How would it feel to drive a car that expresses your state of mind?

Munich – ‘It’s a big challenge to develop the appearance of a MINI – which is so defining and familiar around the world – in such a way that you retain the iconic element but always take a step into the future,’ said Oliver Heilmer, vice president of MINI Design, back in Frame 124 (2018). ‘It’s a fine balancing act.’ A balancing act that requires a lot of foresight, since the car you see on the shop floor most likely took a few years of development to get there. Each unique design evolves, step by step, from the first idea and sketch through to clay and CAD modelling – and then, of course, the end result. For the updated MINI Cooper Clubman series, which launched last summer, Heilmer and team paid loving attention to details, both visually and functionally.

The Clubman, with the brand’s signature comfortable ride and creative use of space, is a modern interpretation of the classic shooting brake style car body. In the 1890s, shooting brakes were horse-drawn wagons that transported shooting parties. A decade later, the first automotive shooting brakes appeared in the UK and trended during the 1920s and ’30s. 

Today’s version features four side doors, five seats and a versatile luggage compartment stowed behind a pair of split doors. The car's different look offers clues to its evolved functionality. Drivers may choose from a spectrum of functions in a generous package of custom options, making the Clubman not just a vehicle to drive, but one for self-expression.

With the release of the MINI Cooper Clubman series, the BMW Group may be launching one of the most individualizable cars on the market, with a programme dedicated to managing customers' loads of options.

 

Skim down a list of the car’s latest features and it becomes clear why its makers describe the MINI Clubman as ‘a stylish individualist’. The car offers a motherlode of choices ranging from innovative equipment to cutting-edge digital services and connectivity (clever and ever-online, the car has its own SIM card), as well as operational tech. The MINI Yours programme is dedicated to facilitating customization from Union Jack perforations on the headrests and illuminated cockpit bezel to seat upholstery and piping on floor mats.

First, the new front design features a graphical, hexagonally contoured radiator grill that extends across the entire bumper with the air inlet divided into six black, horizontal struts (that can be upgraded to chrome). It has a robustly domed bonnet and sculpted proportions –sporty, à la MINI – with an elongated roof line and a precipitously pitched rear. The split doors offer two laterally opening wings, making the Clubman the only compact model on the market to offer six doors. But the six doors aren’t skin-deep: they add versatility in the form of a luggage compartment that can be extended from 360 litres to as much as 1,250 litres. 

MINI once again demonstrates its design savvy in the Clubman, with granular attention to detail and cleverly abstracted brand design, including Union Jack patterns in the light compositions and, optionally, on headrests.

There are new goodies like light alloy wheels (with options for larger wheels in a variety of proprietary designs), a broad selection of audio and navigational systems, a high-end sports suspension (with the option of adaptive suspension) that can lower the car by 10 mm – intensifying the sporty feel of the ride – and an extended range of accessories. 

Sure, the Clubman offers three new colour variants, and even a few alternatives to body colour, as well as a fresh batch of leather trims and interior surfaces. But customization extends to items like the engines: three petrol and three diesel engines, with output ranging from 75 kW/102 hp to 141 kW/192 hp that customers can pair with an all-wheel drive system, ALL4. 

Designers abstracted the Union Jack, with boldface graphical beauty, in the Clubman's wheel structure.

Lighting also offers more aesthetic and functional choices. Designers integrated the daytime driving light into the parking lights in the circular headlamps. Optional LED fog lamps take the place of standard parking lights and LED rear lights-cum-brake lights are available in an abstracted Union Jack composition. The optional LED headlamps for low and high beam generate enhanced brightness via a white ring of light surrounding the headlamps that serves as daytime driving light and turn indicator. New adaptive LED headlamps with high beam Matrix function offer an inlaid turning light and automatically adapt their brightness to road conditions. In city traffic, when weather limits visibility, or at high speeds, drivers can illuminate the sides of the road more intensely by switching on the dimmed turning light. Additionally, they can increase the range of the high beam – without blinding passers-by – via a high beam divided into four segments that the driver can activate and deactivate independently of each other. And when the car’s front camera senses a vehicle ahead or oncoming, it can illuminate the area around that vehicle with low beams only.

It’s understandable if customers just like the MINI look. But for those who additionally want to drill down the athleticism and style-consciousness through a myriad of mechanical and technical options, it's possible to actually make a MINI Clubman almost completely, uniquely yours.

bmwgroup.com

mini.co.uk

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