2008 MINI Cooper Clubman Preview
By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2007
- Five-door version of the popular MINI Cooper
- Extended length and wheelbase increase cargo capacity
- Rear seat passengers gain legroom
- Standard and "S" models offered
- Long list of standard safety equipment
- Unique "Clubdoor" access on the passenger's side of the vehicle
- Available turbocharged version with 175 hp
In 1959, nearly one-half century ago, the first "Mini" took to the road. Designed to be small and economical, the first Morris Mini-Minor maximized passenger and luggage space in a package just 120 inches long, and with an engine output of just 34 hp. While the first Mini was small and slow, the ultra light platform riding on 10-inch wheels pushed to the furthest corners of the chassis offered a side benefit to enthusiast drivers-go-kart-like handling.
In 2000, BMW (the new owner of the Mini brand) announced a successor to the original "Mini" based on the same winning small-car formula. This time, the MINI would benefit from BMW's engineering and safety prowess. The 2001 MINI Cooper, a 3-door hatchback, was an instant success. Now, following on the tradition of the legendary Morris Mini Traveller, the new 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman is like nothing else on the road.
From the front, a casual observer would have a difficult time differentiating the 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman from its sibling, the MINI Cooper. The Cooper Clubman sports the characteristic large round headlights (a familiar MINI signature), and the same front fenders, hood, and windshield. In fact, both models share design and body structure up to the B-pillar. The changes are behind the driver's ears. Compared to the MINI Cooper, the Clubman offers nearly ten more inches of body length, and a wheelbase extension of more than three inches. The MINI Cooper's three doors are replaced by five on the Clubman. On the passenger's side, a suicide-style "Clubdoor" allows dramatically increased access to the rear seating area. In the rear, a split-door design replaces the liftgate, improving access for loading and unloading of cargo.
Two different versions of the MINI Cooper Clubman will be initially launched in the United States. (A third model, the MINI Cooper Clubman D, will offer a low-emission diesel powerplant but there are currently no plans to offer the diesel in the US market). The standard model is the MINI Clubman. It is equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder developing 120 hp. The MINI Cooper Clubman S offers the highest performance from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger, increasing rated output to 175 hp. The MINI Cooper Clubman is equipped with standard 15-inch wheels. The performance-oriented MINI Cooper Clubman S features 16-inch rims with run-flat tires. Sport packages, and a long list of options and customizations, are available on either model.
All MINI Coopers are built with a wide "Bulldog" stance, an ultra-rigid body, and equipped with a performance suspension for sporting driving. Compared to the MINI Cooper, the front-wheel drive Clubman's suspension is specifically calibrated to the needs of the larger chassis and longer wheelbase. The front suspension is comprised of MacPherson struts while in the rear, thanks to BMW Group's involvement in the design, the Clubman touts a central-arm rear axle (sophisticated and unique in this segment).
Powering the standard MINI Cooper Clubman is an alloy 1.6-liter, transversely mounted, inline 4-cylinder engine. In this configuration, it is rated at 120 hp. The 1.6-liter engine on the MINI Cooper Clubman S uses forced induction, in the form of a twin-scroll turbocharger, to boost horsepower to 175.
The turbocharged MINI also receives upgraded suspension, tuned to reflect the vehicle's additional power. Both models share the same 6-speed manual transmission and a 6-speed automatic, with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, is available. Acceleration from O-60 mph is estimated to be less than nine seconds for the standard model, with the turbocharged S model knocking about two seconds off that figure.
All versions of the MINI Clubman feature Electrical Power Assisted Steering (EPAS). This system saves weight when compared to a conventional hydraulic steering system. It is designed to offer precise steering feedback and razor-sharp reflexes by electrically generating power-assist only when it is needed.
The 2008 MINI Cooper Clubman, in both trim levels, is equipped with an acronym-filled list of standard safety equipment. These include anti-lock brakes (ABS), Corner Brake Control (CBC), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Automatic Stability Control (ASC), and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). A flat tire monitoring system is also standard. All of these electronic systems are designed to keep the MINI Clubman on the road, comfortably between the painted stripes.
If an accident is unavoidable, a standard "Crash Sensor" automatically turns on the hazard lights, interior lights, unlocks the doors, and cuts off the flow of fuel after impact. The driver and passenger are protected by dual-stage deployment "smart" airbags in the dashboard as well as airbags in the sides of the front seats. In addition to the front and side airbags, there is also a standard Advanced Head Protection System II (AHPSII) curtain airbag covering both rows of passengers. The rear seats are equipped with ISOFIX child restraint anchorages (LATCH system).
The MINI Cooper Clubman may be small in stature, but it is big on technology. In addition to the previously touted list of standard technology-based safety systems, all versions of the MINI can be equipped with automatic dimming mirrors, rain sensors, keyless comfort access, automatic headlamps, universal garage door openers, and Bluetooth phone preparation.
The standard audio system features six speakers, AM/FM radio, and a CD player. A "Hi-Fi" CD Audio System, with ten upgraded speakers, is available. The audio can also be upgraded further to satellite or high-definition radio. MINI offers an on-board trip computer as standard. A digital navigation system, with real-time traffic information, is optional on both versions of the Clubman. The MINI is also fitted with an engine immobilizer with coded driveway protection and remote keyless entry as standard equipment.
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