Mini makes a radical departure from the cute curves of its standard Cooper models with the launch of the Cooper Clubman, a boxy five-door wagon with some unique design aspects and advanced drive train technology.
Automotive history is repeating itself with the unveiling of the Mini Clubman, due to go on sale in Europe later this year and in the United States in early 2008. The newest Mini will come in three model configurations: the Cooper Clubman, the Cooper S Clubman, and the diesel Cooper D Clubman.
The Mini Cooper S Clubman will feature a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with BMW's Valvetronic variable-valve timing, good for a maximum of 175hp, while the nonturbocharged Cooper Clubman uses the same engine to put out 120 horsepower. The diesel Cooper Clubman D, which will be initially available only in Europe, has an average fuel economy of 68.9 mpg, according to Mini.
The MINI Clubman split-rear doors open to give access to its cargo area, which comprises 9.1 cubic feet of storage space with the seats upright and a total of 32.6 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. This compares to the cargo room in standard hardtop Mini Cooper models, which have 5.7 cubic feet, with the seats and 24 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
With a body style reminiscent of the original 1970s Mini Clubman Estate, the new Clubman's roofline extends across all three pillars. To differentiate the Clubman from other Mini Coopers, the car's C-pillars are painted in silver or black.
The most distinctive design feature of the Cooper Clubman is its Clubdoor. Located only on the right-hand side of the car, the Clubdoor swings open in the opposing direction relative to the main passenger door to increase the access to the rear seating area.
In Europe, the manual-transmission version of the Cooper Clubman will come with a fuel-saving Auto Start Stop feature, which automatically switches off the engine as soon as the driver shifts to neutral and releases the clutch pedal. The engine restarts when the driver depresses the clutch pedal.
Another Europe-only feature at the time of launch is the Cooper Clubman's Brake Energy Regeneration system. This works by converting the engine output primarily into drive power (rather than into power for the car's onboard electrical systems) by automatically disengaging the alternator in times of high engine load demand. The alternator is reengaged when the driver applies the brakes or when drive power is no longer needed.
All of the extra wheelbase length is used to increase legroom for rear-seat passengers. Forward of the B-pillar, the Clubman is structurally identical to the standard hardtop Mini Cooper One and Cooper S.