Exclusive: In Sweden for Mini Clubman launch
Mini has revealed the all-new Clubman at an international launch in Sweden, with the six-door wagon to go on sale in New Zealand on November 1.
The second-generation version of the Clubman, under BMW Group, will be available in New Zealand in two petrol variants: the 1.5-litre, three cylinder Cooper priced at $39,900; and a 2-litre, four cylinder Cooper S at $49,900.
BMW New Zealand’s communications manager, Edward Finn, said the Cooper would come with a six-speed manual (with the $3000 option for the auto) while the Cooper S would have an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard or you could option the manual.
“We envisage the new model will be complementary to the Mini range and we anticipate it will attract new buyers to the brand, especially people who require enhanced flexibility and versatility with regards to interior packaging options,” Finn told Driven exclusively.
The new Clubman is 4253mm long, 1800mm wide with a height of 1441, with a boot capacity of 360 litres but if you fold down the rear seats you get 1250 litres.
The new Clubman also gains six doors over the previous generation’s five that had a half door by the driver’s side.
“Some new owners will utilise [the Clubman] for commercial applications, and there will be particular appeal for businesses who require a distinctive five-seater, six door model in their fleet – but also a car which still offers an engaging and dynamic drive,” said Finn.
The front-wheel-drive Clubman will sit in Mini NZ’s lineup alongside the five-door hatch and the SUV-style Countryman.
The Clubman’s interior is one of the most stylish in the Mini group with attention paid to customer feedback of wanting a cleaner instrument panel.
Sitting in the centre of the dash is a large circle housing the infotainment functions including the satnav while the speedo sits in front of the driver in a smaller circle.
The dash has a large oval surround encompassing it, which is similar to the front grille’s oval surround.
There is impressive head and legroom for rear passengers while, like the five-door hatch, the middle cushion in the back seat is suitable for a child or to accommodate an adult for a short trip only.
But at the Sweden launch, Mini decided to focus on long trips, with day one heading away from the airport to north of Stockholm taking in a combination of motorway, tiny country roads and main roads.
Only the Cooper S was available for the international media at the Sweden launch with the six-speed manual and eight-speed auto available.
First up for the 140km day one trip was the auto, that paired well with the vehicle and when more input was needed I simply switched into sport mode and knocked the gear stick into manual function.
With a speed limit of 70km/h in most of the country roads, it was too easy to go well above and while the 1360kg Clubman didn’t have the go kart-esque drive of the smaller Minis it gained points for sporty steering and firmness on the road.
On day two, it was a chance to try the six-speed manual in a 100km segment out of Stockholm to Uppsala, famous setting for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novel, then to the airport north of the capital.
As it was a sunny Saturday morning the country roads were busy with cyclists and eager skier on long roller blades using ski poles to propel them.
The frequent decrease in speed along the undulating country roads to make way for cyclists and roller blading skiers meant the gearbox had a work out, with it sitting comfortable in fourth gear and once I hit the 110km/h motorway, I needed to engage sixth.
The Clubman is the first Mini to gain the eight-speed though a BMW project manager couldn’t confirm if other models in the line up would get the transmission.