The proliferation of crossovers has virtually killed the station wagon in the U.S., but if you like the idea of a vehicle with lots of cargo space, but don’t like the idea of riding high, here’s one for you.
The last Clubman’s hearse-like profile remains, but the suicide rear half-doors have been replaced by conventional, full-size doors. At the back, the Clubman still has two rear cargo doors, like what you’d normally find on a van.
To make room for those bigger rear doors, Mini lengthened the Clubman by 10.9 inches, and also widened it by 2.9 inches. As with other recent Mini models, the Clubman is small by modern car standards, but not exactly “mini.”
In addition to bulking up like the other recent Mini variants, the Clubman adopts their styling cues. The traditional Mini headlights and grille have been massged for the bigger shape, and on the inside the Clubman now features a conventional gauge cluster, with the giant central disc now used for infotainment displays.
Engine choices mirror those of the Mini hatchbacks. The base Cooper Clubman gets a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque (169 lb-ft with the overboost function).
Stepping up to the sportier Cooper S Clubman nets a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 189 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque (221 lb-ft with overboost). Both models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is available on the Cooper, while the Cooper S gets an eight-speed auto.
Mini says the Cooper Clubman will do 0 to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds with either transmission, and reach a top speed of 127 mph. The Cooper S will do 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds with the automatic and 7.0 seconds with the manual. Its top speed is 142 mph.
Drivers can also adjust the car’s behavior with three modes — Sport, Green, and Mid — and the Clubman is available with several electronic aids, including Park Distance Control, adaptive cruise control, and a collision warning system with automatic braking.
There’s also an available head-up display with speed-limit information, and the standard Mini Connected infotainment system with smartphone connectivity for Apple and certain Android phones. A 6.5-inch display screen is standard, and an 8.8-inch screen is optional.
The new Mini Clubman will debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and go on sale in the U.S. in January 2016.