Mini: MINI Cooper Clubman 2008 Review

Mini Clubman Cooper fq 2

The new MINI Cooper Clubman sits outside the Car and SUV offices proudly showing off a stylized two-tone rump with double cargo doors. It’s a very different rear end to the regular MINI. In fact there hasn’t been a rear end since Jennifer Lopez’ that has caused so much talk around this office. However unlike J-Lo’s universally praised study in design excellence, opinion is still divided about the MINI Clubman’s bum.

I believe that you either get the ‘booty’ concept or you don’t. Personally when I first saw photos of the Clubman, I wasn’t taken with the styling, but seeing one in the flesh has made me reconsider to the point that now I think it looks alright. I can imagine the hotter Cooper S Clubman with a loud exhaust and big wheels making speedy deliveries through tight city streets. Awesome.

The interior is a strong point for all MINIs and this one is a nice place to be with a quality feel that seems to pervade all BMW stuff. The leather seats look sporty and are comfortable while the adjustable steering wheel provides a sporty, low driving position. Even the backseat is ok for 180cm+ people, which is partly why BMW decided to stretch this MINI.

The collection of circles that make up the interior is very cool while the ‘mood lighting’ control is interesting as you can change the colour of the lights on the interior door handles and next to the rear view mirror. The interior door handles hinge to the side and you have to pull them backward which is a bit awkward.

‘Funky’ is the adjective used by most who saw the Clubman, though some who saw the ‘Incredibly Mini’ tag on the number plate suggested a less flattering adjective to follow ‘Incredibly’.

We tried the cooking model Cooper Clubman with an 88kw engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

The engine while feeling a bit lethargic, sounded rorty and really liked to rev and of course we let it. The engine note even sounds a little similar to the original Mini, with a hint of Ford Escort BDA rally car thrown in.

MINI quotes figures of 5.3 and 9.4 l/100km for highway and city driving respectively for the auto though we couldn’t verify this as there’s no trip computer.

The handling hasn’t been affected by the increased length in the Clubman (24cm) and it is still as chuck-able and secure as a regular MINI. It craves curves and rewards the driver with sublime composure on all but the most rutted roads where mid-corner bumps can produce a hint of understeer. The darty front end does give the feel of a big go-kart and grip through 205/45/17 tyres is impressive. Brakes are very good and pull the Clubman up well. Just make sure any loads are secure!

The Clubman definitely still has that sporting MINI DNA and is an absolute hoot to drive on twisty roads. It would be great to try the faster Cooper S Clubman with a manual gearbox.

Less inspiring is the 6-speed automatic transmission which around town with the auto in ‘Drive’ likes to go directly to 6th gear. This combined with the lack of fireworks under the bonnet means it needs to be revved to keep up with traffic. If you flick the gear level to the left to activate ‘sports mode’ things get much better. Paddles behind the steering wheel make for much more effective and satisfying progress although how they work can be a little confusing at first in that left and right do the same thing. Thumb the top of the paddle forward to change down, and pull back to go up. Once you get used to this, though, it is very easy to use — more intuitive in fact than having one paddle for up and one for down – and although the changes aren’t Ferrari-fast they do the job.

The MINI Clubman is different to the regular MINI as it is heavier and a little longer to add backseat space. The ‘Clubman door’ is an interesting concept that, like the Mazda RX-8, swings out after the front door is opened to help rear seat passengers enter and the driver to stash gear in the back. Why it is only on the drivers side I’m not sure, as I wouldn’t use it to let passengers out the drivers side for safety reasons. It seems that it would be better to have the door on both sides.

The double doors at the back are the main feature of the Clubman and are the main criticism of those concerned with the Clubman’s aesthetics. As a functional idea they are good but the space in the boot is ‘handy’ rather than huge. The doors also limit rearward visibility but this is something that you get used to.

It is a great handling car, fantastic fun to drive, easy to park and has a funky interior.
So it all boils down to whether the look of the Clubman appeals to you or not. Like I said at the beginning, you either get the ‘booty’ concept or you don’t.

