The Mini Clubman has been reinvented as a considerably larger and roomier estate model in a move aimed at providing it with broader sales appeal against a growing number of premium-brand hatchback rivals.
Pictured here in definitive production guise for the first time following its unveiling in Berlin earlier this year, the new Mini model adheres closely to the earlier Clubman concept car first shown at the Geneva motor show in 2014. The car will go on sale in the UK on 31 October, and is on display at the Frankfurt motor show.
The latest model from the iconic British brand forgoes the quirky layout of its immediate predecessor, which used a single rear-hinged nearside door, in favour of a more conventional design with four front-hinged doors.
The new Clubman – which has been spied testing on several occasions in recent months – has grown to become larger even than the existing Mini Countryman. The new body design is aimed at providing the car with significantly improved versatility through a combination of increased interior space and added luggage capacity
The exterior design draws heavily on the latest hatchback, with a large single-frame grille, oval-shaped headlamps with LED graphics and a heavily rounded clamshell-style bonnet providing the front of the new Mini with a clear family resemblance to its smaller siblings.
Further back, the new Clubman adopts a breather element to draw air from the front wheelarches, a chrome housing for the side repeater lamps and four front-hinged frameless doors, those at the rear extending well into the rear wheel arches for added ease of entry.
As with the old Clubman, the rear eschews the conventional tailgate of other modern Mini models for a pair of barn-style doors featuring a prominent chrome opening mechanism. The vertically stacked tail lamps of other Mini models are also replaced by horizontal units, providing the new car with added visual width.
At 4253mm in length, the new Clubman is a significant 293mm longer than its predecessor. Width and height are also increased by 115mm and 16mm at 1800mm and 1441mm respectively. To put the wholesale increase in exterior dimensions into perspective, the latest Mini is 158mm longer, 10mm wider and 119mm lower than the largest of the existing Mini models, the Countryman.
Despite the adoption of hot-formed, high-strength steel within its body structure, the larger dimensions bring an increase of 155kg in kerb weight to 1300kg for the Cooper Clubman derivative.
Inside, the Clubman receives a new-look cabin with its own uniquely styled dashboard, an electronic handbrake and new controls, including the BMW-style rotary controller between the front seats, as featured on the latest Mini.
The design is more cohesive than that of other Mini models, while retaining traditional elements such as the large centrally mounted round binnacle. It is also a lot roomier than that of the old Clubman, with wholesale increases in accommodation as well as improved stowage.
The more functional nature of the new Mini is also reflected in the size of its boot. It has grown by 100 litres to a nominal 360 litres – 150 litres more than the hatchback and 10 litres more than the Countryman. A 60:40 split fold rear seat comes as standard. When the rear seats are folded away, the Clubman provides 1250 litres of luggage space.
The initial engine range for the new front-wheel drive Clubman includes two turbocharged direct injection petrol and a single turbocharged common-rail diesel, a line-up that mirrors that of the third-generation hatchback upon launch last year.
All engines come mated to a standard six-speed manual gearbox, with either a six- or new eight-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel mounted shift paddles available as an option. All feature automatic stop/start and brake energy recuperation as standard, with the eight-speed automatic adding a coasting function that idles the engine on a trailing throttle at speeds between 19mph and 62mph for added fuel savings.
Opening proceedings is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 134bhp in the Cooper Clubman. In standard manual guise it boasts an official 0-62mph time of 9.1sec, a 127mph top speed, combined average consumption of 55.4mpg (claimed) and average CO2 emissions of 118g/km.
The performance leader of new line-up is the Cooper S Clubman, which receives a 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 189bhp. It is claimed to reach 62mph in 7.2sec, a top speed of 142mph while returning 45.6mpg and 144g/km on the combined consumption cycle.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel serves up 148bhp in the Cooper D Clubman, which has a 0-62mph time of 8.6sec, 132mph top speed, 68.9mpg combined consumption and average CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
Further engines are planned, including a 168bhp version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel in an upcoming Cooper SD Clubman model and a 228bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit in a future Cooper S Clubman John Cooper Works range-topper.
Later in the Clubman’s life a plug-in hybrid version with a three-cylinder engine is also likely.
Underpinning the Clubman is parent company BMW’s versatile UKL platform. It uses the same 2670mm-long wheelbase as the recently introduced 2-series Active Tourer. That’s some 125mm longer than that of the old Clubman and 175mm longer than that of the latest hatchback, which also rides on the UKL structure.
As with the hatchback, the suspension is a combination of MacPherson struts up front and a compact multi-link arrangement at the rear. It can be enhanced with optional dynamic damper control, which provides the choice between sport and comfort settings.
A further option is the Mini Driving Modes function. Activated via a rotary switch at the base of the gear lever, it provides the choice of three driving modes: Green, Mid and Sport. The standard wheels are either 16in with 205/55 rubber (on the Cooper and Cooper D) or 17in with 245/45 profile tyres (on the Cooper S).
Mini is already begun talking up the dynamic properties of its new model, suggesting the Clubman provides the “highest level of ride comfort and brand-based go-kart feeling ever seen in Mini”.
Prices for the new Clubman start at £19,995 for the entry-level Cooper model, rising to £22,265 for the Cooper D and £22,755 for the Cooper S.
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