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AFTER a month of body massaging back at MINI, I was lucky that the return of my  MINI Clubman Cooper D long-termer, coincided with a long bank holiday drive to see a band in Manchester to test out the sat-nav, cruise control and economy.

This was a bit of a test for the big MINI, as I’d not undertaken such a long trip – I also had my wife on board too. I shouldn’t have worried, as apart from some stop/start driving due to closed carriageways – the MINI was almost the perfect car for the trip!

Why only almost, well again the ride on those optional 18-inch alloys continues to infuriate! General refinement is probably better than any other model MINI produce, but the fidgety ride unsettles. It is no better on the motorway, but cambers still upset the MINI.

Since the MINI Clubman Cooper D has been in my possession, I’ve also done a European road trip in the more powerful all-auto Cooper SD Clubman with ALL4 all-wheel drive and it was much more comfortable and settled on smaller 17-inch wheels.

The only other gripe on our Manchester road trip, sadly also revolved around the wheels – but this time how vulnerable those Star Spoke alloys are. Yes, they might look the part, but one had already been kerbed before I took ownership.

MINI Clubman Cooper D

Annoying: scuffed wheel

Anyway, despite successfully negotiating the concrete curbs of a Manchester multi-storey, with just 20 miles from home I managed to grind all of the spokes on a low curb, trying to avoid a Golf that had pulled out on me!

I’m pleased to say the low profile tyre wasn’t torn, but it looked a mess and was an unhappy end to a fun weekend! Thankfully, my local MINI dealer was able to make it beautiful again for just £60.

What about the positives? Well the optional Media navigation XL sat-nav system came to our rescue, giving us simple ‘set and forget’ routes into and out of Manchester. I was also pleasantly surprised at the level of detail of the buildings of Manchester on the mapping.

MINI Clubman Cooper D

Sat-nav impresses

Why does the trip home always seem more tiring than the way there on a long trip? I’ve no idea, but the adaptive Cruise control, part of the optional Driving Assistant pack, turned out to be my friend, accelerating and braking to keep up with the other traffic on the way home.

Shame then, that the system failed at one point, I believe because of the heavy, driving rain!

Our trip to Manchester further proved the frugal nature of this car, as having covered over 440 miles, our average mpg for the trip was around 45mpg. This meant I didn’t need to make a trip to the pumps for another couple of days.

I’m looking forward to trying to better the fuel economy and as always, keep the Clubman damage free!

MINI Clubman Cooper D

Cruise control takes the stress out of long motorway runs

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