IS this Australia’s coolest wagon? The Mini Clubman is certainly right up there, with its wide, squat bread-van silhouette… and doors where no doors have quite been before!
For 2020, the German-owned British brand is readying the F54 LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) – a peculiarly BMW anacronym for facelift. So, it’s an improved version of the world’s only six-door, five-seater, four or three-cylinder turbo tearaway available in two main flavours, only with a makeover. Look for it from October.
To be honest, as far as updates go, this one isn’t massive, with subtle alterations to the nose limited to a redesigned hexagonal grille that’s wider than before, revised circular headlights featuring a bigger reflector and a black shield on standard variants, or newly styled LED modules on higher-spec cars.
More money can now also buy adaptive LED headlights with Audi-style Matrix functionality, bringing a broader and more effective spread of light, as well as an auto-dipping facility as to not dazzle oncoming traffic. Yep, the 2020 Clubman’s visual character is literally in the eyes.
BMW is keen to remind people that the Clubman has a proud British heritage, so now buyers can option up LED tail-lights boasting the controversial Union Jack tail-light design – as seen on the recently revised Mini hatch. What original Mini creator Alec Issigonis would make of such matters were he still be alive today would be anybody’s guess.
At least the Germans are staying true to the series heritage with new vibrant colours that could have been snatched from a 1960s brochure, judging by their names – Indian Summer Red, British Racing Green and Enigmatic Black metallic. Keeping the retro theme simmering, the roof and mirror caps can be contrasted in black, white or silver. The Cooper S is even available with piano black highlights on the headlight surrounds, rear lights and grille.
If all that’s not enough, all alloy wheels (ranging from 16 to 19 inches in diameter) have been overhauled, while a fresh option that ushers in 10mm-lowered sports suspension is just the thing for that slammed-wagon look the Clubman does so well.
BMW also took the opportunity to update the stretched Mini’s multimedia system, led by a 4G-compatible sim card that brings the Mini in line with other models using BMW’s Connected services system. Real-time traffic information and a ‘concierge’ facility are the main benefits.
If you were hoping for some extra performance for the 2020 Clubman, then prepared to be disappointed, because the powertrains slated for Australia remain unchanged. This means the base Cooper continues with BMW’s punchy 100kW/220Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo, while the Cooper S retains its muscular 141kW/280Nm 2.0-litre four-pot turbo. Key things to remember is that the latter currently sprints to 100km/h from standstill in 7.2 seconds, which is 1.9s quicker than the former, as well as 23km/h faster, at 228km/h all-up.
As before, the 1.5L drives the front wheels only via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the 2.0L brings an eight-speed torque-converter auto.
Next year, the Clubman LCI is expected to score a John Cooper Works ALL4 version, just like today’s outgoing version that employs an upgraded iteration of the Cooper S’ 2.0-litre turbo to deliver a rousing 170kW of power and 350Nm of torque. It’s all-wheel drive, too, to help quell front-wheel spin and traction loss.
To recap, the Clubman actually sits on the same UKL transverse front-drive architecture as the BMW X1, X2 and 2 Series Active Tourer, meaning it is 100mm longer than the Hatch, making it the biggest Mini ever (unless you count the Countryman SUV). As before, the 2020 version continues with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear suspension arrangement.
But it’s all about the unique, kooky six-door wagon bodystyle – with its pair of ‘barn’ split doors at the back – that sets the Clubman apart. And makes this the coolest Mini by far in many fans’ eyes.