore the available options in the market.

Unfortunately, after six months of searching, my wife grew tired of me 'borrowing' her car and issued an ultimatum. Buy a car for myself ASAP or start taking an Uber to get around. Fortunately, around the same time, I came across a massive ad in the newspaper for the first-ever 'BMW Auction' of their fleet cars. Many of these were corporate/company cars that hadn't been abused like media cars. It was the first time BMW officially conducted an event like this, and I noticed they had set steep fees to avoid unnecessary bids. Excited, I became a proxy bidder for several out-of-town friends who wanted me to check out the cars they were interested in.

Loaner Clubman 'Indian Summer Red' Edition that I had briefly

I want to emphasize that during this time, I indeed visited various popular used car dealers in Delhi NCR specializing in exotics. Needless to say, I was thoroughly offended by the way they conducted their business. The cars were repaired at non-authorized centers, they used fake or used parts to fix issues, and old tires (pre-COVID stock) were installed. Additionally, the practice of accepting cash became rampant. For example, a 70 lakh rupee car could be paid with 20 lakhs in cash and 50 in white. This is also one of the significant reasons why used cars cost as much as new ones, as people with black money can easily purchase these cars without scrutiny.

Needless to say, I was not prepared to shell out my hard-earned money to exotic wheeler dealers. When I confronted them about these issues, there was no satisfactory response. I distinctly remember a day when I went with my chequebook to finalize a deal on a Porsche 718 Cayman (the dealer had 4-5 of them in stock), but I returned empty-handed. It didn't make sense for me to pay around 75 lakhs for a '16 or '17 718. I understand these are going for even more now that Porsche has increased the prices

A picture of a friends car (unrelated) Cayman remains a dream!

Fast forward to auction day. I had gone with the intention of bidding on a gorgeous Hockenheim Silver M2 Competition. I was worried about closing the deal since there was only one M2 on sale, and I was sure that interest would be high. Apart from this, I checked out several other cars in detail for friends, such as the M5, X4M (the only one in India), X4, Mini Cooper S, and Mini Countryman, to name a few.

Purchase Experience

It's funny how things conspired. There was a bunch of really gorgeous-looking Clubmans parked next to the M2. I had always loved this car but had never seriously considered it. Also, I had a sinking feeling that my bid would likely be too low for the M2, so I decided to check out these Clubmans for myself. Out of the three cars there, one was the latest and greatest 'Indian Summer Red' edition model with all the bells and whistles, unregistered, which I loved but didn't really like its interior. I had one of these briefly, and the 18-inch rims with low-profile runflats were a bad idea. So, I turned my attention to the other two. There was one with 5000 mileage and another one with 15000. I sat in the car, and it was loaded to the gills: Harmon Kardon Audio, gorgeous Indigo Dakota leather seats, Pano Roof, HUD, Electric seats, and finally, wireless CarPlay, which literally sealed the deal for me.

Always a great experience at Bird Auto!

I immediately returned with my wife in tow for the second day of the auction, showed her a few cars I was interested in, and kept the Clubman for last. She instantly loved the car, and I placed the bid. Luckily, BMW contacted me a little while later, informing me that I had won the bid, and my preferred dealer, 'Bird Auto,' would take care of the purchase responsibilities. Thanks to my familiarity with the dealer, the process was extremely smooth. I got the car financed by Mini Financial Services (again) and received the delivery on the day I wanted. Bird Auto is definitely the go-to dealer if you own a BMW, leagues better than the other dealers in NCR, in my opinion.

Spec, Factory Options & Add-ons

After winning the car, I realized it was a limited edition 'Pure Burgundy' edition that came with every option ticked. Initially, I wasn't in love with the burgundy color as it looked dull and faded. My opinion changed after paint correction and detailing; boy, it looked amazing, but I'll let the pictures do the talking. I went with Dazzle Detailers, and they really did a fabulous job on the car. The car has absolutely gorgeous ambient lighting that keeps shifting between colours in the night on the doors.

Here are the notable options on the car:

  • HUD
  • Harman Kardon Audio
  • Dakota Leather Seats (very soft and nice feeling, unlike regular leather) in indigo
  • Fully Electric seats (the only Mini that gets them)
  • Wireless CarPlay

Full options list of the car

Day-to-Day Life with the Clubman

I feel Clubman looks best from the ride or rear 3/4

Honestly, the Clubman really surprised us with its usefulness and practicality in day-to-day life. The car was low but didn't struggle over speed breakers. The space in the back was super comfortable for two people; in fact, it was luxurious. The space inside versus the footprint of the car outside was fantastic. It was easy to park, but I would have preferred front parking sensors as well.

City Mileage: 8-10

Highway Mileage: 13-15

Likes:

  • Comfortable and luxurious experience with the pep of a Mini
  • Stands out; station wagons aren't common in India at all
  • Remote opening the rear boot never gets old; the split tailgate blows mall watchmen's minds. I've had so many looks with it, and the best part is you don't have to open both doors; you can just open one and use it.
  • A crazy amount of accessories available for it, check out this catalog attached at the end of this post

Dislikes:

  • AC could have cooled better, with the glass all around and four occupants and a dog in the car, we had a tough time during a peak summer drive from Delhi to Chandigarh
  • Not offered in AWD or JCW trims in India
  • Not possible to get choice in colour or options, only pre configured cars. Likely due to volume being extremely low
  • Expensive at retail price

Styling

When the car came stock, I wasn't too happy with the chrome bits, and during the course of my ownership, got rid of them one by one. Initially, I experimented with a wrap on the chrome grill, headlight surrounds, etc., and really loved the black look. I decided to get them painted. To anyone considering trying the 'shadow line' look on their cars, wraps are a cheap and easy way to know if you'll like it. I eventually got the blacked-out version of the badging as well and only kept the JCW badge in chrome as a nice contrast element. Few other items like side indicators were also swapped to a smoked version, and I am very proud of the final look. What do you think?

Blacking it out slowly, post a detailing session at Dazzle

Build Quality

Solid machine, never gave me trouble

Build, fit, and finish are the best for any Mini and a notch above typical F-gen BMW quality, in my opinion. The center console was rock-solid soft-touch rubber-type material, extending to the doors, controls, and anything you would touch. Full marks here! There was minimal wind noise and NVH experienced, further enhancing the luxury feel of the car.

Performance

With the JCW Exhaust and remap, the car really came into its own and was a hoot to drive. Because this car didn't have paddles (go figure), I had a lot of fun using the center gear lever (which is decently tall and chunky) to shift up and down. The car never felt lacking for power and sounded amazing with the JCW exhaust crackles. This car is based on the 2 series tourer and came with ZF8, which is a legendary box and was decently quick for the car.

The suspension is on the softer side, but the ride was plush and compliant on both good and bad roads. The car is not a Cooper S hatch and doesn't like tight quick turns but prefers long swooping corners at good speeds.

Handling is good for the car, but again, it's not a Cooper S. To enjoy this car, you need to give smoother inputs, irrespective of the speeds you are doing, and it rewards you. There is body roll when making fast direction changes.

Brakes were great, and even with spirited driving, they never felt lacking. Engine cooling was also great, and the car never struggled with high ambient temperatures. The steering was neutral(ish) and offered a good driving feel, even though feedback was muted a bit.

Continue reading BHPian quickdraw's review for more insights and information.

 
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