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MINI’s New Four Doors: F55 Hatch & F54 Clubman

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For the past year we’ve seen the F55 roaming the streets of Germany testing in various states of camouflage. And as each layer has been slowly stripped away ahead of its fall of 2014 reveal, we’ve started to get a grasp on its size and its four doors. Then a few weeks ago the first 2015 F54 Clubman was spotted in advanced prototype form outside of Munich. It was immediately obvious that MINI had re-thought the Clubman as a longer and wider vehicle with four doors (six including both rear “club doors”).

That’s two four doors from MINI set to be released over the next 18-24 months. What are the differences and why did MINI go this direction? Read on.

F54

The F55 5-Door Hatch

The new MINI five door will allow MINI to compete in the four door market without buyers giving up the typically MINI attributes. There have been many of you who have struggled with the idea of the Countryman but wanted more flexibility from a typical MINI form. Simply put this car was designed for that need.

Using the F56 hatch as its basis, MINI will shorten the front doors and add two small, conventionally opening doors behind them. This will be much like the Countryman’s layout, but in a slightly smaller package. As you can see in the photo (courtesy of Auto Express) rear doors will be on the small side, but still more usable then you might expect. Sources are telling us that the rear doors will extend from the trailing edge of the front doors all the way into the rear wheel arches and up to the gas cap on the right side of the car.

Inside we’ve been told to expect rear legroom to increase about 5 cm as compared to the next generation hardtop (which will be roughly the same as the current generation). F55 will offer a three person bench seat (like the Countryman and Clubman in some markets) likely as standard.

And yes those are door frames you see in the photo above. Expect them on both the F55 and F54 Clubman.

Stylistically the front of the car will be identical to the new F56. However the rear will be slightly raked as the extra 5 cm of legroom will push the boot out. As these photos let you make out, think of shape as almost a fast-back.

F55-Spy-Shot

In total the F55 will likely be at least 5 cm longer than the F56 hatch which will be approximately the same size in length (give or two a cm or two). On the roof the R55 will feature a more subtle version of the Clubman’s “dune-line” roof profile to further distinguish the three and five door hatches.

MINI will even likely market the R55 simply as “the four-door MINI.” It won’t be taking the place of the iconic two door hardtop, but it will be offered for those who want a small MINI with just a bit more practicality. A little practicality wouldn’t hurt the hardtop for many. Have you ever tried to get a child seat in the back of the hatch or perhaps a dog in and out? Then you’ll know why the four-door F55 may go along way in helping Americans overcome their fears of impracticality. For the rest, the original hatchback form factor of the two door MINI will remain as well.

Or thought of another way, it’ll bring some of the Countryman’s gains in practicality, but with fewer of its SUV-bred performance compromises. Imagine being able to more easily haul passengers, kids or pets, but retaining all of the smaller MINI’s handling and lightweight efficiency. That’s a package we can get excited about.

The Release Schedule

The 2015 MINI five door (the name is still TBD) will debut in the fall of 2014. Details have yet to be worked out but expect a roll-out to be slightly compressed in compared to the F56 – meaning it should hit the US before the spring of 2015. This should help give the Convertible room to launch that spring.

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The F54 Clubman

Where the F55 is all about being as small as possible with four doors, the Clubman stretches things out with an eye on increased utility. As you can see above 2015 Clubman will be lengthened and widened to Countryman proportions. This will allow for 2+3 style seating with easy access via two forward hinged rear doors. Exterior and interior details will be very similar to the soon to be released F56 albeit tweaked and stretch.

These changes were made possible by the F55 five door MINI and the increased market for small four door hatchbacks.

mini-clubman-2014-spy-picture-5

The Clubman will keep it’s iconic club doors in the rear but will lose it’s single “coach door” on the right in favor of two traditionally opening doors. This was done both due to customer feedback (especially in right-hand drive markets) and also safety concerns. In side impact crashes having a B-pilar is good thing.

Inside the rear legroom grows to Countryman levels while increased width will allow for three across seating as standard. The size of the boot is also increased dramatically in length, width and under the floor. One note about the rear club doors, MINI will be again hinging them on the corner of the car to allow for greater load angles. However unlike the current Clubman the lights will be integrated into the club doors and will be very similar to the Paceman’s in shape.

Based on the UKL platform, the F54 will carryover all drivetrains from the F56. What about all wheel drive? After our interview with Oliver Friedman head of MINI Product worldwide, we know we won’t see AWD on the F56. We’d guess that the F55 won’t deceit as well. But the F54 Clubman may be a very different story.

mini-clubman-2014-spy-picture-1

The Release Schedule

Design has been signed off and MINI is now in the prototype and manufacturing assessment phase. This should mean a debut date sometime in the first half of 2015 or about 6-12 months after the five door MINI is released.

Photos courtesy of AutoExpress

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Written By: Gabe

  • Head Honcho

    So the F56 turned out to be around 50mm longer than the previous car. So will the F55 be 100mm longer?

  • Chilly

    I like the look of this new Clubman but I hope there’s an option to just have 2 rear seats. After sitting in the rear of a Countryman, I think 3 across would be too tight.

