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2015 MINI Clubman Makes Debut, Malaysian Introduction Expected in 2016

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2015 MINI Clubman Makes Debut, Malaysian Introduction Expected in 2016

If you think that MINI dropped the eccentric and unique 5-Door MINI Clubman for the more conventional and practical MINI 5-Door, you would be mistaken. The Clubman is back, this time with four normal doors and two split style doors at the back (making it a 6 door if you may). We are reporting from Berlin as we witness the international debut of the new MINI Clubman. 

What’s new?
Aside from having four normal front-hinged doors for occupants, the new Clubman has grown substantially larger, and is the largest MINI model so far. Measuring in at 4,253mm long (271mm longer than the MINI 5 door), with a wheelbase that has been extended to 2,670mm (103mm longer than the MINI 5 door), stands in at 1,441mm tall, and sits 1,800mm wide (a whole 73mm wider than the standard MINI and MINI 5 door), the Clubman is big by MINI's standards and represents the brand’s first step into what they define as the “premium compact class”. In terms of footprint size it even dwarfs the sizeable Countryman SUV. However despite its size, MINI claims that it is considered small in its segment, being relatively shorter than other cars found in the premium compact segment.

Built on the UKL 2 platform, denoted as UKL 2 for its bigger dimensions compared to the UKL platform that is used to underpin the current MINI 3 door hatch and 5 door hatch, the Clubman stays true to the design cues that was already previewed on the MINI Clubman Concept that was shown at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. For production, the Clubman features a simpler and similar front snout and front fenders to those fitted to the rest of the MINI hatch range.

What did stay with the production Clubman however is MINI’s first application of BMW’s aerodynamic enhancing Air Curtains and Air Breathers vents that smoothens the airflow in the wheel arches. The Air Curtains comprises of vertically arranged openings in the outer sections of the lower air intake, while the Air Breathers peeks out from behind the Black Band surrounds of the front wheel arches. These slats are said to reduce turbulence in the wheel well, thus leading to cleaner air flow and better fuel efficiency.  

While the Clubman’s signature two-piece rear tailgate is retained, with the horizontal taillight design seen on the concept, the doors are now stretched to wrap around the sides of the body, allowing the doors to open up to a wider aperture than what was seen in its predecessor.  Specced with the Comfort Access option, the Clubman's rear tailgate can be opened automatically where the keyholder would only have to move their leg under the bumper to open the right side. Move it again and the system will then proceed to open the left piece, if neccessary. 

The rear door window frames, which was a major bugbear on its predecessor has been amended here with the fitment of narrower window frame. This is achieved through to the use of a single sealant used on the left rear door instead of both rear doors, thus improving rear visibility. Even with placing the sealant on door panel, MINI maintains that the door is able to prevent any water from entering the cabin.  

On top of the roof, the car's shark's fin shaped antenna comes with a red LED fixture that is said to replace the alarm blinker light that is normally found near the wing mirror. MINI says that this unique design feature plays a cheeky role in helping drivers locate their car, and is inspired by the positioning light that you would find on airplanes.  

New Drivetrain Options Under the Bonnet
The Clubman range features new powertrain combinations with a new 4-cylinder diesel engine for the MINI Cooper D Clubman being the key highlight to the range, complementing the Clubman’s range of traditional Cooper and Cooper S variants, with its 1.5-litre 3-cylinder and 2-litre 4-cylinder engine used in its MINI 3 door and 5 door hatch models respectively. The engine choices are as follows:

MINI Cooper Clubman: 136PS/230Nm (with Overboost), 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 0-100km/h in 9.1 seconds, 205km/h top speed, 5.3L/100km average NEDC fuel consumption

MINI Cooper S Clubman: 192PS/300Nm (with Overboost), 2-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 0-100km/h in 7.1 seconds, 228km/h top speed, 5.9L/100km average NEDC fuel consumption

MINI Cooper D Clubman: 150PS/330Nm, 2-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel, 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds, 212km/h top speed, 4.4L/100km average NEDC fuel consumption

Though all three variants are available with a 6-speed manual, which has a function that will automatically match your engine revs on downshifts, as standard, the Cooper S Clubman and Cooper D Clubman are MINI’s first variants to be available with an optional 8-speed transmission. The poverty-spec Cooper Clubman on the other hand retains the 6-speed automatic, as fitting the engine's peak torque figures would be able to make full use of the breath of the 8-speed automatic's ability. All automatic transmissions are paired up to the satellite navigation system to draw navigation data for the purpose of gear and shift point selection according to the route profile.

The Clubman can be specified with the optional MINI Driving Modes, which allows drivers to tweak the throttle mapping and transmission shift points between the standard ‘Mid’ and ‘Sport’ modes from the ring switch place around the gearshift. The ‘Green’ setting on the other hand allows the automatic transmission to decouple itself from the engine and enter a coasting function at speeds of between 50 and 160km/h.

No doubt this model range will be followed up with more engine choices including the John Cooper Works performance variant at a later date.

Bigger and Classier on the Inside

It goes without saying, its larger dimensions does translate into additional interior room with five fully-fledged seats. The rear seats can be specified with an optional 40:20:40 split folding rear seats that can be reclined. Round the back the Clubman boasts a large cargo compartment of 360 litres, which can be expanded to 1,250 litres with the rear seats folded down. Upfront the Clubman’s dashboard sports a new design that is different from what is seen on the MINI 3 door and 5 door, with a horizontal decorative trim piece that stretches the width of the dashboard and wraps around it.

MINI points out that the Clubman has a raised centre console, and forgoes the traditional mechanical handbrake lever for a more space-efficient electronic switch. That being said, the Clubman still adopts the same familiar instrumentation and switchgear such as the compact instrument cluster, MINI’s hallmark LED-ringed centre instrument cluster still dominates the dashboard and houses the infotainment screen, and the ensemble of MINI toggle switches on the centre console and roof are still present.

That being said, the MINI Clubman features a new option for electrical seat adjustment for the front occupants, with the driver's seat fitted with the addtion of memory seat functionality. 

To highlight the brand's new foray into the "premium compact car" segment, the Clubman was unveiled with a plush leather interior that comes with the new "Chester" pattern diamond-stitched leather upholstery that is complemented by leather piping. 

Loaded with Features
On the safety front the Clubman is well appointed with six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control that also includes a drive-off assistant, brake dry function, fading brake support, and Dynamic Traction Control. Even with the stability system deactivated, the Clubman still has an electronic locking function for the front axle known as the Electronic Differential Lock Control torque vectoring feature which is able to distribute power or apply the brakes to a specific wheel to improve cornering sped and traction.

As for other driver aids, the Clubman can be specified with autonomous Parking Assistant, a camera-based Driving Assistant cruise control and distance control function that automatically maintains a distance from the vehicle ahead, as well as a collision and pedestrian warning system with initial brake function. The Driving Assistant also includes road sign detection for speed limits and overtaking bans, and features a high-beam assistant.

When will we see it?
According to BMW Group Malaysia, don’t expect to see the Clubman make it appearance this year. As of yet, it is too early to pin down an exact date, but BMW Malaysia says that we can expect it sometime next year. 

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