MINI Clubman adds Doors, Tech, Green

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The newly announced MINI Clubman is more than an extension (literally) of the popular MINI Cooper REV 2. First presented to the public at Frankfurt nearly two years ago (as the Shooting Brake Concept), the Clubman incorporates a number of unique and interesting capabilities that may set it apart from the average vehicle in its class.

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Overall, the vehicle is the same up front as the basic MINI hatch and remains so to the B-pillar. The large, bug-like headlights, hexagonal radiator grill, and hood design clue you in to the vehicle. From the B-pillar back, things change…
The Clubman’s body is now 9.45 inches longer than the standard MINI Cooper. The wheelbase is 3.15 inches longer. Color choices of the C-Pillar include silver, or black. The rest of the key data are very similar to that found on the standard MINI, except for some really neat new features, including:


More Doors
The new “Clubdoor” is a sort of suicide door on the right-hand side of the car. In other words, it opens against traffic. To prevent being ejected from the vehicle by disgruntled family members or friends, the Clubdoor will only open when the front door is open. There is no outside handle, so the lines are clean.
The new Clubman incorporates a two-piece split door at the rear of the vehicle – kind of like a bread van. It’s a neat touch and an authentic reminder of an original MINI capability. Hinged at the outside edges, the doors open wide – ideal for equipment or dogs or… And, to keep with some fun authenticity, each door has its own windscreen wiper. Fun!

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More Room
In reality, the MINI Cooper is a four-passenger vehicle. From a practical point of view, only children, pets, or bags of groceries fit in the back of the Cooper and Cooper S. The Clubman hopes to extend its reach by adding an additional 3.4 cubic feet of storage over the MINI Cooper. You can order an optional “totally flat” luggage compartment floor, if you like. Total storage is now 32.6 cubic feet with the seats down or 9.1 cubic feet with them upright.
The new Mini Clubman will also be sold as a five-passenger vehicle standard. Optionally, you can order two seats in the rear as a no-cost option. Rear seat passengers can feel the luxury of an additional 3.15-inches of legroom. Joy!
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Green Machine
As more people tout the need for a reduction in carbon emissions, footprints, and overall ecological responsibility, MINI is adding some capabilities that are certainly interesting from a tech point of view, and for some, may represent respect for mother Earth, while still utilizing some traditional methods of combustion.
For those who select the manual gearbox option, a new capability called “auto start-stop” comes into play. Whenever the car is stopped, such as at a stoplight, Auto Start-Stop shuts the engine down, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions while the car stands still. To fire the engine back up, simply press the clutch pedal and “whuhummm,” the engine starts. MINI feels this is particularly important when in city traffic.
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Manual MINI Clubmen (?) also benefit from an “ideal economy” gear displayed as a numeric value beneath the tach. A computer chip analyzes engine speed, driving conditions and the position of the gas pedal to determine the most efficient use of fuel relative to the gear being used. This “shiftlight” arrangement likely earns Mini a few extra points in the CAFE analysis game.
Those who click the “automatic” checkbox on their MINI Clubman selection sheets will enjoy a six-speed auto with paddle shifters on the wheel. Their homes are also subject to picketing and protests by GreenPeace.
More Power
Although the US does not get the optional diesel engine, we do get the 1.6 litre four-cylinder gasoline engine that puts out 120hp for the Clubman or 175hp for the twin-scroll turbocharger (and inter-cooled) S model. As with the MINI Cooper S, the Clubman S motor’s turbo kicks in at just 1600rpm and has awesome response characteristics due to the clever separation of two cylinders each into the exhaust manifold and the turbo. The S model has improved milage as well, with a claimed combined 45 miles per gallon.
The diesel would be an interesting addition to the U.S. market, although 110hp may not be enough for most American buyers. On the other hand, MINI says the Diesel Clubman will deliver combined mileage in Europe of 69 miles per gallon. Bring it!
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Do we like it?
It remains to be seen if the American public latches on to the MINI Clubman. Personally, I have loved the MINI (both REV 1 and REV 2), but it’s not been practical enough for me (family, dogs, etc.). The new Clubman MAY be enough – and I must admit, saving money on gas while still having some go-kart handling fun on the road can’t be a bad thing. I can’t wait to drive it.

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