2016 Mini Clubman: Inside and Out

16Mini_Clubman_Event_AC_02.jpg 2016 Mini Clubman; | photo by Angela Conners

Size doesn’t always matter, but where the redesign of the compact Clubman for the 2016 model year is concerned, the expansion of this Mini is major.

Related: 2016 Mini Clubman First Look

We got up close with the 2016 Clubman in its track-themed Cooper S incarnation recently when Mini made a stop in Chicago on a five-city tour. For anyone who doubted that the Clubman’s size increase could actually make it a reasonable option for more than two people in the car, rest assured — and comfortably — it is.

16Mini_Clubman_Event_AC_12.jpg 2016 Mini Clubman; | photo by Angela Conners

After all, BMW’s minicar brand added more than a foot to the Clubman’s profile in addition to nearly 5 inches to its width and more than a half-inch to its height. That’s in addition to almost doubling its cargo space with the rear seats up to about 18 cubic feet, and increasing it to 47.9 cubic feet with the seats folded.

With the driver’s seat adjusted to accommodate a 6-foot-1-inch driver, someone of equal height sitting in the backseat will find his or her knees just barely kissing the seatback pocket. And thanks to that extra width, passengers can rub elbows in the backseat without their elbows actually rubbing. That comes with the caveat, however, that this carful of 6-footers doesn’t intend to pick up another friend to fill the Clubman’s new fifth seat; we didn’t have a chance to perform a hip-to-hip-to-hip test, but we’re not optimistic. Better to keep it a foursome and let the backseat occupants pull down that stowable center armrest with dual pop-out cupholders.

16Mini_Clubman_Event_AC_24.jpg 2016 Mini Clubman; | photo by Angela Conners

The Clubman’s interior isn’t just roomier, but loungier. The dark blues, grays and blacks of the quilted leather upholstery over the comfortable, contoured seats and ambient lighting peppered throughout emit the ambiance of a dimly lit cocktail lounge. Mini’s craftsmanship theme for the new Clubman comes through in these meticulous details, which also include metal dash trim, an LED-accent ring around the multimedia screen and controls, a plaid-lined glove compartment and Mini-logo puddle lights projected onto the ground next to the car.

16Mini_Clubman_Event_AC_20.jpg 2016 Mini Clubman; | photo by Angela Conners

The exterior also gets some major updates. The Clubman’s new hexagonal grille is adorned with a chain-link pattern in place of the previous metal slats. That plus the addition of face-defining air intakes and elegantly subtle character lines combine with Mini’s signature pie-eyed headlights to create the countenance of a catfish without whiskers. That’s in addition to muscular shoulders and a sloping roofline, from the dual sunroof back to the unique barn-door-style rear hatch, which springs open with a light squeeze of the handle (we didn’t get to test its new automatic opening with kick-motion capability). Oh, and let’s not forget that the new Clubman doubles the number of doors to four and kills off that tiny rear-hinged door on the outgoing model’s passenger side.

16Mini_Clubman_Event_AC_05.jpg 2016 Mini Clubman; | photo by Angela Conners

Along with two newly available colors — Melting Silver and Pure Burgundy with the choice of a black, white or body-colored roof — the Clubman lays claim to a number of Mini “firsts”: first Mini with power seats, which recline, move fore and aft, and include lumbar and a memory function; first Mini with rear climate control, which comes standard; first Mini with “big American” cupholders; and the first Mini with an electric parking brake.

The new Clubman will start at $24,950, with a destination fee, when it reaches showrooms early next year. That’s about $2,700 more than the previous version, but assuming buyers equate bigger with better, they’ll get maximum Mini for their money.

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