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All-new five-door MINI Clubman a technophile’s dream

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August 1, 2007

MINI's new Clubman

MINI's new Clubman

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August 2, 2007 Mini seems very keen to pack all the technology it can into the newest addition to its range – the Mini Cooper Clubman. Almost but not quite a Mini wagon, the Clubman seats five in relative comfort, with a backwards-opening barn door behind the passenger door opening out to give your friends some sense of dignity as they climb into the back seats. The Clubman also features run-flat tyres, smart regenerative braking and a clever fuel-saving system that automatically stops the engine when you’re sitting at the lights in neutral with the clutch out, firing it back to life in an instant the minute you put the clutch down. Twin rear doors, each with its own windscreen wiper, finally give the Mini a decent carrying capacity, but the extra space doesn’t get in the way of the model’s famous go-kart style handling. Safety-wise, the cabin is packed with airbags from all directions, ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, Cornering Brake Control, Stability Control and a hill assist system that stops the Clubman from rolling backwards on hill starts. A technophile’s delight, the car even provides a real-time analysis of what gear you should be in for maximum fuel efficiency. Dear Mini designers, it appears you’ve left out the kitchen sink…

The new MINI Clubman will go on sale in the UK on Saturday 10 November 2007. Based on a concept first shown at Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005, the new car is a modern interpretation of its famous Mini predecessors taking into account all the demands and technologies of the 21st century.

Available from launch in three engine variants: Cooper D, Cooper and Cooper S, the new model offers flexible use of space, easier access through innovative door concepts, more space for rear passengers and high levels of safety and customisation options, all without compromising the MINI’s well-known handling dynamics.

The new car takes inspiration and styling cues from the Morris Mini Traveller, Austin Mini Countryman and the Mini Clubman Estate, which enjoyed widespread success in the 1960s. Combining enhanced functionality and versatility, the new MINI Clubman nevertheless stays true to the MINI design language with the retention of short body overhangs, wide track, a long wheelbase and the high shoulder line rising towards the rear.

The new MINI Clubman is 24cm longer than the Hatch, signifying 8cm more legroom for rear passengers and the opportunity for MINI to enter the market with five seats. Boot capacity has increased to 260 litres with the seats in place and up to 930 litres with the rear seats down. Access to this extra space has been made easier via the split rear doors and innovative Clubdoor on the right-hand side.

Modern high-performance engines, designed specifically for the 2nd generation MINI, feature new improvements to optimize fuel economy and emission management. Auto Start-Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration and a Gearshift Point Indicator are standard on all variants and helps the MINI Cooper D Clubman to achieve a low emissions figure of 109 g/km C02.

The Clubman is the next body style in the MINI range to join the successful Hatch and Convertible models, which have sold over one million models since 2001. All three derivatives will be built at Plant Oxford, where £100 million has been invested in the past two years to increase production up to 240,000 by 2008. This is more than double the planned production capacity prior to the first car coming off the line in spring 2001.

As with the Hatch models, the petrol engines will be assembled at Plant Hams Hall in the Midlands and the body panels and sub-assemblies are from Plant Swindon. This ‘MINI production triangle’ employs approximately 6,800 production associates in the UK.

On-the-road-prices: MINI Cooper UK£14,235 MINI Cooper D UK£15,400 MINI Cooper S UK£17,210

Exterior

Many important details have made it into the production version of the ‘Shooting Brake’ concept first shown at Frankfurt almost two years ago. Historically, ‘Shooting Brake’ models are so-called due to a combination of premium two-door styling, with added interior flexibility for owners leading active lifestyles. The three versions of the MINI Clubman are identical to the MINI hatch design and body structure up to the B-pillar, retaining the familiar hexagonal radiator grille and large, round headlights.

Some of the design highlights:

- The two piece split-door is a modern interpretation of an authentic detail found on the MINI’s classic forerunners. Hinging at the outside, the rear doors open up to the left and right offering convenient access to the rear. To ensure clear visibility at all times the two doors come with separate windscreen wipers.

- Access to the rear is facilitated by an additional door. The Clubdoor is hinged at the back on the right-hand side of the car and opens against the direction of travel. For safety reasons, this door can only be opened when the front door is open. The Clubdoor does not require an outside door handle and therefore blends smoothly into the body of the Clubman.

- The MINI Clubman is the same width as the Hatch model and approximately two centimetres higher.

- There are 12 body colours to choose from, creating 36 combinations of exterior paintwork. Hot Chocolate is new and available only on the MINI Clubman.

- The C-pillars and rear bumper of the MINI Clubman are painted either Silver or Black. The roof can be ordered in Silver, Black or Body Colour.

Interior

The interior design of the new MINI Clubman replicates the design changes introduced on the 2nd generation MINI hatch model. Therefore, the opportunities to personalize it are just as varied as the Hatch with four interior colours and a wide range of trim options including Brushed Alloy and glistening Piano Black Paint.

The luggage compartment holds 260 litres, 100 litres more than the Hatch, and offers easy loading options thanks to the split-rear doors. Folding down the rear seats provides 930 litres (250 litres extra compared to the Hatch), and a completely flat luggage compartment floor is available as an option. The benefits are greater practicality and flexibility for a larger variety of transport requirements.

The MINI Clubman is entering the market with five seats as standard. It is also possible to choose two seats at the rear as a no-cost option. The passengers in the rear enjoy 8cm more legroom than the MINI Hatch.