  • mini_mi

    Grrr.. I’m in the market for a smaller hatch like the F55 or F54. Why couldn’t they be released sooner? :(

    Right now I’m looking at 2014 Mazda3 and 2015 MK7 Golf TDI. I really liked the F56 at the LA Auto Show.. I liked it more than the Mazda3 and Golf. But I’m having trouble justifying giving up some utility/practicality for pure Mini awesomeness.

  • jbkone

    I’m very disappointed in the conversion to “real” opening doors instead of the suicide doors. Almost as much as I am the loss of the center speedo.

    • b-

      Yes, this really stinks! I like the Clubman, on the driver’s side it is just like an old school 60′s 2 door wagon! I think I may have to pick up one of the last R55s because I have always liked the Clubman from launch!

      • carcrazed

        the suicide door can make it tough to get in the back seat when there isn’t much room between the MINI and the car parked say next to it, so the new doors are a welcome upgrade imo

        • Frank Granados

          I see no much difference really. With full front and rear doors, you need at least a 2-3 feet buffer zone between yours and the next car. The problem isn’t really the club door as it is short and nearly vertical, but the R55 still retains the fairly long/wide front doors of the hatchback which can be a bit challenging to open in very thight parking spaces.

  • CooperB

    Boo on the real doors!

  • carcrazed

    MINI, Please please please offer ALL4 F55! What a great vehicle for families. I have a Paceman ALL4 now and LOVE IT! Backseat increase in size from Countryman sounds perfect!

  • Aurel

    Loving the new Clubman look. As a current owner of one for the last 5+ years I have to say the suicide door helps but conventional doors will be fine. Still it’s not large enough for a growing family. I have to give up my current Clubman and look somewhere else for space. Hoping the Spacebox will bring me back to the MINI family.

    • Frank Granados

      We are on our second R55 and we also have a growing family, no problems there. I would say you can always have a MINI in a family household for as long as you have a more spacious car for main duty (In my case a 3 series sedan).

  • Frank Granados

    I like what I see here. I think the new platform lends itself much better to longer vehicles. Even with the covering I can tell the rear of the F55 is light years away from the caricature disaster seen in the upcoming F56 hatchback.

    • carcrazed

      clearly you have not seen the F56 in person if you say it’s a disaster, so please keep it real, thanks

      • Frank Granados

        Keep it real? Do you work for BMW? Sorry but if you go back and read previous posts, I have praised the new interior and powerplants, but the exterior of the car is aesthetically questionnable at best. I stand by my comments… Front and rear are a mess. Those tailights are horrid in the hatchback.

        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          Remember guys, you’re not allowed to like anything unless you work for BMW.

        • Frank Granados

          Nice try at twisting my words, Nathan.

        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          I’m just remixing the ad hominem. Wikka wikka wikka.

        • carcrazed

          Frank, just calling out your gross exagerations and seemingly lack of actually seeing the F56 in real life. Thus, keep it real and let’s keep the exageration to a minimum. The car is not horrid or a disaster…. Who I work for is neither here nor there. I speak from experience with the F56.

  • LTLMCPE

    The F54 Clubman has me intrigued. Having a 2008 Clubman since new that is my dog transport vehicle and commuter as well as occasional tire hauler I was afraid the rear club doors I love would not be available in the new one. Glad to see they are there. This might well be a great option as a replacement. I love the current two door w/suicide arrangement, but I understand the greater usefullness of four doors.

  • Vincent S

    so the new 5-door is going to be the more practical hatchback and the new clubman is going to be the the smaller (at least shorter) version of the countryman. is this correct?

    they just seem like they’re really similar cars.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      Size wise perhaps, but the Countryman will be much more SUV-like than at present and the new Clubman would remain more sedan-like. I can’t help but wonder if with a more utility focus for the new Countryman if it’d be able to tow a little more. That’d be nice — be able to haul a small trailer with a motorcycle or two on it and have that be built into the design.

      • Head Honcho

        Any chance the current Countryman will get updated with the newer engines before it is refreshed? Interior refresh to bring it closer to the F56?

  • Nick Dawson

    No Mini or MINI has ever been a thing of beauty, but F54 Countryman has all the makings of a very handsome motor car. I was very happy with the R55 Clubman Cooper that I owned before my Countryman, but somehow it always seemed a bit too much like a toy car, and difficult to take seriously. Not so the new F54 Clubman, which has really come of age and grown up into a fine athletic looking young adult of a car, that many motorists will aspire to own.

    R55, however, allegedly caused many a sleepless night for its designers, and by all accounts some board members too, and it’s launch was delayed several times. It was expensive to engineer and is expensive to produce. R56 has only ever been marginally profitable, so it is unlikely that R55 has ever made any serious money. F54, however, should be cheaper to manufacture and, as with the Countryman, will be a nice little earner for the company.

    • Nick Dawson

      Oops! First line …..F54 Clubman not F54 Countryman.

      • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

        Nick, if you create a Disqus account, you’d be able to go back and edit your comments. FYI.

        • Nick Dawson

          Thanks Nathaniel :-)


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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