The Gentleman Is Back
Motor|August 2017

MINI Club Cooper

Ashraaq Wahab

Fond memories may be invoked by many on hearing the Clubman name. The first Clubman was born out of the 1969 restyle of the original Mini by Roy Haynes, and resulted in the squarer front. The Clubman was intended as the replacement for the plush Riley and Wolseley variants. It is at the same time that the 1275GT was introduced as well alongside the Clubman although the difference between the two is clear side-by-side. The Clubman featured a more elongated nose and better crash safety as a result. In the Estate Wagon variant of the clubman, as in the standard Mini Estate, the rear had the famous "Barn Doors". Clubmans were quite popular in Sri Lanka. My mother's family had one as well (although it changed hands just prior to my birth!). Looking at the Mighty Mini Club's recent Festival of Minis' event, many classic Clubmans still survive and are being driven on a daily basis!

Under BMW's stewardship of the Mini brand, the Clubman made a re-appearance in 2007. It was identical to the 3 door estate right up to the B-pillar, from which a 240mm increase in length and the Barn Doors marked the difference. It also featured the "Clubdoor" - a small door behind the main front door and situated on the right hand side of the car regardless of market. This made entry and exit particularly interesting in right-hand-drive markets, where this door is on the road side of the car. A Clubman "Bond Street" special edition was also created in 2013, and this model bowed out in 2014, to be replaced shortly by the second generation F54, what we are looking at here. First introduced in 2015, it is the longest Mini at 426cm, even longer than the Countryman. It also is the first to feature Mini’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system which uses an electrohydraulic system to power the rear wheels on demand. The Clubman comes in Cooper spec (1.5L) and Cooper S spec (2.0L). Our test car is a Cooper spec model.

Exterior

A common complaint I hear is that “the new crop of Minis look too large to be called Mini”, and the Clubman has been on the receiving end of this as well. However, the hard truth is, no manufacturer can make cars in sizes anywhere close to that of the original Mini without flouting the myriad of rules, regulations and crash compliance legislation that was non-existent in 1959. That is the main reason cars have become larger, to keep the soft, squishy humans within in as alive a condition as possible if and when a crash occurs.

Lecture over. Let’s look at the Clubman. Front face-on, it’s Mini all the way. Move to the side, though and the longer length becomes apparent. Side-on it has a long silhouette which, coupled with the high beltline and thinner glasshouse makes for a lower-slung look than the Countryman. The “Club Door” is gone and it is now a proper four-door. Move to the rear and you can see the lights have been rotated 90 degrees and placed on the “Barn Doors”, looking like a pair of cat’s eyes when lit, the red parking/brake lights circling the orange turn indicator which looks like the iris. Look closely and you can see the Mini emblem inside too! Look at those headlamps! Don’t they look like eyes too?

The Clubman is available in many solid colours including plain ol’ black and white (although I cannot fathom why anyone would have a Mini in those) plus metallic colours that include British Racing Green, and as our test car wears a solid shade known as Volcanic Orange. The wheels are 18” Star Spoke design in black, and the roof typically can be chosen in a contrasting colour, like the black of our test car. You have a range of wheel designs in 17” and 18” to choose from, as well as a myriad of roof graphics, stars, stripes and whatever grabs your fancy. Choose wisely.

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