Jun 29, 2015
The new MINI Clubman has been revealed, further expanding the Mk3 MINI range.
Stretching the MINI identity in every sense, the Clubman is a 6-door hatchback aiming at C-segment competitors like the Ford Focus and VW Golf, but offering the unique characteristics and stylings of MINI. Very close in execution??to the Clubman concept shown at Geneva last year, the Clubman now features conventional rear doors on both sides, with the inimitable twin rear doors retained.
Gaining 100mm in wheelbase over the 5-door MINI hatchback, the Clubman is a full 270mm longer and 73mm wider than its??hatchback sibling. This brings notable benefits to interior space. The Clubman is fully a 5-seat car, with a 360 litre boot (a Ford Focus offers 316 litres; a VW Golf 380). What the Clubman gains in size it loses in aesthetics, with some proportions and angles that might be described as challenging. The giant horizontal rear light clusters a break from the traditional vertical?? are suffocated by a very busy rear-end. If a badge delete option is offered, as with other MINI models, we suggest you tick that box.
The Clubman will come in the typical three flavours: Cooper, Cooper D, and Cooper S (shown here), with the engines shared with its hatchback stablemates. Power outputs range from 136hp/220Nm for the Cooper, with the range-topping S??offering 192hp and 280Nm. The Cooper D promises the highest efficiency metrics??(68.9mpg combined; 109g/km CO2) and the??highest torque figure, 330Nm. As well as a six-speed manual, the Clubman has an all-new Steptronic eight-speed automatic transmission, replacing the previous six-speed auto unit. Expect this gearbox to be offered across the MINI range in the future. Its introduction is a result of??platform-sharing with the 2-series Active Tourer, with which the Clubman shares its wheelbase.
Also making their debut for MINI on the Clubman are fully-electric seats (with memory function) and an electronic handbrake. The MINI Navigation System will ??be standard across the Clubman range, matching??the move by BMW to make sat-nav a standard feature. New colours and interior trim options will aid in MINIs push??further upmarket. The Clubman is the first car being the first car launched under MINIs??new brand logo (strangely absent from??the car itself) and strategy.
The MINI Clubman is available to order in the UK now, with first deliveries expected??October??2015. Prices start from????19,995 for the Cooper Clubman. This means a near-??4000 leap from??the 5-door hatch, which may be hard to justify. Against the likes of the Ford Focus Titanium or VW Golf Match the pricing makes more sense; but as ever with MINI, ticking a few options can see the price inflate rapidly. Whether the MINI Clubman is worth the premium or not is difficult to determine. Its C-segment rivals are not short on quality??dynamics, equipment or brand strength. Where the Clubman will succeed is attracting customers looking??to move up a size from a MINI hatchback. Sales figures will be the judge of the acceptance of the less-than-mini Clubman.
Drawn to cars like a moth to a lightbulb. The automotive world is a life-long obsession for this engineer. If it has four wheels and an engine, chances are he can babble incoherently about it for hours.