Price: From $40,900

What we like

  • Rorty engine
  • Great handling
  • Quality interior
  • Sporty driving position

What we don’t like

  • Mood lighting was distracting
  • Standard automatic mode
  • Long list of options can make it expensive
  • Love it/hate it styling

MINI Cooper Clubman

From: Manual $40,900

Automatic $43,900

Specifications

Type (cylinders / valves) In line / 4

Effective Displacement (cm3) 1598

Power output kW (hp) 88 (120) at (rpm) 6000

Max. torque (Nm) @ rpm 160 / 4250

C02 emission -EU (auto) 163 (143)

Exhaust emissions classification (auto) EU4

Performance

Drag coefficient (Cd) 0,34

0-100 km/ h (sec), (auto) (9,8)10,9

Maximum speed in km/h, (auto) 201(195)

Fuel consumption

EU, in town Litres/100km  (Auto) 8,1(9,4)

EU, out of town Litres/100km (Auto) 4,8 (5,3)

Fuel consumption / Range (ltr /100km / km) 6,8 / 590

Technology & Information

3-way catalytic convertor fully controlled, heated lambda sensors

Cornering Brake Control

Power steering, electronic speed related

Manual 6-speed transmission

Dimensions – MINI in Millimetres

Length (mm) 3937

Width (mm) 1683

Height (mm) 1426

Luggage capacities (m3) 0,260 – 0,930 0

Fuel capacity (litres) 40

Safety & Vehicle Protection Features

Electronic vehicle immobilization (EWS IV)

3rd Headrest in rear

Runflat indicator with passive monitoring of all 4 wheels with status indicator light

Crash sensor, to activate hazard warning lights and interior lighting and to unlock doors

Follow me home function

Airbags for driver and front passenger, 6 airbags as standard; 2 front, 2 side and 2 curtain airbags

Electronic Braking Force Distribution control

Pyrotechnic belt buckle tensioners, for automatic belts front

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)

Sports suspension settings

Emergency spare wheel (3 1/2J x 15 tyres (deletion of MINI Mobility system)

Alarm system; for monitoring doors, engine-compartment lid and tailgate, including interior- movement sensor, tilt sensor and siren with emergency power supply

Warning triangle with first-aid kit

Park distance control rear (PDC)

Fog lights integrated into the front bumper

Front passenger airbag deactivation

MINI tlc ( 5 Year / 80,000 kilometre Scheduled Servicing)

Words Ben Dillon, photographs Darren Cottingham

News: Jaguar X-Type diesel coming to New Zealand

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Jaguar’s entry level model gets a fresh new look for 2008, along with a host of new features inside and outside the vehicle. With significant revisions including nearly 500 new components, the new generation X-Type retains all the original car’s strengths, and adds some new ones of its own for $64,990.

A torquey diesel engine mated to a six speed automatic transmission is the highlight of the revised Jaguar X-Type range.

“The X-Type 2.2D provides Kiwis with an alternative prestige car with all the benefits of the latest diesel technology,” said Wallis Dumper, the Managing Director of Motorcorp Distributors, the New Zealand distributor for Jaguar.

“It’s a great alternative to a Japanese or Australian executive car,” said Mr Dumper. “And it offers tremendous value for money at thousands less than the cheapest equivalent diesel engined German luxury car.”

For the first time in New Zealand, the new X-Type offers diesel economy and power – pairing a 2.2 litre diesel with a six-speed automatic, and the one-touch control of Jaguar Sequential Shift – broadening the new model’s appeal to buyers. The new X-Type automatic diesel combines high levels of refinement with optimised performance and economy, and even greater luxury.

With 366 Nm of torque, the X-Type diesel has more pulling power than any other model in the X-Type range. And with it coming as low as 1800 rpm, the torque is available for every day driving situations.

The 2.2 litre diesel is paired with a new six-speed automatic gearbox, which has the added attraction of ‘one-touch control’ Jaguar Sequential Shift, for manual gear changes.

The six gear ratios are chosen to deliver refined cruising while maintaining sporty performance – the balance that Jaguar research shows an X-Type owner wants. The diesel automatic can achieve maximum torque in all six gears, utilising optimum gear change points to ensure best use of the available torque. In the new X-Type, the 2.2D automatic can accelerate to 100kph in 9.9 seconds, and has a maximum speed of 208km/h, a combined economy of 6.9 itres/100km (41 mpg), and a CO2 rating of 184g/km with the aid of a particulate filter.

