BMW May Radically Change or Even Kill the MINI Clubman

The MINI Clubman is perhaps the best kept secret in the model line-up. Arguably better than any other car MINI offers at versitility, it delivers an excellent combination of performance, utility and style. And yet sales are rapidly dwindling (down almost 60% for July) in the US market and elsewhere in the world. Because of this we’ve heard rumors that MINI is considering radically changing the Clubman and/or simply killing it.

MINI Clubman

There are several factors at play. The four door MINI hatch may not be the best looking model the company produces but it delivers potentially the best bang for your buck in terms of size vs price. On the other end there’s the Countryman which is far more appealing to most in this age of the crossover. It’s also packed with a bit more utility (thanks to some clever packaging) and has a the rugged crossover appeal that is so sought after.

MINI Clubman

We recently spent a year with a JCW Clubman before stepping into our new JCW Countryman and the differences can be both subtle and striking. In short both are excellent products that, while arguably under-powered in JCW trim, compete very well against what else is out there. The Clubman is slightly quicker, more efficient and in our eyes the more unique of the two. Yet it’s the Countryman shape and added utility that people are looking for.

MINI Clubman

What is BMW’s Move with the MINI Clubman?

What MINI won’t likely do is kill the Clubman before it’s original end of life date (scheduled for 2021). In fact that may even be extended if rumors prove true that all of MINI’s current models will go past the typical seven year model cycle. So you have plenty of time to order. In fact we’ll be seeing a Clubman LCI in just a few months.

What MINI will soon be deciding however is how to replace the Clubman in its next generation of models. There are rumors of a smaller crossover and/or a total rethink of the Clubman. Either way the current wagonesque shape may go away.

What do you think? Should MINI kill the Clubman? If so what should replace it? Sound off below in the comments.

  • Jim Gallagher-Barker

    I’d like it if MINI would bring back the hardtop based Clubman. But that’s just me. I don’t know if the sales volume would be there, though.

    • Nick Dawson

      I agree with you that the F54 Clubman would have been more attractive, had it have been based on the F55 4-door Hardtop platform. It is understandable, however, why BMW didn’t go down that route.

      The cost of building the F54 on the larger UKL2 platform is only marginally greater than it would have been to build it on the smaller UKL1 platform, and by moving it up into the ‘C’ class – Golf/Focus – BMW could justify a higher RRP. In any case, the high cost of manufacture and assembly of those ‘barn doors’ would be the same.

  • SS56

    I like the Clubman over the Countryman. I would have thought they would kill off the four-door cooper. If they feel they really need to change the Clubman I’d say make it a true wagon by adding 12-18 inches to the cargo hold with a very flat roof.

  • Reuben Herries

    Agreed, the Clubman is (very arguably) the best MINI on sale right now…. but sales are sales and the numbers almost do not support it….just like the Convertible. Here in NZ anyhow. It would be a sad day, but maybe they can try some new configurations?

    bringbackminicommercial

  • heat_fan1

    I have a 2017 Clubman S and I love it. I got it to replace a 2-door GTI, and I enjoy the MINI far more. It’s the perfect size for my small family and it’s very fun to drive. When my lease runs out late next year, I’m strongly considering getting another, likely JCW. I insist on a manual, and there’s just nothing else out there.

    Now, by my next car around 2022, I may not feel so bad about it being gone. Still, it is definitely a fantastic car that deserves more love.

  • BMW has had no reticence in pumping out ‘coupe’ versions of their SUVs (i.e. X6, X4, & X2). To me the Clubman is the ‘coupe’ version of the Countryman.

    • Tell consumers that…

      There is also a 2-door CM variant, it’s called the Paceman… sold terribly.

      • The issue is the Clubman isnt selling much better despite having 3 more doors than a Paceman.

        • The Clubman isn’t selling because it doesn’t look like an SUV. It really is that simple. Car sales have tanked across the board and SUV sales have gone up by almost the same amount.

        • Tell that to Subaru and Audi. I am sure they will be shocked by your insight.

        • Wow… I’m actually stunned.

