DT Garage: We've pimped our Mini Clubman JCW for family life

Because every 300hp hot hatch needs a roof box

4w ago
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It's well known that you can customise Minis more than pretty much any other car on sale – certainly more than any sub-£40k car. Want a Union Jack roof? Sure. Fancy brown seats? Check. Luminous yellow paint? Absolutely… if you pick the convertible.

Since we've been living with our Thunder Grey Clubman John Cooper Works (JCW), we've hankered for a bit of that personalisation action – so we turned to the huge Mini accessories catalogue to jus things up a bit. Because a 4.9-second 0-62mph time only entertains the family for so long before they shout at you.

We've tried to add a bit more practicality to the Clubman, as well as proofing it against the incalculable menace of young children. Here's how we got on, using a bunch of accessories that anyone can grab from their local Mini retailer.

Let's take it to the roof

It's fair to say we've been surprised just how much we've managed to pack into the Clubman's 360-litre boot. It's not the biggest boot space ever (the Clubman isn't a massive thing despite its estate-car looks), but even with a three-month-old baby and a sassy-as-hell two-year-old in my family, we've never actually totally filled the boot.

That said, things do get a bit tight when we need to cart around a huge buggy, so a roof box was first on our list of mods. Mini makes a fully branded gloss-black roof box for the Clubman, and it works a charm. At £320 it's not horrendously expensive, and it's designed to fit in with the lines of the Clubman.

We do love a roof box

We do love a roof box

You need to fit the £189 roof bars first, which attaches using simple hand wheels which work like torque wrenches, clicking when they're fully clamped to the Clubman's roof rails. You'll need a tape measure to position the roof rack correctly, but all the measurements are printed under the lockable covers at the end of each of the cross-bars, so you don't need to refer to a manual each time you fit them. Handy.

With those in place it's a simple case of bolting the roof box onto the rails. If you're reasonably tall you can do this single handed, but otherwise you'll want a mate to help you hoist the roof box into place. The roof box adds a whopping 320 litres and 50kg to your carrying capacity, and you can open it from either side thanks to a funky hinge mechanism, so you don't have to factor it into your parking strategy. We all have parking strategies, right? It opens using a simple key which you can just add to your car keyring.

The roof box opens from either side, with locks on both edges

The roof box opens from either side, with locks on both edges

For £509, we effectively doubled our ability to haul nappies across the country. Happy days. Oh, and you can even get a cool set of racing stripe decals for the roof box if the plain black isn't your bag. We think it looks awesome as is – more 306hp hot hatches need roof boxes.

Oh god how do children get so muddy

If you're unfortunate enough to have procreated, you'll know how young kids have an incredible ability to en-filthen just about anything they come into contact with. Cars are no different. Seat backs, carpets and even boot floors all feel the wrath of muddy wellies and snotty fingers.

My Clubman's standard carpet floor mats did a decent enough job, but they were quickly becoming somewhat saturated with mud, sand, general filth and oh-god-is-that-cat-poo.

The leg for my toddler's car seat base dents carpet mats – the rubber mats shrug it off

The leg for my toddler's car seat base dents carpet mats – the rubber mats shrug it off

With that in mind, we fitted a full set of Mini's all-weather floor mats. These are rubberised mats that replace the existing mats. They all fit perfectly, and – unlike most aftermarket rubber mats – they look really good – complete with a diamond design and a shiny metallic Mini badge. They stay in place perfectly thanks to large velcro fittings, and the driver's mat doesn't move about under your feet when you're driving.

These Mini badges are a nice touch on each of the all-weather mats

These Mini badges are a nice touch on each of the all-weather mats

Perhaps the biggest area in need of attention in our Clubman was the boot floor. My eldest daughter loves riding her balance bike and we take it everywhere with us. Predictably, she hasn't yet learnt to distinguish normal muddy paths from steaming fresh cow pats. So her bike is a bit mucky, and it just gets thrown in the boot at the end of every countryside walk.

Thankfully Mini makes a boot lining mat that matches the all-weather floor mats, and – again – it fits really well and can easily be pulled out for a clean with a hose.

Yes, I wish I'd got the boot liner at the start of my tenure with the Clubman…

Yes, I wish I'd got the boot liner at the start of my tenure with the Clubman…

Like the floor mats, it has a cool Mini badge and feels oddly posh for such a functional bit of kit. We like it a lot – the whole set of floor mats and the boot mat cost £115 if bought as a mat pack. Bought separately they cost £149.62, so it's worthwhile getting the whole set together.

What else should we have done?

As it stands, our Clubman JCW feels pretty much ready for anything – we've given ourselves loads more luggage space and the diddy estate is doing an even better job of withstanding the abuse of our little darlings.

Find out how we've got on living with the Clubman JCW for the past seven months in our final update with the car – coming soon.

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