Mini Clubman concept (2014) first official picturesWed, 26 Feb 2014
By Damion Smy
First Official Pictures
26 February 2014 09:00
This is the new Mini Clubman Concept and, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – it has more doors than ever.
The new four-door (well, six if you could the two-piece rear opening) is the first Mini to have two sets of cabin doors, and will offer the same range of three- and four-cylinder engines as the rest of the range. Just as the Fiat 500 range is expanding in terms of size, doors and oddity, the Mini family is growing too. While officially it’s a concept, given the brand’s history of production ready showcars, you won’t have to squint too hard – or at all – for the road-going version.
Mini says that it heralds a ‘new generation’ and that Mini has always stood for ‘maximum use of space’. It follows on from a range that seemed to offer all sorts of oddities – like the Roadster and Coupe models, as well as the Paceman, which was the first ‘modern’ Mini to show off horizontal taillights, like the Clubman does alongside its new Clubman with its rear fridge doors.
Measuring 4223mm long, the new Clubman is a substantial 262mm longer than current version, while it’s also 161mm wider and sits 18mm higher than its predecessor. The showcar rides on sophisticated 19in alloys and uses the same platform as the new BMW 2-series Active Tourer, which has given the new Mini a longer wheelbase, less weight, and a stiffer chassis.
Up front, there are the hallmark Mini design cues: the new-gen’s headlamps, cladding and details such as the side chrome garnish and that floating roof.
Short overhangs and the usual cladding are present and correct, but at the rear, there’s big change: those odd-looking lights may take some getting used to, but up top there’s a neat double-spoiler with integrated stop-lamp, and down low the diffuser is a clever piece of design and hosts the central twin pipes.
BMW talks about integrated dynamics, which in this case sees the appearance of the ‘Air Breather’ that’s seen on our BMW 420d long termer in play. It feeds air from a slot in the front wheelarch, behind the wheel, through the guard for better stability and airflow. You know the drill: better aero, better fuel economy and so on.
It’s a lot cleaner and neater on the outside, especially compared to the messy John Cooper Works concept shown at the 2014 Detroit motor show, which looked like a kids’ concept.
The Clubman’s cabin is quite different from the regular Mini. Anchored by the large circular display, which has its own touchscreen interface, unlike the Cooper S that we drove last month. You’ll be able to use the interface for the terrain sensing sat-nav, as well as the two-stage adaptive dampers.
There are also fewer buttons than the production Mini and a flatter, smoother dash design. The round air-vents have been replaced by more trapezoidal versions to give the Clubman its own cabin identity. It’s all about space, though, and it’s in the back where you’ll see the real benefits of the longest Mini to date.
The range of three- and four-cylinder units the power the rest of the Mini range will be offered in the Clubman, which means a 136bhp 1.5-litre triple in the Cooper model, a 1.5-litre diesel and a larger 2.0-litre turbo for the flagship Clubman John Cooper Works. The engines will use a six-speed manual, now with rev matching on downshifts (a la Nissan’s SynchroRev) or a six-speed auto – as we’ve lamented, there’s no dual-clutcher for the Mini yet.
Expect the new Clubman range to start from around £16k when it goes on sale in late 2014.
By Damion Smy