          Have you actually not noticed that both companies you cited as examples have scaled back sedan production, cancelled almost all of the wagons in North America and shifted production and advertising focus to CUVs and SUVs. Or are you just trolling? I strongly suspect the latter, but I’ll lay the evidence out for you anyway…

          The Legacy, WRX and STI wagons are long gone, and the new base impreza wagon is suffering (though the 20k base model is doing alright), literally all of the Audi Avants are gone except the e-tron.

          Almost all of Subarus growth has come from the Outback CUV as well as the Forester and Crosstrek SUVs. Audi saw an average 25% decline in cars and an offsetting increase in Q-series vehicles for a 3% net gain in total sales. In reaction to lower demand, both companies have also shifted car leases to have much lower residual values while leases of CUV/SUVs are more affordable thanks to higher residuals.

          Subaru sold more Outbacks in July than they have sold WRX/STI combined YTD despite near identical price points. It’s laughably easy to see which way the wind is blowing if you care to find out…

        • And it’s so sad to see really. The investment in interesting cars is simply winding down from most brands.

        • Definitely Gabe. I’ve been a closet wagonista since I was 14 and drove my Uncle’s Volvo 240 Diesel field car. I learned to drive in hay field in an unstoppable caged and harnessed manual rwd tank. Once MINI offered a proper wagon, I had to own one.

          His pride and joy was a 242 Turbo, but my personal favourite was a 240 GLT Turbo wagon that was tuned to around 350 bhp and 390 lb-ft of torque.These cars were my introduction to analog turbos and I didn’t understand how stupid fast they were for their time until ten years after his death. At Cayuga that car would do a 0-100 kph sprint in 4.8 and a quarter mile in 12.9-13.2 seconds depending on his shifts and temperature. That thing is STILL faster than my DINAN tuned 2017 Clubman JCW and that beast was built in the mid-80s and turned into a drag monster in the early-90s.

          Sadly, I was too young when he died of cancer to be in a position to rescue either car from the estate sale and I don’t have any VIN information that could help me track them down now now that I could afford them. I still hope they are out there and that his work is putting a smile on their drivers faces and a scowl on the faces of anyone that tries to roll them…

        • Wow! Sounds like an incredible car and a more incredible man. Maybe one day you can be reunited with at least one of his cars.

  • Sal

    I think that if they took the size of the first gen Countryman added some of the Paceman’s sportier aspects and the double rear doors they’d have a nifty crossover which is the kind of model they are lacking. It would then play in the same marketplace as the BMW x1&2x CRV, Rogue, RAV4, Crosstrek etc.

  • dwj5

    I’m a week into JCW Clubman ownership and absolutely love the experience so far. Had an e91 touring and then an f31 touring prior to the clubman. While very competent, the f31 just never seemed as fun as the e91. The JCW Clubman brings the fizz back and then some, in a tidy (non SUV/CUV), urban-friendly, utilitarian package that seats five – something that is otherwise difficult to find in BMW’s US portfolio. Sales dictate product planning, but it will be a real shame to lose the clubman as an option.

  • SF Dede

    I think the Clubman Off-road Concept might suggest the right path – happy crossover wagon compromise.

    Add just a few inches to the trunk, and (sacrilege) get rid of the barn doors. Barn doors are problematic in dense urban environments and have a safety issue with frame blocking the center rear view.

    And oh, 100% electric option, with plugin hybrid as base. By the time this would hit the market, I can’t see 100% ICE being the right answer.

    • Don Hopings

      If you see the barn doors, you’re looking at the wrong thing. You should be looking OUTSIDE of the car…

      • SF Dede

        Good on you for owning the original. I hate the barn doors. I love most everything else but the barn doors. They are the sole reason I did not buy one. And if you’re suggesting by your comment that I don’t practice good situational awareness while driving, you’re mistaken. I always know what’s going on around me and have been able to avoid several potential accidents (and tickets) by seeing the full view behind me. I simply don’t like a blind spot in the center of my rear view. Also I live in a dense urban environment and street parking is at a premium. When someone is parked close behind you, the barn doors make access difficult at best. A hatch would be better. If I lived elsewhere where this problem is less common, that probably wouldn’t bother me. For some the barn doors are an endearing quirk. For me they’re a design flaw, especially when there’s another solution. Just my opinion. You’re entitled to yours.

