Like the second-generation Countryman crossover SUV and the gen-three five-door hatch the new Clubman breaks with Mini tradition by adding conventional rear passenger doors for the first time. Indeed Clubman goes one step further because, by retaining the previous side-hinged ‘barn doors’ at the rear of the car, it has become the first ever six-door Mini.
As is the norm with model upgrades the new Clubman is larger then its predecessor in all dimensions except height which remains unchanged at 1441 mm. The most significant change is in its length, up by 292 mm to 4253 mm while it is now 117 mm wider (1800 mm) with the wheelbase extended by 123 mm. Getting further from being ‘mini’ all the time…
Mini is still very much an iconic brand to the ageing baby boomer generation so the extra doors and increased interior space will no doubt attract many back to a vehicle that they had – literally in many cases – outgrown. Once inside the car there’s no doubting that you’re in a Mini with its characteristic quirkiness – bold sweeping curves, large instruments, toggle switches and pulsating mood lighting.
Having said that, the instrument panel has kept pace with the latest in technology. The characteristic large circular dial now houses a wide but narrow screen to display the various features including satellite navigation (standard on the S but optional on the base model). The start/stop is by a toggle switch on the lower part of the dashboard while the previous handbrake is replaced by a small electronic lever.
There’s also an optional head-up display that projects onto a pop-up screen rather than the windscreen.
The extended wheelbase provides noticeably improved rear seat legroom with the flat roofline ensuring reasonable rear headroom despite the car’s height being unchanged.
Boot space has also been increased to a fairly decent 360 litres. Expandable to 1250 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear seatbacks lowered. With the centre split down there’s access for long, narrow items. Beneath the boot floor there’s additional space to store out-of-sight objects.
Access through the barn doors is excellent and these can be opened automatically through either the key fob or the optional kick movement beneath the rear of the car (one kick opens one door, two kicks opens both). There’s a large piece of rubber on the lock to avoid damage if the doors are not closed in the correct order.
Two engines are offered, both turbocharged petrol units. The standard Cooper Clubman uses a 1.5-litre with three cylinders that generates 100 kW of power and 220 Nm (at 1250 rpm) of torque; the Cooper Clubman S with a 141 kW / 280 Nm (at 1250 rpm) four-cylinder with a capacity of 2.0 litres.
Fuel consumption from the Cooper is rated at 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres and 6.4 L/100 km from the Cooper S.
A diesel engine is available in overseas markets but Mini has no immediate plans to add it to its Australian range. Nor can we expect to see a John Cooper Works (JCW) version.
The Cooper has a six-speed automatic and the S an all-new Aisin eight-speed, the latter another first for Mini. The eight-speed has paddle shifters, the six-speed doesn’t. In a sign of the times manual transmission is available in all models but only on special order and at the same price as for the automatics.
Value has also been enhanced with the automatic models selling at the same prices as the outgoing manuals as well as a number of features moving from the options list to standard.
Safety equipment on all Clubman models includes six airbags; ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution; Dynamic Stability And Traction Control; Forward Collision Warning; Electronic Differential Lock Control; reversing camera; Rear Park Distance Control; and Isofix child seat mountings on the two outboard rear seats. The fuel saving stop/start feature is also standard
We were able to drive both Clubman variants during the launch test drive that took us through the undulating and twisting roads of the Adelaide Hills. In both formats there’s exhilarating performance with the sharp steering and willingness to grip hard around bends that keen drivers love.
The Cooper S has a feature called Mini Driving Modes which has three different settings operated by a rotary switch at the base of the gear selector lever. MID mode is the default setting for routine driving; Sport mode offers a sportier set up with changes to the throttle, steering and suspension for livelier performance; while Green mode tones everything back to minimise fuel consumption. Even with the firmer suspension on the Cooper S its ride remained comfortable enough for long trips.
The new Mini Cooper Clubman is more conventional than its predecessors – few will mourn the departure of the small rear-mounted passenger door which was a talking point with the old Clubman and, because it opened onto the traffic side of the road, gave real meaning to its ‘suicide door’ nickname. But it’s still distinctively Mini with all the character that the name evokes and at better value than ever before.
The complete 2015 Mini Clubman range is:
Clubman 1.5-litre turbo-petrol six-door wagon: $34,900 (six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic)
Clubman S 2.0-litre turbo-petrol six-door wagon: $42,900 (six-speed manual or six-speed automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mini dealer for driveaway prices.