2016 Mini Clubman: A new approach
Spun from the new platform underpinning the latest-generation Mini, the 2016 Clubman is the largest vehicle in the family and serves as a symbol of Mini's "refined brand philosophy." Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW AG board member responsible for Mini, says this new approach will see the marque adopt a "premium compact philosophy" and also trim its offerings to just five core models -- a change destined to see the slow-selling Coupe, Roadster and Paceman eliminated.
The all-new Clubman measures 168.3 inches nose to tail (nearly 11 inches longer than its predecessor and significantly wider at 70.9 inches). The extra 4.0 inches of wheelbase is complemented by a broader front/rear track. Collectively, those stats yield a more people-friendly package for five as well as improved ride and handling.
Although the exterior of the new Clubman retains the family DNA, it does usher in some new twists. Highlighting the list are the first application of BMW-style Air Curtains and Air Breathers on the front end to improve its wind-cheating capabilities along with the availability of full LED headlamps to complement the LED running lights. Another big change sees the 2016 Clubman broom the 3-door configuration of its predecessor for four conventionally-hinged passenger portals. It also adds a new hands-free option for the signature 50/50-split rear cargo doors that now offer easier access to an upsized 17.7-cu ft load area capable of expanding to 47.9 cu ft when the 40/20/40 rear seat is folded. Mini says its increased interior space now qualifies the Clubman as a compact.
Inside, this new maxi Mini displays a more contemporary look and feel that includes a variation of the new Hardtop's dash treatment as well as unique door panels. It also brings the brand's first application of an electronic parking brake and the availability of power-operated front seats with memory function. Both the Cooper and Cooper S versions will come with a standard 6.5-inch color center screen and offer an 8.8-inch upgrade. The new Clubman also feature a rotary Controller in the center console on versions fitted with the Radio Mini Visual Boost, Navigation system or Navigation system Professional. Other across-the-board items of note include a power assists, dual-zone climate control, Mini Connected infotainment with extensive smartphone integration, Bluetooth hands-free phone/streaming audio and Aux/USB ports.
As in the 2-door and 4-door Mini Hardtops, the Clubman's speedometer and tachometer are mounted on the steering column. Cooper S also comes with sport buckets which are optional on the Cooper and both offer model-specific custom upholstery materials/sew patterns as well as John Cooper Works sport seats. Buyers can add various cosmetic and convenience packages as well as things like a 12-speaker harman-kardon premium audio system and a huge 47.5-inch panoramic glass roof and a Head-Up Display.
Optional 8-speed automatic
Like the latest Mini Hardtop model, the 2016 Mini Clubman offers two engine choices, both TwinPower Turbo gasoline powerplants that supply drive to the front wheels. The Cooper version will be fitted with a 134-horsepower/1.5-liter 3-cylinder while the Cooper S gets a 189-horse/2.0-liter 4-cylinder. A 6-speed manual transmission can be upgraded to a 6-speed Steptronic automatic in either model, the latter now capable of integrating its shift mapping with route data from the navigation system. Both Cooper and Cooper S models also will offer a new a new 8-speed Steptronic -- another first-use in a Mini. On the hotter Cooper S, this it brings quicker-acting sport-spec programming and steering-wheel-mounted paddles as well as a Launch Control function.
The 2016 Clubman boasts a unique suspension/steering configuration complemented by 16-inch alloy wheels on the Cooper and 17-inchers on the Cooper S. In addition to the full assortment of standard Mini driving assists, the Clubman's basic chassis tuning can be augmented by optional Dynamic Damper Control that allows the driver to select between comfort and sport settings. The new Clubman also will offer front/rear Park Distance Control, a rearview camera, Parking Assistant, a cruise control with brake function and Driving Assistant which brings camera-based cruise control and distance control plus a collision and pedestrian warning system with initial brake function.
The 2016 Mini Cooper and Cooper S Clubman go on sale in early 2016. Pricing will be announced in September when the new Clubman makes its formal public debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
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