  • Mr Remi

    The two options I see (other than killing it) are:

    (1) change the styling of the body to look more SUVish or cross-overish,

    (2) be the first to market with a electric wagon.

    Option 1 is redundant. Option 2 is not possible for BMW to execute. So ya, basically, it’s dead.

    I appreciate the gains and functionality of today’s model, but I miss the look and dimensions of the old clubperson.

    If I could wave my unrealistic, pipe dream magic wand, this super hero dies and makes way for a new super hero such as a Superleggera or a really small MINI (with no overhang).

  • Nick Dawson

    The BMW X1, X2 and the F60 Countryman are SAVs of course, not SUVs, whereas the F54 Clubman is, unashamedly, a Wagon.

    The F54 Clubman’s biggest weakness, however, is its lack of height. More often than not customers who buy SAVs do so for the security – whether perceived or actual – that riding higher provides. A taller car is also more comfortable to get in and out of and generally more practical to live with.

    BMW X1 174.76ins L x 71.69ins W x 62.91ins H BMW X2 171.70ins L x 71.80ins W x 60.08ins H MINI F60 169.25ins L x 71.70ins W x 61.30ins H MINI F54 167.44ins L x 70.87ins W x 56.19ins H MINI F55 157.67ins L x 67.99ins W x 56.10ins H

  • darex

    Club doors should be replaced with a proper hatch, and then the car should replace the 4-door Hardtop outright, unless that would make it too similar to the Countryman to justify its existence. Otherwise, they should probably just drop the model entirely.

  • b-

    Would love to see the 2 door clubman with the passenger side club-door make it’s way back. I don’t like short, sedan style 4-door vehicles.

  • glangford

    Shame. If I got back into a MIni it would be a Clubman.

  • Don Hopings

    If nothing else, MINI/BMW seem to be pretty good at creating instant collectibles: the Paceman, the Roadster and the Coupe…

    • Nick Dawson

      True. At the peak of MINI R-series global sales in 2013, the R56 Hardtop and the R60 Countryman accounted for 75% of total sales. It took FIVE more models to make up the remaining 25%.

      R56 Hardtop 42% R60 Countryman 33%

      R55 Clubman 7% R57 Convertible 7% R58 Coupe 3% R59 Roadster 3% R61 Paceman 5%

      From a R&D and production point of view, the R58/59 Twins were effectively the same car, so it leaves the R61 Paceman wearing the crown for the poorest seller.

      BMW should have had another winner on its hands with the Paceman, and the idea was certainly a good one, but it’s execution was appallingly cynical. Potential customers saw it for what it was – a 2-door Countryman, but with everything that made the Countryman great taken out, and a higher price.

  • EM1

    I had owned a 2017 Countryman and should have got the Clubman instead. If they do launch a newer Clubman, Mini seriously needs to address the blindspot issue with the small window barn doors. Perhaps get a rear camera mirror as seen in Infiniti and Cadillac products as standard.

    • You’re in luck. The backup camera is actually federally mandated safety requirement since 2017. All MINIs have had it since then as standard. I can tell you it does help but having had a Clubman for two years you quickly forget about that bar in the middle.

  • Knute

    The only issue with the current Clubman is the brake lights… why they didn’t integrate them into the large ones on the doors and put them in the bumper is the only thing wrong with this design!

    • Scott Eaves

      Not the only thing, but a huge one for sure. It’s very odd that the brake lights are in the bumper and not in the HUGE lights staring other drivers in the face.

  • Nick Dawson

    According to global market analyst JATO Dynamics, the biggest news from the first half of the year was the increase in the dominant position of SUVs, which now count for almost 36% of passenger cars sales worldwide. Almost 15 million SUVs were sold in the first six months of 2018, up by a solid 14%, a record for this vehicle type.

    Volume grew in 10 of the 11 key regions, with double-digit growth in 8, and a drop of 4% in Japan. SUVs are very popular in the USA, China, Canada and Russia, but are still lagging behind other segments in Latin America, Japan and India. This is good news however, as it shows that SUVs still have growth potential in those key markets.