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Future models - Mini - Clubman

Mini Clubman to take on A-Class, A3

Tops down: The F56 Mini Hatch Cabriolet will replace the ageing R56 version (left) that is still on sale in Australia.

Clubman has 'huge potential' in busy premium hatch segment says Mini Australia boss


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16 Jul 2015

MINI is gearing up to enter the premium small hatch segment with the arrival of the reborn Clubman in Mini garages later this year, representing the midway-point of a sustained new-model roll-out for the BMW-owned brand.

The Clubman will be pitched as a mainstream offering this time around, after the previous-generation version with its quirky two-plus-one door layout was little more than a niche offering, achieving low sales volumes globally and in Australia.

It will be built using parent company BMW Group's UKL2 platform, which is a stretched version of the UKL architecture that frames the current Mini Hatch, and will offer four traditional doors for entry, while maintaining the unique barn doors at the rear.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Mini Hatch John Cooper Works media launch in Victoria this week, Mini Australia national manager Kai Bruesewitz said the new-gen Clubman could be more than a niche offering this time around.

“The car is growing, it's more practical,” he said. “We also think we will have a good value proposition.” The Clubman will play in the hotly contested over $40,000 premium small-car segment in Australia which is currently led by Audi's impressive and extensive A3 range, with the Mercedes-Benz A- and B-Class following, and the Group's own BMW 1 Series also a volume player.

When asked whether buyers will take the Clubman seriously in its second modern-day iteration against the aforementioned competitors, Mr Bruesewitz flipped the question and highlighted its differences.

“Let's put it the other way around. It gives us huge potential to basically fish in the premium-hatch segment with the models you've just listed. And that’ s why we are very much looking forward to the Clubman because that is another offering that can attract people from other brands to the Mini brand.” The Clubman line-up will be available with a base Cooper, spritzy Cooper S and frugal Cooper D, but there is no word yet on a hot John Cooper Works version.

Another JCW variant still not confirmed is the 5-door that is tipped to gain a performance-honed version at some point next year.

While Mr Bruesewitz was receptive to the idea of a 5-door JCW, he did not confirm the existence of such a model in the Mini world.

“Yes, it probably would give us some volume, but it's not on the radar at the moment. I don’t have any confirmation about that at the moment.” One model that is definitely on the radar is the F56 Cabriolet that will replace the R56 version that is still on sale in Australia. The new drop-top is expected Down Under next year. The old version is still on sale in Australia, and is offered alongside the new-gen Hatch.

Despite rumours of its demise, Mini is still producing the polarising Countryman-based Paceman crossover/coupe through Magna Steyr in Austria.

It was rumoured to be killed off earlier this year when Mini announced it had officially ended production of the Coupe and Roadster twins, but the three-door Paceman will live on, for now.

Just 10 Pacemans have found homes in Australia this year, while 285 examples of its more practical Countryman sibling have been sold in the first six months of 2015.

Mr Bruesewitz acknowledged that the Paceman does not attract big numbers, he said it was still available to order, should a customer want one.

“Ten is better than zero,” he said. “Of course if a customer comes and wants a Paceman we are trying to fulfil that.”

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