As with its predecessor, the second-generation Mini Clubman will be a petrol-only affair, with the range initially featuring the entry-grade Cooper and sporty Cooper S variants. A high-performance Clubman JCW is expected to follow in 2016.
While local pricing and specifications won’t be finalised for another couple of weeks, we expect the 2016 Clubman to cost about the as much as the old one, with the Cooper starting at around $35,000 and the Cooper S approximately $10K more.
Mini Australia promises the new model will be significantly better equipped than the first-gen Clubman, however, with features designed to make it competitive with the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and other vehicles in the premium compact class.
The new Clubman boasts a number of features never previously offered in a Mini.
On the tech front there are the electric barn doors at the rear that can be opened by kicking under the bumper, power-adjustable front seats, and an electric park brake.
Inside the Clubman is available with diamond-pattern leather seat stitching, 40:20:40 split folding rear seats, and various ambient and decorative lighting panels.
The four-cylinder Cooper S Clubman will also become the first Mini available in Australia with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Both variants will come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the three-cylinder Cooper will be available optionally with a six-speed auto.
The specs of those engines – both turbocharged and direct-injected – are familiar from the three- and five-door hatch models.
The Cooper’s 1.5-litre triple produces 100kW at 4400-6000rpm and 220Nm between 1250-4300rpm. It’s said to motivate the Cooper from 0-100km/h in 9.1 seconds, while consuming fuel at a rate of 5.1-5.3 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.
The 2.0-litre in the Cooper S makes a meatier 141kW at 5000-6000rpm and 280Nm between 1250-4600rpm, launching it from 0-100km/h in 7.1 seconds (7.2sec for the manual), while average fuel use ranges between 5.8-6.3L/100km (the auto is more efficient).
Four other variants with unique engines available overseas won’t be offered in Australia due to their anticipated poor take-up in our market. These include the One base petrol, and the three diesels: the One D, Cooper D, and Cooper SD.
The first-generation Clubman had a niche following in Australia. Annual sales peaked at just a few hundred units during its seven years on sale between 2008 and 2014.
Mini Australia corporate communications general manager Lenore Fletcher believes the new Clubman will appeal to a much broader audience.
“There’s plenty of space in the front, there’s plenty of space in the rear and there’s plenty of space in the cargo, so it makes it a car that can easily take the family,” Fletcher said.
“I think it’s going to go right across the age groups from people with young kids, to active people, to empty nesters who are active as well.
“But I think most of all who we’ll see buying it is people who are very keen on making a statement. They want a point of difference, extroverts, and they want to be noticed. People who don’t just want another car from a sausage machine. People who want to express their personality with their vehicle. And people who have a passion for the brand.”
Fletcher identified mainstream and premium small cars and small SUVs as obvious rivals for the Clubman, while acknowledging that Mini buyers often cross-shop with other personality-packed vehicles from entirely different segments.
“There’s been a huge increase in SUVs in the Australian market and they’ve basically taken the place of the traditional locally manufactured station wagon. But I think also there’s a growing awareness of people wanting to go into something a little more accessible, a little more flexible, not necessarily such a large vehicle, and this provides you with the ability to actually have fun driving and have that flexibility where perhaps the same can’t be said of some of the SUVs around.
“Because it’s such a strong personality of a vehicle, there are people who will shop Mini against things you wouldn’t expect them to shop. We’ve had people shop four-wheel-drives against Minis. It’s just really interesting to see the different types of people who are looking at them.”
Stay tuned for our written and video reviews of the 2016 Mini Clubman, which will be published when the embargo lifts on Wednesday.