The low revs torque flattens hills on the open road and provides instantaneous throttle response for safe over taking manoeuvres.

The standard sports suspension anchors the X-Type to the road while still providing the fluid ride that all Jaguars are known for. And the variable ratio power steering provides good feedback at all road speeds.

The new X-Type also introduces significantly upgraded electronic features, from improved Bluetooth® connectivity to ‘Generation 5′ parking aids, uses new technology that allows the sensors to be smaller, neater and body coloured.

The new X-Type announces its arrival with a fresh new look that reflects Jaguar’s new design language. The frontal styling introduces a new ’3D’ bright mesh grille, with a bold frame and body coloured outer surround that echoes the design themes of both the XJ and XF. And the new X-TYPE is proud of its Jaguar identity, with a new Jaguar ‘growler’ emblem prominently mounted within the mesh grille.

In profile, new sill shapes connect the re-styled front and rear bumpers and visually lower the new X-Type’s centre of gravity, giving it a more purposeful, sporting stance. There is a subtle body-coloured rear boot-lid spoiler.

The new door mirrors offer maximum functionality, including power fold back. They also include integrated side repeaters – again, a feature common to the new XJ and XF. The new X-Type introduces a new 18 inch five-spoke alloy wheel the Abaco – while the exterior colour palette is available in the new Ultimate Black, along with Liquid Silver, Shadow Grey and Indigo Blue.

There are front fog lights, automatic headlights and rain sensing windscreen wipers.

A sporty interior trim includes soft grain leather, usually reserved for the Jaguar hero models such as the XJR and XF SV8, with twin-needle diamond stitching for the centre cushions, in Warm Charcoal leather with Stone stitching. The seats have ten-way adjustment with driver’s seat memory function, and the luxurious diamond-stitching pattern repeated in the matched door trims.

The instrument cluster has a sportier look – similar to that of the new XF – with new silver metallic overlays, new pointer hubs and new bezel shapes, plus a combination of green dial illumination and white pointer illumination, just as in the XK.

Standard features include traction control with dynamic stability control; anti lock braking with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist. There are six airbags, pre-tensioners for all seat belts, remote two stage central locking, an intrusion and perimeter alarm and engine immobiliser.

Cruise control, a trip computer, automatic air conditioning, a split folding rear seat to extend the boot’s luggage capacity is also standard equipment.
With the diesel option the X-Type is a Jaguar with broader appeal than ever.

News: BMW M-division delivers 300,000th vehicle in 30 years

BMW M3 fq

Munich. 30 years, 300 000 vehicles and a BMW M3 Coupe — these are the most significant earmarks of a remarkable anniversary. Three decades after commencing with the assembly of their first series production model, the BMW M GmbH has now delivered its 300 000th vehicle. The alpine white BMW M3 Coupe was handed over to a customer in Regensburg. This East Bavarian town is also the location of the BMW plant in which the high-performance sports car is produced.

The anniversary vehicle marks a further milestone in the success story of the BMW M GmbH. The number of customers who choose to purchase a BMW M model still continues to grow. Nevertheless, driving a car boasting the M logo remains an exclusive experience. In the year 2007, BMW M GmbH automobiles accounted for around one percent of the BMW Group’s overall turnover worldwide.

The tremendous success of the BMW M GmbH began with a limited production car. In 1978 the company, which was established six years previously as the BMW Motorsport GmbH, presented a mid-engine racing car, featuring a straight six-cylinder power unit that was utilised in the newly founded ProCar series. The car was also produced for reasons of homologation with a 204 kW/277 bhp road version. The two-seater car, which had long become a legend and which, in its anniversary year, was recently abundantly honoured at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2008 at Lake Como, was the fastest German series production sports car when launched. 445 BMW M1 cars were produced up to 1981, one of them being the Art Car designed by Andy Warhol.
Other models included in the range as from 1984 achieved considerably higher production figures. It was then that the BMW M GmbH corporate philosophy, which is still applicable to this day, was established. The aim was to develop high-performance automobiles, which were suitable for everyday road traffic and would fascinate through discrete aesthetics and drive and suspension technology directly inspired by motor racing. This applied unreservedly to the first BMW M5 with a 210 kW/286 bhp straight six-cylinder power unit for example. Thanks to its performance and its understatement factor, the saloon car was extremely popular amongst business travellers.

