by Lem Bingley
The Geneva Motor Show starts early in March and among the many debuts will be this Mini Clubman Concept, providing a very close preview of the upcoming production model.
Unlike today’s Clubman, which grew so modestly out from the standard Mini hatch that there was room for only half an extra door, the new Clubman has been conceived as a proper five-seater with full-size doors for the back benchers. It’s not a hatchback, however, as the rear end continues to offer a pair of side-hinged barn doors, technically adding up to a six-door car.
The concept is also a lot bigger than the outgoing Clubman in every direction – almost a foot longer, a handspan wider and a shade taller too if it matches the new Mini hatch. Perhaps we will also see a new and more commodious Clubvan commercial derivative.
The front end of the Clubman Concept closely follows the look of the new Mini hatch, with its ringed lamps and puckered hexagon grille. The side scoops are new, however, trailing away from the front wheelarch, and the fusion of side indicator and door mirror mounting is also a novel and neater treatment than the arrangement seen on the hatch. Both quirks may well be show-car trimmings, of course, destined to disappear before the new Clubman reaches our roads.
Oddly for a concept, there are also rigid frames around the glass in the doors – another indication of how close the show car is to the production model. The smaller Mini hatch continues to offer frameless coupé-style glass.
A pair of big, horizontal lamps at the back seem to be mounted in the doors, unlike the current car’s lights that shine through cut-outs. The roadgoing Clubman will need secondary lamps, mounted in the bumper, to comply with lighting regulations, given that the car can be driven with the doors ajar.
Photos seem to rob the car of some of its shape. It can look bread-van boring from some angles – as if the three-door car has simply been stretched by a couple of feet. But the overhead view reveals that there’s a Coke-bottle curve about its hips that hopefully will lend the new Clubman some character when seen in the metal.
Inside, there’s a fanciful show-car interior with a red-white-and-blue theme, the latest cloddish attempt at Britishness from Mini’s German master, BMW. However, given that the company’s head of design is Dutch and the photos of the car seem to be referencing Belgian painter René Magritte, perhaps the brand’s fondness for the Union Jack is at last on the wane. A more forward-looking Mini would be a good thing. It might have better ergonomics, for starters.
Next Mini Clubman: more room, more doors
26 February 2014
by Lem Bingley
Read more about: Mini