Mini Cooper Clubman S – Preview: Hey…it’s a Mini for grown ups! Or those who could use more doors, more room and easier access than that of the current Mini, anyway. The Clubman, which leaked to the motoring press about an eon ago and was officially debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show, offers more of what Mini customers aren’t really supposed to care about – mainly boring stuff like functionality and room – but does so in a clever package that’s just as cute as a four-legged bug.
Why it Matters: The new Mini has been a strong hit, and it was just a matter of time before the good folks at BMW figured out a way to expand the lineup. That may sound easy to do, but consider the challenge behind updating and adding to what is in essence a complete retro vehicle with present-day equipment. From the looks of it, we think they did a marvy job of it, and may be onto something. While the Clubman would never come close to replacing the original, it’s a perfect bookend for people who want the Mini vibe but with room to exhale.
What’s Under the Hood: As with the updated 2007 Mini Cooper, the Clubman gets two powertrain choices: the naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower and 118 lb.-ft. of torque. The S powertrain offers up a turbocharged experience: 175 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, which is way more than any little car really needs – but it sure is fun to have! Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. Like the powertrain, the Clubman’s safety, braking, steering and suspension setups are the same as what’s on the smaller Mini.
What it Looks Like: Ah…so that’s what a longer Mini looks like. And we thought it would be ugly, but no – designers did a great job of stretching the chassis and creating that famously cute Mini look with added room and doors. The split door hatch and the passenger side suicide door (in the UK, this opens on the road side – yikes) make for a creative way to add functionality and purpose to a cool car – all the while making it even cooler than before.
What’s Inside: Ten inches longer at the wheelbase makes for significantly more room – on paper, at least. If it holds true in real life, the Mini Cooper Clubman will quickly become the preferred Mini for people who have stuff or people to haul. The tale of the tape suggests that legroom has grown three inches and that rear cargo room has also been expanded.
When You Can Buy It: Pretty much on sale in Europe right now, the Mini Cooper Clubman and Clubman S should reach our shores in the fall of 2007 or spring of 2008. Get that deposit down today!
What We Think: What a nice way to bring back the Clubman name, and give a nod to the Mini Traveller. Driving a Mini has always meant something more, mainly a more unique, and even sporting, experience. On that count, it looks like the Clubman will be a hit, in terms of driving pleasure and day-to-day errands. Pricing is not available at this time, but we hope that the Mini Cooper Clubman’s real world price stays as close to the MSRP as possible.