Overall: Following a one-year absence, BMW’s Mini division is bringing back the Clubman to reign as the flagship model.
Drivetrain: Base Clubman uses a turbocharged three-cylinder engine; S version gets a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder; six-speed manual and automatic transmissions for both.
The return of the Clubman is significant for the Mini brand, as it will be positioned atop a lineup that previously excused the two-seat Coupe and Roadster and will soon cancel the coupe-like Paceman. The thinning of the ranks is lamentable, but there’s more in store with the glamorous Superleggera Vision roadster (its concept name) that is rumored to arrive within a couple of years. Compared to the basic Mini Cooper, the Clubman is nearly 11 inches longer, three inches wider and has a four-inch advantage between the front and rear wheels. Proportionally, the five-passenger Clubman looks much more attractive than its predecessor and its four full-size doors are way more practical than the single rear half-door found on the original model. For stowage access, the Clubman retains its signature side-hinged “church doors” in place of a more common liftgate. They might not be the most practical of portals, but on the newest Clubman iteration they look pretty neat. For motivation, the base Clubman uses a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that’s rated at 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The S version receives a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet. Both powerplants can be connected to six-speed manual transmissions, or optional automatics (six speeds for the 1.5 and eight for the 2.0). The folks at Mini are quoting a zero-to-60-mph time of 8.9 seconds for the 1.5, with either the manual or automatic trans, and 6.9 seconds for the 2.0 with the automatic (both engines burn premium fuel). The latest in convenience and driver assistance packages can be added to the Clubman, but as with all BMW products, the bottom-line price can jump pretty high if you’re not careful.