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Frankfurt show: Mini expands with new Clubman

Not so mini: The dimensions of the Mini Clubman have grown compared with the model it replaces, but it keeps the nifty barn doors.

Larger new-gen Mini Clubman to take on A-Class and A3 in premium compact market


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25 Jun 2015

MINI has lifted the lid on its new Clubman, revealing a more conventional premium hatch offering to rival the likes of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, compared with the quirky model its replaces.

Due to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the Clubman does away with the rear half ‘Clubdoor’ of the 2007 version, instead offering four regular doors, while maintaining the famous split barn doors for access to the cargo area.

Arriving in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, the Clubman’s dimensions have grown. The British-built hatch is 270mm longer at 4253mm, 90mm wider at 1800mm and has a 100mm longer wheelbase than before at 2670mm.

This makes it about 90mm shorter than the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, with which it shares its UKL2 front-wheel drive platform along with the regular Mini hatch, but it matches the width of the BMW-badged model.

BMW says the extra dimensions ensure the Clubman moves into a larger, more premium segment than the model it replaces, with the German brand eying high-end compact cars such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3 and even its own 1 Series as possible rivals.

Offering larger dimensions such as a longer wheelbase and more interior space will also help differentiate it from its Mini 5-door hatch cousin.

From front on the Clubman carries the face of the current Mini range, as well as emulating the 2014 Geneva motor show concept that previewed it, while at the rear the BMW-owned car-maker has created a different look to the old model, with horizontal tail-lights that are set into the twin doors.

LED tail-lights, headlights, fog-lights and daytime running lights will be optional on some variants.

Exact specification and engine choices for Australia will be announced closer to its arrival later this year, but the Clubman launches in Europe with three powertrains, kicking off with the base Cooper’s 100kW/220Nm Euro 6-compliant 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol unit.

This engine is also found in the three-door and 5-door hatch range, and under the bonnet of the Clubman it can race from zero to 100km/h in 9.1 seconds on to a 205km/h top speed, while consuming 5.1-5.3 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle and emitting 118-123g/km of carbon dioxide.

The sole diesel option is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo unit that produces 110kW/330Nm for an 8.6-second 0-100km/h-dash time, 4.1-4.4L/100km of fuel use and 109-115g/km of CO2 emissions.

Topping the range – until the expected high-performance John Cooper Works version is confirmed – is the Cooper S, which uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol. It pumps out 141kW/280Nm for a 7.2-second 0-100km/h sprint (7.1s in manual), while sipping 6.2-6.3L/100km in auto guise (5.8-5.9L in manual) and emitting between 134-147g/km of CO2.

All variants are offered with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. While the Cooper is available with a six-speed Steptronic auto, the Cooper D and S get an eight-speed self-shifter.

The Clubman’s defining feature – the barn doors – can be opened using the chrome dual-section door handles, but if buyers opt for the Comfort Access package, they can open the doors automatically by waving their foot under the rear bumper.

Behind the twin doors, the Clubman can take 360 litres in its cargo area when the rear seats are in place, expanding to 1250 litres when the 60/40, or optional 40/20/40 split-fold rear seats are lowered.

That 360-litre figure is more generous than some of its perceived rivals, including Benz’s A-Class (341 litres), and it matches the BMW 1 Series, but it can’t beat the Audi A3 Sportback (380 litres).

Mini says the Clubman has loads of storage space, but that it is not enough, there is an optional storage package that adds more nooks, along with a variable cargo area floor and extra cargo nets.

A dual-colour 2.7-inch display, a 6.5-inch colour screen or an 8.8-inch colour screen is available depending on the grade. The displays show infotainment, phone and nav functions, all of which can be managed by a controller in the centre console.

While there is a lengthy options list, including a series of options packages, the Clubman comes standard with electrically folding exterior mirrors, air-conditioning, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB and an auxiliary jack.

Mini has upped the connectivity tech this time around with an optional Mini Connected system which can be paired with navigation, while also offering integration with smartphones for web-based infotainment and communication.

The company says the Clubman has the “highest level of ride comfort and brand-based go-kart feeling ever seen in a Mini” thanks to its “unique” suspension set-up comprising of a single-joint strut equipped front axle with new components, matched with an “optimised” multilink rear axle.

The Cooper S scores its own spring and damper set-up, sports suspension and optional Dynamic Damper Control and rides on 17-inch alloys, while the Cooper and Cooper D get 16s.

Also optional is a Mini Driving Modes system that allows the driver to choose between Mid, Sport and Green modes.

In terms of safety gear, the Clubman offers front, side and curtain airbags, Isofix child seat attachments and a tyre-pressure monitor, while a head-up display, park assist, reversing camera, adaptive cruise as part of a Driving Assistant system, high-beam assist, road-sign detection and collision and pedestrian warning with a braking function are also available.

The Clubman current carries a premium over its three and five-door Mini hatch stablemates, starting from $34,900, plus on-road costs, and rising to $43,900 for the Cooper S.

Meanwhile, Mini used the unveiling of the Clubman in Berlin this week to announce a brand repositioning strategy, involving a consolidation of its line-up to five core models, a new visual identity and the introduction of a car-sharing program.

BMW board member responsible for Mini, Rolls-Royce, BMW Motorrad and after sales, Peter Schwarzenbauer, said the Clubman highlighted the direction he wants to take the brand, and outlined the company’s plans.

“Since its creation in 1959, the Mini brand has always stood for ideas, inspiration and passion,” he said. “That will not change. The new Mini Clubman is the symbol of our refined brand philosophy: We will concentrate in future on five core models with strong characters.

“We will open ourselves up to new ideas and new business areas. We will develop the brand’s visual identity. We are expanding our offering into the premium compact class, which will attract new customers and avid Mini fans. I firmly believe that this comprehensive realignment will enable us to continue the Mini brand’s unique success story.”

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