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Mini Clubman Concept bows at Geneva
<p><strong>Mini Clubman Concept bows at Geneva.</strong></p>

Mini Clubman Concept Takes Brand’s Design in New Direction

Classic Mini styling elements are less aggressively played up in the concept&rsquo;s design, as the automaker says it wants to emphasize sophistication and charisma.

BMW’s Mini brand will introduce at the Geneva auto show next week the Mini Clubman Concept, which the automaker calls “a new brand philosophy for a higher class of automobile.”

The concept bowing March 4 arrives as Mini begins turning over its model lineup, beginning with the third generation of its volume Hardtop model arriving at dealers this spring and underpinned by an all-new front-wheel-drive architecture for BMW Group.

Mini sales overall remain resilient in the U.S., the brand’s No.1 market. Sales last year grew 0.6% to 66,502 units from 66,123 in like-2012, according to WardsAuto data. Deliveries of the Clubman, which ranks as the No.3 seller among Mini derivatives behind the Hardtop and Countryman, fell 10.6% to 5,155 units from 5,769 last year.

The Clubman Concept measures 10 ins. (260 mm) longer and 7 ins. (170 mm) wider than the current production model, but also gains a pair of rear doors in place of the existing passenger-side pocket door. The concept retains the Clubman’s trademark “Split Barn Door boot.”

“The Mini Clubman Concept shows how the Mini Clubman could be taken a step further (with) more interior space, a greater sense of high-end quality and yet still clever, bold and distinctive,” Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, says in a statement ahead of the unveiling.

Key elements of the concept include recognizable Mini design cues such as a hexagonal grille, trademark side scuttles housing the marker lamp, a black band framing the lower edge of the car, short overhangs and elliptical front and rear lamps.

But those classic elements are less aggressively played up in the concept’s design, as the automaker says it wants to emphasize sophistication and charisma. A warm Berry Red paint highlights its surfaces and shapes, the automaker says, and the Clubman Concept’s colder Blade metallic gray roof serves as a contract. It is shorn with 19-in. wheels, big for the typical Mini with a multi-spoke design using both black chrome and chrome.

The split rear doors grow more elaborate with the concept and the rear lamps swing to a horizontal, rather than vertical, orientation. It adds a sensor under the bumper to open the doors automatically if you do not have a free hand.

Interior roominess increases and familiar, colorful Mini dash, door and console inserts recall the exterior, while unusual nubuck, patent and soft nappa leathers are used on the seats, shift knob, steering wheel, instrument panel and other touch points.

The center console display, typically home to the oversized Mini speedometer, is reconfigurable to the preferred content or driving situation. In the latest production model of the Hardtop, the speedometer has been relocated for the first time to the driver’s instrument panel.

The Clubman Concept offers no future powertrain ideas, although the Hardtop uses a pair of new BMW engines – a 1.5L 3-cyl. making 134 hp and a 2.0L 4-cyl. boasting 189 hp, along with a new 6-speed manual transmission  – so those powertrains would be expected as Mini continues to roll out redesigns for each of its variants.

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TAGS: Vehicles
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