MINI Cooper S Clubman 1.6, Volvo C30 T5 R-Design Review
Haute Hatch

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
21 Feb 2010

The crown for the most stylish lifestyle hatchback heats up with the introduction of an updated Volvo C30. We pit the tweaked Swede against the quirky Mini Clubman to find out which is the better 'stylized' hatchback.

Style machines

Car manufacturers would like to think that their new niche models don't have a competitor whenever they introduce them. The Mini Clubman and Volvo C30 are cases in point.

Depends on how you see it, the Clubman can be a small estate, a lengthened version of a small hatchback or even a coupe for that matter. We seriously can't think of any direct rival for the Clubman but a quick glance through the local price lists will reveal that there are several other hatchback/coupe hybrids that are about similarly or closely priced as the Clubman, one of which is the Volvo C30.

Just like the Clubman, the Swede offers a distinct style that is mostly missing among small cars. Cars are more than just style of course, so how does the updated version of the Volvo stack against the new Mini in all aspects?

The Clubman is more than just a stretched version of the standard Mini. Yes, the friendly nose is still that familiar one that has wowed many since its second rebirth back in 2006 but everything aft of the front doors are new and bespoke to the Clubman. The wheelbase has been extended by 8cm and there's now a rear hinged suicide door called the Clubdoor on the right side for easier ingress and egress to the rear. Two other doors called the Splitdoor are used to access the luggage compartment, thus making the Clubman a five-door hatchback - but not like the usual garden-variety kind that we're all so familiar with.

The Clubdoor might seem like a good idea at first but it is somewhat flawed in practice. On left-hand drive cars, the Clubdoor will open kerbside but it isn't the case with right-hand drive cars. Mini cites high costs to re engineer the whole body shell as the reason why they couldn't reposition the door for right-hand drive models. Well, they could have just incorporated the doors on either side of the car right from the off. How hard can that be? But then again, that wouldn't make it as quirky as it is now.

The side-hinged Splitdoor offers no benefits in terms of practicality too but it does give the car character and is a reference to the original Traveler/Clubman. This is after all a lifestyle item and a design exercise rather than a practical workhorse. As with the standard Mini, the Clubman offers almost limitless customizations outside and in - you not only can specify the colour of the roof but the pillar that surrounds the tail lamps as well.

In overall concept, the Volvo C30 is more conventional - it features a three-door body style that we're all familiar with. In terms of design and looks though, the C30 is no less striking than the Clubman, especially at the rear. Inspired by the 480ES, the unique looking rear features a glass hatch that is surrounded by prominent tail lamps that extend up the C-pillars.

The recently updated C30 features a new nose treatment that is shared with the upcoming S60 and the recently facelifted C70. The headlamps have a new upswept profile while the reshaped radiator grille feature honeycomb style inserts rather that the previous egg crate ones. Volvo's designers have also given the C30 a semi-SUV look with aluminium look fog lamp surrounds, mock rear underbody skid plates and black wheel arch extensions. The C30 also features contemporary Volvo design cues like the wide haunches below the window line.

It's all very purposeful but we reckon the new white 17-inch alloys look daft on an orange car - you can specify for more conventional silver wheels if desired. All in all, the C30's relatively compact proportions and soft lines give it a slightly more feminine feel than the Clubman here.


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Engine Capacity 1598cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Bore x Stroke (77 x 85.8)mm
Power 175bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 240Nm @ 5000rpm
Power to Weight 142.3 bhp per ton


Acceleration 7.8s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 219 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 14.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type FF


Body Type 3 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3958 x 1683 x 1432) mm
Wheelbase 2547 mm
Turning Circle 11 metres
Kerb Weight 1230 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 50 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs


Engine Capacity 2521cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 5
Bore x Stroke (83.0 x 93.2)mm
Power 230bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 320Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 158.5 bhp per ton


Acceleration 7.1s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 235 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 11.0 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 5 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type FF


Body Type 3 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(4252 x 1782 x 1447) mm
Wheelbase 2640 mm
Turning Circle 11.1 metres
Kerb Weight 1451 kg
Boot Capacity 233 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 62 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs