With winter finally bringing on its worst in many parts of the country, Mini’s latest product announcement probably couldn’t be better timed. The British automaker is set to offer its ALL4 all-wheel-drive system on the Clubman model for the first time.
The longest model in the Mini line-up, the Clubman was completely redesigned this year – and, like the rest of the marque’s models, it’s a bit larger and more lavishly equipped. The availability of all-wheel-drive should expand its appeal to buyers in snowier climes.
The all-wheel-drive system will be offered as an option on all trim levels of the new Mini Clubman, starting with the base Cooper at $25,900. The Mini Cooper S Clubman ALL4 will carry a sticker of $29,450.
Mini has been growing a little less, well, mini with its latest product iterations. Starting with the new Hardtop, its products have grown a bit longer and wider, as if put on a copier set to 110%. The 2016 Clubman is now 10.9 inches longer than the Hardtop and 2.9 inches wider, and ir offers enough space for five adults without having those in the rear seat contort into awkward shapes.
The one immediately notable difference comes in the back where the hatch is now a two-door arrangement, each portal swinging outward. Borrowing a page from Ford and several other makers, a motorist with arms full of packages will be able to open the doors simply by waggling a foot under the back bumper.
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Initially, there will be two powertrain options: a BMW-derived 1.5-liter 3-cylinder package making 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The sportier option will be the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four making 189 hp and 207 lb-ft. Both will be offered with either a 6-speed manual or a new 8-speed Steptronic automatic.
And now, Mini will add ALL4 for the first time to the Clubman. The system maintains the standard Clubman’s front-wheel-drive bias. All torque is delivered to the nose of the car until sensors begin to detect wheel spin. When that happens, it sends just enough power to the rear axle through what Mini has dubbed a “hang-on clutch.”
While the ALL4 system will clearly have appeal in the Snowbelt, it could find fanciers in warmer climes, as well, considering the system will allow a driver to launch the Clubman S with the 2.0-liter engine and 8-speed automatic from 0 to 60 in just 6.6 seconds. That’s three-tenths faster than the front-drive Mini Clubman Cooper S.
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Along with the rest of Clubman line, ALL4 models will now offer optional LED headlamps and foglamps, as well as adaptive lighting.
And lifting a page, this time from BMW, the Clubman will improve its aerodynamics with new Air Curtains and Air Breathers, among other things reducing turbulence around the front wheels.
As big as it is, the 2016 Mini Clubman is still relatively small for a 5-seater, so despite some surprise and grumbling, the British maker is hoping its loyal fans will ultimately fall back in love.
There are other reasons for loyalists to stay in line. The new Clubman gets the same basic interior redesign as the latest-generation Cooper hatchback. Again, though some initially griped, the redesign resolved some of the more nagging problems with Mini models, such as the speedometer that was positioned in the center of the instrument panel, rather than behind the steering wheel.
The new layout offers up two digital displays, one measuring 6.5 inches, the other 8.8, definitely not Mini these. Of course, there remain the classic Mini toggle switches and Start button to play with.
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Mini has made a success – a profitable one, at that, of offering countless ways to customize the exterior of its vehicles. It now promises to expand its range of interior trim features to “near bespoke levels of customization.”
Mini claims it put a heavy emphasis on enhancing the new Clubman’s steering and handling. Considering its products already have a reputation for go-kart-like manners, the addition of ALL4 could enhance Clubman’s appeal even further.