Mini have decided to streamline their model range, dropping the gimmicky models and sticking with what works. Reuben van Niekerk reports
Although Mini have decided to consolidate their model range, reducing it to five core models, the Clubman and Convertible will remain. The Clubman continues as an innovative vehicle concept that offers a unique combination of functionality, everyday practicality and long-distance suitability while still being fun to drive.
The new generation Clubman sees a different interpretation of the traditional Clubman that was first seen in 1969 when its wheelbase grew by 10 cm compared to the standard Mini. And the growing has continued since.
A powerful front section with inlets for air curtains as well as side air breathers behind the front wheel arches, add to a purposeful look. A dynamically stretched silhouette with four doors gives this Clubman much better proportions than any of its predecessors, with the lengthening looking like less of an afterthought as the shoulder contour now emphasises the width of the car. The rear retains split rear doors that house a Clubman inscription and horizontal lights.
The Clubman has grown up in terms of versatility, space and product substance with more generous interior and exterior dimensions, boasting five fully-fledged seats, 360 litres of boot space and folding rear seats that will see this space increased to 1250 litres. A unique feature in this segment is the Comfort Access option that includes non-contact opening of the split doors at the rear.
The interior too has been completely redesigned and now features a broad instrument panel with cockpit facia frame in the upper section and instrument cluster on the steering column as some of the highlights.
The new Clubman comes with two engine choices, both featuring TwinPower Turbo Technology, the 3-cylinder in the Cooper boasts 100kW at 4400rpm and 220Nm from 1250rpm. It will use 5,3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
The four-cylinder in the Cooper S produces 141kW at 5000rpm and 280Nm from 1250rpm and is said to use 6,3 litres per 100km. Both engine variants are available with a 6-speed manual transmission while the automatic options include a 8-speed Steptronic in the Cooper S or a 6-speed Steptronic in the Cooper.
Optional features include the Mini Driving modes, standard on the Cooper S, where a rotary switch at the base of the gear lever allows the driver to activate Mid, Sport and Green modes. These modes tune the acceleration curve, shift dynamics of the Steptronic transmission and Dynamic Damper Control accordingly.
Optional driver assistance systems include a Head-Up Display, collision and pedestrian warning with initial brake function, high beam assistant, road sign detection, Parking assistant and rear view camera and the complete Mini Connected in-car infotainment program
Another stalwart of the Mini range, the Convertible has also been given a thorough once over. The Mini convertible remains the only premium convertible in the small car segment and has retained the qualities that have made it popular despite being significantly modernised.
It takes just 18 seconds to combine the driving fun of a Mini with an intensive open-air feeling. The Convertible is now, for the first time, fitted with a fully automatic, electrically powered and quiet soft top operation system as well as fully integrated rollover protection.
The latest edition of the open-top is the outcome of progressive evolution and reflects a distinct character, with traditional design elements such as the circular headlamps with chrome rings and the hexagonal radiator grille.
The exterior dimensions have increased slightly in all directions. The new dimensions preserved the models typical proportions while ensuring that the interior benefits from the larger exterior silhouette.
The luggage compartment is also significantly larger than before and stowage of larger items is facilitated by the Easy Load function and also a wide through loading facility.
After opening, the soft top is folded compactly behind the rear seats, this produces the classic convertible effect of an elegantly elongated silhouette.
Sitting inside the car, open-air pleasure is ensured by the upright windscreen and the elongated shoulder line. The interior is adorned with high end finishes while space and comfort has been significantly increased.
Like the Clubman, the Convertible is also available with two engine derivatives. The latest generation engines with TwinPower Turbo technology ensure increased driving fun and efficiency.
The 1,5 litre three-cylinder petrol engine produces 100 kW an 220Nm allowing it to reach 100 km/h in 8,8 seconds and tops out at 208 km/h. Equipped with this engine the Mini will use around 5,0 l/ 100km
The 2,0 litre, four-cylinder unit boasts 141 kW and 280Nm which is briefly increased to 300Nm by means of the overboost function. This allows acceleration to 100km/h in 7,2 seconds on its way to 230km/h while using around 6,0 l/100km.
All model variants are fitted as standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. A gear sensor enables active engine speed adaptation for especially sporty shifting when accelerating and increased comfort when shifting down.
The new version of the 6-speed Steptronic transmission is more efficient, comfortable and athletic than before. A new Steptronic sport transmission is available in the Cooper S Convertible and offers very short shift times, can be operated using shift paddles and features a launch control function for traction-optimised acceleration from standing.
Mini driving modes enable individual vehicle set-up by means of a rotary switch at the base of the gear or selective lever.
In addition to the ABS, EBD Cornering Brake Control and the brake assistant, DSC also includes a drive-off assistant, a brake dry function, Fading Brake support and DTC mode.
Innovative driver assistance systems include Park Distance Control with sensors at the rear as standard fitment, while the range of options includes a Head-Up display, the Driving Assistant system including camera-based active cruise control, collision and pedestrian warning, high beam assist, road sign detection, Parking assistant and rear view camera.
The Mini connected in-car infotainment program is more varied than ever. The Mini Connected XL Journey Mate provides an innovative form of travel planning and support. Other functions from the areas of infotainment and social media can be integrated in the car via smartphone apps and then used intuitively, conveniently and safely with the Mini operating system.
The agile and secure driving properties of the new Mini convertible have been bolstered by its torsionally stiff yet weight-optimised body structure even though the convertible is fitted with torsion struts in the front and rear area of the underbody, selective optimisation in the side sills and a stiffening plate under the engine.
For the first time, the rollover protection system is integrated completely invisibly. As soon as the safety electronics detect the risk of a rollover, the two rollover protection bars made of high-strength aluminium retract within 150 milliseconds by means of a pyrotechnical trigger function, combining with the convertible specific reinforced windscreen frame to form a stable survival space for vehicle occupants.
Naturally there are front airbags as well as side head-thorax airbags integrated in the backrests.
It is great to see that Mini have abandoned, some of the silly niche products and have focused their attention on ensuring that their core models remain fresh and up to date with technology, as is expected by the trendy customers who are attracted to this brand.