MINI is on the eve of beginning pre-production of its most important 2016 model. The completely new 2016 MINI Clubman will re-focus the model on catering to small families with four doors, fives seats and a larger boot (to boot). All told this new Clubman will be the largest MINI by length and width to date. Based on the same UKL platform as the F56, this stretched version will take all the tech and drivetrain that consumers love on the current MINI hatch and combine it with a ton more space and utility in a wagon like silhouette. In many ways this list is the MINI that we at MF wanted the Countryman to be.
The Exterior – A Wagon not an SUV
While the entire car is wider (noticeably so), the nose from the bumper up looks to be very similar to that of the F56. Good news for those critical of the F56 front bumper design, the F54 Clubman tones down that design creating something much more subtle while achieving the same aero function. Speaking of aero the Clubman will also feature the introduction of a patented BMW aero technology called “Air Curtain.” Together with the “Air Breather” the system reduces drag on the bodyshell in a very simple, but extremely effective way.
Two narrowing channels guide the airstream through the front apron and past the wheels. This reduces the air turbulence in the wheel housings, which decreases fuel consumption and in turn CO2 emissions. A further benefit of the Air Curtain is that it contributes to improved cooling of important vehicle components.
Elsewhere we’ll see the twin barn doors retained but the rear taillights turned on their sides in a horizontal layout (a la Paceman).
According to sources, the rear will feature a large MINI logo as the door handles for the boot. The handle will split when opened creating a trick looking logo that will be hard to miss.
Interior – Utility and Comfort Added
Inside the new Clubman things get really interesting. The extra width has allowed MINI designers to take a fresh look at the interior and add a few features not found in the F56. To start with the dashboard is completely different than the F56 and features four square air vents rather than square and round combination currently used. The middle console houses different HVAC controls and a toggle design that is recessed more than the F56.
There’s also a real center console that allows for heating and cooling vents to fit between the front seats and aim at the rear passengers. And speaking of those passengers, the extra width allows for a true three person bench seat – decidedly wider than the current Countryman or the current F55 four door hatch.
With the Clubman, MINI will also introduce an optional all digital instrument package that replaces the analog dials in front of the driver. While it’s unclear what MINI will offer in the way of features, you can imagine that the options are limitless.
The Engines – a Hybrid, Diesel and All Wheel Drive Join the Ranks
While the F54 will launch with the now expected three and four cylinder engines seen on the F56, there will be a couple new variations thrown into the mix. As we exclusively reported earlier this year, MINI will debut an all wheel drive plugin hybrid Clubman that should offer incredible efficiency ratings.
At the heart of the new Hybrid Clubman will be the 1.5L three cylinder lifted from the F56 Cooper and powering the front wheels. Integrated into that will be a plug-in hybrid system (likely derived from the BMW i8) powering the rear wheels only. The beauty of that arrangement is the torque (which is abundant in electric motors) won’t overwhelm the front tires and instead will provide additional power in the most effective way – to the rear. Not only will power and torque be better distributed, but it will also allow for better weight distribution across the entire car.
The synchronous electric motor will likely have an electric-only range of around 15-20 miles. Obviously this would be ideal for urban environments.
The system that BMW has shown in concept form (and has been testing for years in R55 Clubman mules) has an output of “over” 140 kW/190 bhp. Doing the math backwards (and assuming MINI won’t detune the 134 hp Cooper 1.5L engine) we can expect the electric engine will have around 60 hp by itself.
Given these numbers (and adding the extra weight of the system) we’d expect 0-60 times in the low 7s. More importantly BMW has said it expects the system to achieve a fuel consumption of less than 2.5 litres per 100 kilometers (94 mpg, 113 mpg imp), with a CO2 emissions level of less than 60 g/km. Granted those figures will be altered for the US based on the EPA’s own measurement but they will still be similarly astounding in production form.
For a full report (and details on the hybrid’s push to pass system) be sure to check out our exclusive coverage on the new hybrid Clubman
A Diesel in the US. We know. You’re wondering how we can be so confident about the US finally getting a diesel MINI when MINI USA has either shown ambivalence or pulled plug on the program in the past. Five years ago the US was on the verge of getting an R56 diesel. However due to the global economy meltdown the business case just didn’t make sense. However this time things are different. The UKL platform from the beginning has been designed to accommodate the urea tank required for US diesels making modifications less expensive. Then there’s the increased interest in higher MPG and diesel in the US that are both consumer cost (never mind the currently low fuel prices) and legislation driven.
So what diesel MINI will the US get? We originally reported that the US would be getting a MINI Clubman SD for 2017 and we still believe that to be true. What’s the SD? Simply put it’s a diesel Cooper S drivetrain that produces 168bhp at 4000rpm and 266lb ft lbs at 1500rpm. MPG? That’s where things get really interesting.
The Cooper SD is rated at 70 mpg combined in the UK. In US MPG figures that’s 59 mpg. While the UK testing procedures are a little less stringent, that’s still an incredible number that would do more than just raise eyebrows for the US buying public concerned with efficiency.
Pre-production of the MINI Clubman begins late this month with its internet debut happening shortly afterwards. The public will get to see the Clubman for the first time in Frankfurt with European and UK sales beginning this fall. The US should see its first deliveries very late this year. Here’s the full rundown:
Cooper & Cooper S Start of Production: July 2015 – June 2022 Cooper & Cooper S ALL WHEEL DRIVE Start of Production: March 2016 – June 22
Look for more (including more revealing photos) in the days ahead on MF.