MotoringFile Exclusive: The presentation of the 2008 Clubman, hosted by Plant Oxford Director Oliver Zipse, took place today and we have first-hand account from one of our always reliable sources.

>Approx 3000 associates were crammed into a small room in a place known as ‘T -Building’ on site, at just before 1pm. When we were assembled Mr. Zipse began! All the usual “Good afternoon, for those of you who don’t know me, I am the new plant director….” etc took place first – nothing at all exciting.

>The 1,000,000th Mini took the stage to Oliver’s left, whilst a large printed sheet (with an image of a bank vault door) hung down from the industrial looking stainless steel tubular fame to Mr Zipse’s right. After a short, speech about expected production volumes for the current year and how the Clubman would play a vital role in those projected figures, the vault was opened! The sheet dropped to reveal a Lightning Blue/Silver Roof/Silver C-pillar upper and lower AND the top section of the rear bumper, Mini Clubman! – With the new 17″ alloy wheels (as pictured in the official Clubman sketch seen on MotoringFile a while back).

>After the big reveal we were given an insight into the whole process of the design of the ’55 and how the idea of a Clubman model harked back for years – the first CAD models were ‘penned’ with the R50 wheelbase in mind. Initial ideas were to just simply stretch the R50
chassis. Another idea was again to stretch it BUT to add a split folding tailgate ala BMW X5 at the rear – until the german designers finally decided on the model we know now. For the last couple of years designers have hand built clay, wood and foam models of the R55, purely to fettle door shuts etc. In fact the CAD, clay and foam full size models of the clubman were built BEFORE the clubman concepts that were seen at the various motor shows throughout 2006. I have some official measurements – the wheelbase is 80mm longer, and the rear overhang is 120mm larger.

>MotoringFile also got an OFFICAL MENTION during the presentation – I was completely taken by surprise. There was a powerpoint presentation throughout the ‘show’ and one slide was of quotes taken from MotoringFile and Mini2! I was absolutely amazed! Quotes included were “A Mini Clubman – talk about the ultimate anti SUV buster!”

>I can only imagine the MINI marketing exec and R55 designer justifying their decision to
build a shooting brake model BASED ON COMMENTS posted on MotoringFile.

>One thing I must mention is that Mini are purposely NOT aiming the Clubman at ‘Small Families’. The scale of customers will range from:

>* Single
>* Single on short holiday
>* Single with friends
>* Single but actively sporty e.g windsurfer with medium sized equipment.

Expect the official public debut the Clubman to take place at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September with the official photo release happening several weeks before. As mentioned previously on MF, the Clubman will launch with several unique exterior and interior colors. On the outside expect to see:

* Hot Chocolate = Medium Brown metallic.
* Java Grey = Light Greenish Silver – Darker than Silk Green from the R50.
* Sandglow Gold = Replacement for Solid Gold – light gold/yellow metallic.

Inside we’ll see several unique seating options as well as new trim.

A huge thanks to a special source that made this report possible. We’ll have more MINI Clubman information (including probable US pricing) next week.


[ Clubman Update and Official Sketch ] MotoringFile