More Bulk Coming to Mini Clubman?
Mini’s Clubman, a vehicle the B&B won’t stop talking about, could undergo significant changes for its next iteration — not just in terms of style, but perhaps in terms of size. If word out of Britain is anything to go on, the Clubman wagon could morph into something larger and more palatable to American audiences.
It could become a crossover.
If you were under the impression that it already is, you’re thinking of the Countryman, not the Clubman. Don’t be ashamed — Mini is hardly a hot topic in most automotive (or non-automotive) circles. The tepidly-ranged Cooper SE electric vehicle detailed last week likely isn’t going to change that situation, either.
While the largest (and longest) member of the Mini passenger car lineup grew for the current generation, it still possesses too much car DNA to raise many eyebrows in America. The Countryman remains Mini’s best-seller on this side of the pond.
According to Autocar, Mini design boss Oliver Heilmer has hinted at a strategic repositioning for the barn-doored Clubman. Both Clubman and Countryman fall uncomfortably close to each other in regard to dimension and price; clearly, some space is needed between the two, and Heilmer suggested that a switch to a crossover format could be in the cards.
However, that would still leave the two stepping all over each other’s toes. While Heilmer didn’t elaborate on the Clubman’s future, it would make sense for one of the two vehicles to grow significantly in size, with the other keeping its compact proportions. It would make sense for the Countryman, which was always a crossover, to be the big sibling.
Again, there’s no confirmation of this being Mini’s etched-in-stone plan.
In the U.S., sales of the BMW-owned Mini brand are down more than 17 percent through the end of November. Sales of all models are down on a year-to-date basis, even the Countryman (which is down 19 percent). The most stable vehicle in the lineup is the four-door Cooper hatch, which only saw volume shrink 6 percent in 2019.
The Clubman, which sells in smaller numbers than anything but the Cooper convertible, is down 21 percent through November.
[Images: BMW Group]
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Yes, Clubman will survive while TourX goes to the land of the Wildcat, Riveria, Centurian, LeSabre, Electra 225, Skylark, Century, Regal, Skyhawk, and Sommerset. If there's a personal luxury heaven, well you know they've got a hell of a band, band, band!
If they're going to make a bigger Clubman, and Mini's brand is retro, then they should bring back the style of small 1960s British vans: tidy dimensions, tall roof, rounded styling, snub nose, outward-opening rear doors. Make mine electric. And make it available in both panel and passenger versions. Then they've got an adorable competitor for the Kia Soul EV for civvies, and an eye-catching replacement for a worn-out first-gen Ford Transit Connect for a florist or dry cleaner. Sign me up.