Going Clubbing with MINI
The new stretched Clubman gives MINI’s city chic new allure–and serious size where it needed it.
Some club doors grant access to hot and seamy nightlife–yes, we did see you there last weekend and no, you probably shouldn’t put that one in your “fives.”
MINI’s “Clubdoor” does something a lot more practical. It changes the teensy Cooper S hatchback into the new 2008 Cooper S Clubman–a longer, roomier MINI with a rear-hinged panel on its right side. And in the process, it makes getting in and out of the darling little three-door much less of a chore.
Is it way more practical? Um, not so much. But as we sped around fabulous Madrid, looking to break the language barrier in new and creative ways, we realized that stretching the MINI had made it easier to live with, but hadn’t done anything to dent its reputation as a sexy little beast.
MINI doesn’t leave any of the basic goodness of its original Cooper behind as it stretches and snips it into the Clubman. There’s still the sweet-revving 1.6-liter four-cylinder, all 120 horsepower puttering along and turning in great fuel economy through either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. This year a turbocharged four spits out 175 horsepower through either gearbox, good enough to send the Clubman to 60 mph in about 7.6 seconds.
It’s lost none of its nimbleness, either. The Clubman with the turbo engine is deceptively powerful, and while the turbo power will force you to keep both hands on the wheel, this new MINI is Travolta-deft as it dances from corner to corner (Perfect Travolta, not Hairspray.)
That Clubdoor on the right side can be opened after the front-hinged passenger door; it swings out to expose a lot more legroom that the stock MINI hatch thanks to a full 9.5 extra inches of wheelbase. But it’s not the only clever idea in the Clubman — the rear end trades its hatch for a pair of double doors that make its cargo area easy to fill up with Spanish leather, silver, and the occasional Spaniard.
We’ve always loved the MINI for its plastic-fantastic cockpit, which does some of the best imitations of chrome we’ve seen. There’s plenty to keep you safe inside too, with six airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes.
It’s bigger but it still drives “small.” And that’s probably the most charming MINI feature of all. We may want everything a little larger, but nobody likes a braggart.
MINI is a gay-friendly company.
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