Two years later, a further M model laid the foundation stone for a new vehicle category. The BMW M3, ancestor of the current fourth model generation, caused a stir both on the road and on the racetrack. It is the most successful touring car ever utilised in motor sports, also becoming a huge commercial success within a very short time. 17,000 first-generation BMW M3 automobiles alone were sold. To this date, the car, which is currently available as the BMW M3 Coupe, the BMW M3 Saloon and the BMW M3 Convertible, accounts for the largest proportion of overall BMW M GmbH vehicle sales.

During the course of the first ten years, around 35,000 BMW M automobiles were put on the road. In 1994, five-digit figures were achieved for the first time within a year. Since then, record sales figures have been consistently achieved, with sales of all BMW M GmbH models continuing to rise further with each new generation. Worldwide purchases of the new BMW M3 alone exceeded 4,000 in the first four months of the current year — even before the market launch of the BMW M3 Convertible and the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic. The USA is the most important market for BMW M automobiles, and on the European continent the high-performance sports cars are much coveted in the UK, Germany and Italy.

The vehicle portfolio of the BMW M GmbH currently comprises nine models, all featuring engines with individual characteristics derived from the high-revving concept. The BMW Z4 M Roadster and the BMW Z4 M Coupe boast a straight six-cylinder with 252 kW/343 bhp, the BMW M5, and the BMW M5 Touring, the BMW M6 Coupe and the BMW M6 Convertible all feature a 373 kW/507 bhp V10 engine. Both power units are series winners of the “International Engine of the Year Awards”, which the new 309 kW/420 bhp V8 engine utilised in the BMW M3 was also able to seize in its category this year.

News: Renault launches Laguna wagon in New Zealand

Renault Laguna SW

An economical yet torquey diesel engine coupled to a six speed automatic transmission is the cornerstone of the Renault Laguna Wagon which is being launched in New Zealand.

It is the only model of the mid-sized French car available at launch, boasting a comprehensive specification, with one of the highest five star European NCAP crash testing safety ratings, four star child occupant protection and a combined cycle fuel consumption of just 7.1 litres/100 kms.

The Laguna Wagon 2.0 dCi Auto will provide an alternative for executive car buyers who don’t want a Japanese brand and who cannot justify the extra expense of a German marque. The motor’s maximum torque of 340 Nm arrives at just 2000 rpm, making it ideal for over taking on the open road and pulling strongly up hills, or idling around town in stop — start city traffic. A particulate filter is standard. Servicing is only required annually or every 20,000km.

The motor has CO2 emission of only 188 grams per kilometre. It is priced at $54,990.

News: Citroen wins awards for security

Citroën has picked up more awards than any other manufacturer at this year’s British Insurance Car Security Awards at Thatcham’s Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, the world’s leading test centre for security, theft-proofing and insurance research.

Citroen won the vehicle security awards for no less than four different models, demonstrating Citroën’s commitment to security across its range.

Citroën’s C6 picked up the top spot in the Executive class for the second year in a row, as did the C4 Picasso, clinching the Compact MPV accolade. The popular C4 and the soon to be launched in New Zealand Citroën C5 dominated the family vehicle categories, taking both the Small Family and Family titles respectively.

Citroën’s success at this year’s event means the Company has now received an unprecedented fourteen security accolades since the British Insurance Car Security Awards were launched just five years ago.

News: First Chinese car from Great Wall Motors to be imported to NZ and Australia

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China’s first car brand to make its Australian and New Zealand debut will arrive in October of this year, more than six months earlier than previously predicted, when Sydney and Auckland-based importer, Ateco Automotive launches Great Wall Motor.

Ateco has been negotiating with GWM for almost three years. Strict confidentiality agreements have precluded Ateco from confirming that it has not only concluded negotiations but it also has been working on homologating the first GWM vehicle to be sold in Australia. GWM will debut with a double can Ute that will retail for well under $20,000 in both Australia and New Zealand.

