A new generation for the MINI
When the MINI first launched in the United States in 2002 (with the Cooper and Cooper S hardtop), it changed our view of what a small car could be.
The first generation of the Mini Clubman, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007, featured an extra right-hand door that hinged at the rear and twin-closing cargo doors. It was a stretched version of the company’s 2-door model but certainly looked like nothing anyone had seen before.
The third-generation 2016 model has been completely redesigned and engineered with new engines and transmissions. It is also longer and wider than previous Mini models. The 2016 Clubman is the first Mini to enter the premium compact segment.
“Today’s Clubman is our largest but still very much a MINI. This can now be the only car in the household for many families,” said Patrick McKenna, Department Head, Product Planning & Events, MINI USA. “MINI defined the premium small car segment with the relaunch of the Hardtop back in 2002, and the new Clubman will help us redefine the notion of “premium” with nearly bespoke levels of customization.”
The 2016 MINI Clubman launches in gentiel Southern style
The 2016 MINI Clubman launched in Savannah, Georgia, a romantic southern city that is a comfortable collaboration of historic gentility with a contemporary hip vibe.
Early one sultry morning a group of us took off in a caravan of multi-colored 2016 MINI Clubman’s parked around a green square across the street from our hotel. We motored our way to Jekyll Island, a barrier key on Georgia’s coast that is accessed by a paved causeway.
We had lunch at an antebellum estate overlooking lush manicured grounds with walking paths shaded by oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. Our buffet served in an interior courtyard was everything a Yankee gal could hope for— fried catfish, Cajun rice, hush puppies and sweet tea.
Clever and cheeky
MINI has been using the same factory since 1959. “We are still clever and cheeky in our communications; our brand is small and design matters.” said Tom Noble, Department Head Mini Brand. “2002 was all about Red Bull and vodka, now we are into a well-made cocktail.”
Appetizers for your MINI
Like every model in the line-up, options are available a la carte so that buyers can choose their level of customization, and pay for what they want including embossed aluminum or a driver’s side mirror with MINI LOGO projection. Little touches like a tartan pattern in the bottom of every cup holder and illuminated door handles that help the MINI glow in the dark make the MINI a bit more special.
Design changes for exterior and interior
The new Clubman is about 12.4 inches longer and around 4.6 inches wider than its predecessor. It will be offered in 12 exterior hues including the new colors Melting Silver Metallic and Pure Burgundy Metallic.
Split rear doors technically make the MINI Clubman a six-door model and provide the option of a smaller or larger loading opening to help with tight sparking spaces.
Inside, the new MINI Clubman has increased front shoulder room by 4.4 inches, rear shoulder room by 6.9 inches and rear legroom by 2 inches. Cargo space with the rear seats up nearly doubles from 9.3 cubic feet to 17.5 cubic feet in the new model. With the rear seats folded flat, that number increases by more than 15 cubic feet and 47.9 cubic feet behind the front seats.
Standard equipment includes the MINI Connected infotainment system with 6.5-inch high-resolution display, Bluetooth audio streaming, and voice control; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and gearshift lever; dual-zone automatic climate control; automatic headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers; keyless ignition; 12-color ambient interior lighting; 16-inch forged alloy wheels in “Loop Spoke” design; and driving modes with Green, Mid, and Sport settings.
Clubman S models add larger 17-inch forged alloy wheels in a choice of silver “Vent Spoke” design or black “Net Spoke” design, halogen fog lights, sports seats with increased bolstering, hexagonal grille mesh, chrome surround, and chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets.
The power of the MINI
BMW Group-developed three- and four-cylinder engines feature MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology with direct injection.
The entry-level Cooper is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine making 134 horsepower and 162-lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy is 25-mpg city, 34-mpg highway. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is 8.9 seconds, and the top speed is 127 mph.
The high-performance Cooper S powered by 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine promising 189 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque.
For the first time on any Mini vehicle, a high-tech and efficient eight-speed sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters is optional. For fuel economy the six-speed manual transmission mode maintains an estimated 22-mpg city, 32-mpg highway and the eight-speed automatic transmission gets 24-mpg city, and 34-mpg highway. The new MINI Cooper S Clubman sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds (automatic: 6.9 seconds) and has a top speed of 142 mph.
Testing the MINI Clubman
Because the new MINI Clubman is longer and wider than any other MINI model, it endured extensive testing on the Nurburgring in Germany, the Circuit of Miramas in France, the Millbrook Proving Ground in the UK, as well as the gnarly roads of Wales.
Outstanding safety technology
Optional driver assistance systems include the Head-Up Display, a driving assistant system that includes camera-based active cruise control, collision and pedestrian warning with initial brake function, high beam assistant, road sign detection, parking assistant and rear view camera.
Who is this car for?
I always say that if I had a choice for a car to own in NYC, the MINI is it. The 2016 Clubman, the largest MINI yet, has more creature comforts, is much more sophisticated, and is more fun to drive. The Clubman can also be a family car if you travel like a European (without a lot of baggage). It’s perfect as a second car for troops that need extra space for kids and sports equipment.
What we loved:
- You can never say that MINI looks like every other car; the cars maks a stylish statement with spunk, personality and panache. The Clubman adds a new dimension with more space
- The surprise elements – like the tartan pattern in the bottom of the cupholders and the illuminated door handles that make the MINI stand out in the dark
- The drive– The MINI is spunky, spirited and so easy to maneuver in and out of city spots
What you need to know:
- Extensive list of standard equipment
- Along with other a la carte options, special upholstery choices developed specifically for the vehicle include a smooth-grained Indigo blue-dyed leather with diamond stitching in the pattern of classic English Chesterfield sofas and rich Burgundy leather with environmentally friendly trim
- Fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
- Starting price: $24,100 for the base Cooper model; $27,650 for the Cooper S variant
Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were provided by MINI, opinions expressed here are all my own.