THE LAST Mini Clubman was a quirky beast, a cross between a hatchback and a shooting brake-style estate car, with just three passenger doors – two at the front and one behind. Stranger still, the solitary back door opened into the road if you had parked on the left of the road, and the boot had a pair of side-hinged doors like a van’s.
Perhaps by way of admission that many drivers found this all a tad confusing, Mini is revealing an all-new Clubman at this week’s Frankfurt motor show, and it has all the doors where you’d expect them to be.
The new Clubman seats five people, making it more family-friendly than its four-seat predecessor. It’s longer and wider than a Mini five-door hatchback and has a substantially bigger boot (it holds 350 litres of luggage, compared with 278 litres in the five-door and 260 litres for the previous Clubman). Fold the seats down (which split 40:20:40) and there’s 1,250 litres of capacity, enough for bikes or a tip run.
All of this means that the Clubman is no longer the oddity it used to be. Whisper it: this Mini might just be practical.
Four versions are available. The entry-level Clubman Cooper is powered by a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and costs £19,995. A more potent, four-cylinder turbo petrol Cooper S costs £22,755. The diesel Cooper D is £22,265, and the faster Cooper SD goes for £24,255.
The Clubman Cooper SD will be the first Mini model to benefit from the very latest SD diesel engine, which whips up 187bhp yet returns a decidedly frugal 62.8mpg. It can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in just 7.4 seconds, Mini says.
The new Clubman goes on sale in Britain on 31 October, and first appearances suggest it’s more of a treat than a trick. Driving will be testing it next week – stay tuned for our review.