“The GWM double cab Ute will be just the start,” says Ric Hull, Managing Director, Ateco Automotive Pty Ltd. “The Ute will be followed soon after with a single cab Ute, a compact SUV and an entry level light car.  Pricing will be comparable to similar Korean models with a significantly higher specification.”

GWM is one of China’s leading car makers and it has been consistently at the top of its domestic car market with its Ute and SUV models.

“From day one we have been thoroughly impressed with GWM,” says Mr Hull. “World class production facilities are becoming commonplace in China and there is no doubt that GWM has set the production benchmark.  But what sets GWM apart is the corporate culture that permeates through the organisation.  The company motto is ‘Improving little by little every day’ and from what we have seen the staff really do live and breathe this philosophy. Every time we go to GWM’s head office in Baoding, we are impressed by the progress that has been made since our last visit.”

“We targeted GWM for our Chinese plans because they are highly disciplined, organised and well led,” says Mr Hull.

To prepare for the launch of its Chinese brands, Ateco has made some key management changes. David Stone, who was instrumental in setting up the Hyundai, Daewoo and Kia networks, will over see the appointment of dealers to distribute Ateco’s new Chinese brands, with a target of 50 dealers across Australia for the launch of GWM in October. In New Zealand the GWM distribution business will be run from Ateco’s Mount Wellington headquarters in Auckland via dealer network five to six dealers at launch. The New Zealand product range will be common with Australia.

In addition to its Sydney headquarters, Ateco will also appoint regional managers for the key state operations, working to Peter McGeown who is newly appointed to the role of National Sales Manager. McGeown has worked with Ateco as Queensland Regional Manager when Ateco represented Kia and he was involved with Daewoo and Toyota. He will be responsible for setting up an entire sales and marketing infrastructure for GWM, which will include national as well as regional activities.

Full details, prices and specifications of the new GWM range will be announced when they go on sale in October.

News: New boss for Holden New Zealand

Holden New Zealand today announced that Simon Carr would succeed Peter Keley as Managing Director, effective from the 1 August, 2008. Simon joined GM Holden in 2001 following 20 years experience in the automotive industry with prior roles with the Nissan Motor Company in the United Kingdom.

News: Jaguar and Land Rover create 600 new jobs

Jaguar Land Rover is launching a major recruitment drive to attract up to 600 new employees. The focus of the campaign will be to recruit engineers to work on exciting new technology and product development programmes. There are also a significant number of key vacancies in purchasing, finance and human resources.

Jaguar Land Rover is investing £700m in sustainable technologies to improve the environmental performance of its vehicles and is looking for experienced, degree educated engineers to work within the product development function on a variety of ground-breaking projects.

In addition, Jaguar Land Rover is launching a brand new graduate programme for over 80 graduates who will join the business in September. Graduates will participate in a number of activities and events over their two year development period while at the same time integrating themselves into their chosen department.

The recruitment drive comes as the business transitions to new ownership. Jaguar is experiencing a surge in worldwide sales thanks in part to the award winning XF saloon and Land Rover, which has achieved three successive years of record sales, has recently revealed the forward looking and critically acclaimed LRX Concept.

Announcing the scheme, newly appointed Jaguar Land Rover CEO David Smith said: “This recruitment drive demonstrates Jaguar Land Rover’s confidence in our future. With our new owners, we have entered an exciting era with stunning new models and ambitious technologies. I can’t remember a better time to be part of the British car industry, and certainly it is a brilliant time for Jaguar Land Rover.”

Sustainability is a business imperative and we need both experienced and newly qualified graduate engineers to progress the technology projects of the future.”

Des Thurlby, Jaguar Land Rover’s HR Director, said, “The campaign is up and running and Jaguar Land Rover will be targeting a number of different employment sectors to attract top quality candidates. We shall also be working through a variety of channels from press advertisements to the graduate milkround, and a new dedicated recruitment website. The work on offer is cutting-edge and the rewards impressive. This business has a bright future and we think it will be a very attractive place to work for the best in our industry here in the UK.”

The latest recruitment announcement follows previous employment initiatives. In March, Jaguar Land Rover launched a campaign to recruit over 60 apprentices to join our Advanced Modern Apprenticeship Scheme. The company has also had a tremendous response to the campaign to recruit 25 undergraduates for the
Product Development Industrial and Vacation Placements programme.