Engines

The three modern, high-performance engines were developed specifically for the 2nd generation MINI and guarantee sporting driving pleasure combined with remarkable efficiency:

MINI Cooper S Clubman:

Powered by a 1.6 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger complete with intercooler. Response time when accelerating is virtually instantaneous due to separating the channels of two cylinders each into exhaust manifold and turbocharger. This reduces the exhaust back pressure and plays a major role in ensuring that the charging effect of the turbocharger kicks in at just 1600rpm. Maximum output is 175hp at an engine speed of 5,500 rpm.

Maximum torque: 240Nm at 1600-5000 rpm (260Nm with Overboost) Top speed mph: 139 Acceleration 0-62mph: 7.6 seconds Fuel consumption combined mpg: 44.8 CO2 emissions EU g/km: 150

MINI Cooper Clubman

The 1.6 litre four-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine features fully variable valve management based on BMW Group’s VALVETRONIC technology. This improves the engine’s response and refinement, as well as the all-round efficiency of the power unit. Maximum output is 120hp at 6000 rpm.

Maximum torque: 160Nm at 4250 rpm Top speed mph: 125 Acceleration 0-62mph: 9.8 seconds Fuel consumption combined mpg: 51.4 CO2 emissions EU g/km: 132

MINI Cooper D Clubman

Four-cylinder turbo diesel with common-rail fuel injection and variable turbine geometry ensures optimum smoothness, efficiency and response even at low speeds. A diesel particulate filter almost eliminates diesel exhaust emissions and helps to make the MINI diesel engine one of the most environmentally friendly cars available. It develops maximum output of 110hp at 4000 rpm.

Maximum torque: 240Nm at 1750-2000 rpm (260Nm with Overboost) Top speed mph: 120 Acceleration 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds Fuel consumption combined mpg: 68.9 CO2 emissions EU g/km: 109

As with all MINI Hatch models, the MINI Clubman range will benefit from the improvements introduced in production from August 2007 to bring further reductions in fuel consumption and emissions. Technologies include Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start-Stop function and a Gearshift Point Indicator.

Brake Energy Regeneration

This technology ensures that the output from the engine is converted primarily into drive power, with electricity being generated for the on-board network only when the engine is on overrun or during application of the brakes. To achieve this effect, the alternator is automatically disengaged from the engine while under power. Accordingly, the power the alternator would consume in the conventional mode now remains fully available for even faster and more dynamic acceleration.

An adequate supply of electrical energy to the on-board system is nevertheless ensured at all times, since the alternator is activated again as soon as the MINI returns to overrun or the driver applies the brakes.

Auto Start-Stop

The new Auto Start-Stop function on all manual gearbox versions of the MINI Clubman serves to effectively reduce fuel consumption and emissions while the car is standing still. Whenever the car comes to a stop, Auto Start-Stop automatically switches off the engine as soon as the driver shifts to neutral and takes his foot off the clutch pedal. To re-start the engine, the driver presses down on the clutch pedal again, and the engine re-starts automatically and immediately.

Auto Start-Stop serves to optimize fuel efficiency in city traffic. The consumption of energy and the generation of exhaust emissions is reduced to zero in a very simple and straightforward process every time the car comes to a stop.

Gearshift Point Indicator

The driver of a manual gearbox MINI Clubman is able to focus on the most efficient style of motoring because the ideal ‘economy’ gear is shown by a numeric symbol in the cockpit display beneath the rev counter. The electronic engine ‘brain’ analyzes engine speed, driving conditions and the position of the accelerator pedal to calculate the most efficient style of motoring and suggests the respective gear to the driver.

Transmission

The MINI Clubman comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. As an option, six-speed automatic transmission is available for all three variants. A feature of the auto’ box enables the driver to select gears by means of paddles on the steering wheel.

Suspension

Despite its longer wheelbase and the body overhang extended to the rear, the Clubman retains the “bulldog” stance so typical of the MINI. The car’s agile driving characteristics offer the legendary go-kart feeling inseparably associated with the MINI brand.

The front axle is based on the MacPherson spring strut principle and features an anti-roll bar to reduce body sway to an absolute minimum. The central-arm rear axle is unique in this segment, sophisticated kinematics ensuring optimum wheel-to-road contact. Aluminium longitudinal arms help to reduce the car’s overall weight.

As with the Hatch, the suspension on the MINI Cooper S is set-up to be firmer and more dynamic than the other models. Although, an optional Sports Suspension set-up is available to the other models.

The MINI Cooper Clubman and the MINI Cooper D Clubman come as standard on 15-inch alloy rims, while the MINI Cooper S Clubman features 16-inch wheels with runflat tyres, allowing the driver to continue driving even after a complete loss of tyre pressure.

Steering

Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) gives direct feedback to the driver and contributes to the pin-point accuracy of the MINI Clubman. Speed-related power assistance guarantees low steering forces when parking and precise responses at high speeds on the motorway. A further advantage of EPAS is that it weighs far less than a conventional steering system and is geared towards saving energy: the electric motor is only activated when power assistance is required by the driver.

Safety

The MINI Clubman features a wide range of safety features. Six airbags are standard consisting of front, side and curtain head airbags for the driver and front passenger. Extra-large curtain airbags (integrated in the roof lining) offer optimum protection from head injuries for the rear passengers.

Active safety is ensured in critical situations by ABS anti-lock brakes, EBD Electronic Brake Force Distribution and CBC Cornering Brake Control as standard on all models. In addition, DSC Dynamic Stability Control is also standard (with on-off control by the driver) together with ASC+T Automatic Stability Control + Traction. Included within DSC is Hill Assist. This feature holds a manual MINI on the brake for a few seconds when setting off on a gradient to prevent it from rolling back.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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