The Mature MINI
by John K. Lindgren
Many MINIs but only one six-door, five-seater – the CLUBMAN. Stylish, practical and German built. Turbocharged. Goes like a bat out of hell.
MINI has grown up. In Thailand the current model range includes the regular three-door and five-door hatchbacks, the convertible (cabriolet) and the countryman. Now, there is a new MINI station wagon, the largest, most practical and sophisticated MINI with those iconic, eye-catching retro split rear doors and a top-notch interior outfitted with premium materials, high-tech features and cutting-edge power train technology.
Design: The prolonged roofline and a longer wheelbase displays elongated station wagon style. Yet, its aerodynamic architecture and bonnet scoop indicate that it’s just as intent as ever on carving up some mischief on the highways and byways.
They say the devil is in the details. Case in point the cool illuminated shark fin antenna cum beacon on the roof. For personalization there are 11 outstanding exterior colors to choose from. Our tester came in striking Pure Burgundy Metallic. Style impressions: Front view: the trademark large MINI circular LED headlights and that mighty hexagonal radiator grille. Side view: long wheelbase and delightfully short overhangs. The rear: the split doors (barn doors) with double windscreen wipers. And the oversized, stylish, elongated horizontal LED taillights. “J’adore!”, the Frenchman would say.
Interior: English elegance, sophistication, hence the name Clubman. Cross punch pure burgundy leather, bolstered and powered front seats for pilot and passenger. More MINI design DNA: the circular accents all over the cockpit. Like the huge color changing disk-shaped infotainment and navigation center with 8.8-inch high-resolution screen boasting a 20 gigabyte server. For the audiophiles a high-end Harman Kardon concert sound system. The new center console frees up space by ditching the traditional handbrake for an electronic one. The rear is accessed by two full-sized doors with ample space for up to three passengers with generous head and leg room. Storage area? 360 liters. Not enough? Rear seats folded. Voila! A whopping 1,250 liters. Easy to load and offload thanks to a head-turning kick-open split doors comfort access system.
Powertrain: Underneath the hood (bonnet) lurks the state-of the-art BMW engineered 2-liter twin-power, petrol turbo engine mated to a quick shifting, seamless eight-speed automatic transmission providing front-wheel traction with maximum grip. The Clubman is built for proactive driving. The rear boasts sporty twin tailpipes with an intoxicating exhaust note especially in the “Sport” mode. The Clubman runs on 18-inch cool black alloy wheels with low-profile run-flat tyres.
Driving experience: No have Stop/Start button! But a cool MINI aircraft inspired red toggle switch ignition. Fire up the two-liter engine and engage the drive mode selector: Sport, Mid, and Green. I choose the Sport option and the red circular ring around MINI Center Instrument lights up striking bright red. Once you push the throttle. The FUN starts! BMW calls it “Sheer driving pleasure”. Yes, the Clubman is bigger and longer. But, it still drives like a MINI with that distinctive go-kart feel that will put a smile on your face. Trust me! On Pattaya Today Life & Leisure Bangkok-Chonburi-Sattahip test drive the MINI Clubman Cooper S performed flawlessly regarding acceleration, braking and overall handling. And those super powerful LED headlights to light up dark upcountry roads for safe driving.
Did you know that the first Mini aka Austin Mini designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, launched in 1960 had no radio but three ashtrays. Mr Issigonis said, “no need for radio – but we do smoke!” The engine was a dinky 850 cc Austin motor.
Today 2017 the original concept still remains: Wide track, long wheelbase, short overhangs. Put them all together and you’ve got pure MINI driving excitement.
Verdict & Price: More style, space and practicality plus German engineering with kick-ass power! MINI Clubman comes in four petrol and one diesel version. Base model Clubman Cooper price: 2.38 million baht, Clubman Cooper Diesel 2.68 million baht. The top spec MINI Clubman Cooper S Hightrim with panorama glass roof at 3.28 million baht. Our test drive MINI Clubman Cooper S price: 3.08 million baht.
For Pattaya residents a test drive is recommended at German Auto Pattaya: BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad multi-brand showroom in Na Jomtien. Tel: 038 235 600.
MINI Clubman Cooper S
Price: 3,080,000 baht
Engine: 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo Petrol
Power: 192 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
Transmission: Front-wheel drive 8-speed automatic
Average fuel consumption: 16.9 km/l
Top speed: 228 km/h