Love MINIs but need more trunk for your junk? Well, the folks at MINI have come through for you with their new MINI Cooper Clubman. Technically the idea isn’t new, the original Minis, as manufactured by Morris Motors in the 1960s had a station wagon-like model called the Traveler. The Travelers were quite popular at the time and Morris Motors sold quite a few of them.
Today’s version, the MINI Cooper Clubman however, is less utilitarian and can be described as a bit more like a “sports wagon”. To start it is based on the wonderful styling of the standard MINI Cooper but has a longer wheelbase and a larger cargo area. It is tempting to draw the conclusion that that the Clubman couldn’t have the handling of a standard MINI because of its larger size and weight but reviewers say it is just about as nimble and racy on the road as the standard MINI models. Kudos to the engineers at MINI for making this a priority. Another piece of good news, although the Clubman represents a fair amount more car than the standard MINI Cooper does, it is priced just above standard MINIs.
Like the Standard MINIs, the Clubman offers the standard-aspirated and turbocharged 1.6 liter engines with HP of 121 and 181 respectfully. Transmissions available are the six-speed manual and the optional six-speed automatic. Both offer outstanding gas mileage in the 27 mpg (city) and 36 mpg (highway) range.
Drivers that actually use the rear seats will find the 2012 Clubman a welcome upgrade over the hatchback models. The extended size and extra wheelbase offers much-needed legroom, and the rear-hinged door on the passenger side makes access far easier. As the title of the article suggests, there is a lot more room for stuff in the back of the Clubman.
One of the most endearing features of the original Mini design was the centrally- mounted speedometer/instrument panel and tachometer mounted on the steering column. Thankfully, 50 years later, this iconic dash layout remains the same. Today’s versions look a fair amount more polished but still evoke the quirky look of the original Minis.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have scored the 2012 MINI Clubman in crash test ratings, however the standard model has performed quite well in safety crash ratings. It would be reasonable to expect that the Clubman version will do just as well. According to MINI, standard features are anti-lock brakes, six airbags, stability control and hill-start assist while upgrade options like adaptive headlights and parking sensors can are available.
Like other MINIs, the Clubman can be extensively customized. Owners can choose from: unique vinyl decals, a variety of paint colors, lots of technology upgrades and a wide range of performance options. MINI comments that all these options add up to more than 10 million possible combinations. For those who want the Clubman in race trim, the folks at MINI of Baltimore (serving Washington DC) tell us that the Clubman is offered in John Cooper Works trim. As the image above illustrates, the John Cooper Works models are very striking automobiles and are in high demand.