TopGear.com25 February 2014

Mini Clubman concept: not backwards

‘Estate’ design study of new Mini kills weird suicide rear door, retains strange access to boot

As any urban estate agent shall breathlessly inform you, the third-generation ‘new Mini' is here. We have driven it, and it is good.

And already the MkIII Mini has spawned its first child in the shape of this Clubman concept.

This is no toe-in-the-water design study, but instead concrete proof that a new Clubman will arrive sooner rather than later. And the big news is that it's lost the weird rear door arrangement.

Unlike the wonky-apertured current Clubman, which has a pair of conventional front doors but a ‘suicide' reverse-hinged rear on the left-hand side only, the new car has four regular doors, two on each side.

That said, the new Clubvan still packs some oddness in the ingress/egress department: access to the boot is, like the current Clubman, through a pair of side-hinged ‘barn doors'.

So what else do we know about the new Clubman concept? Well, it's considerably larger than the current car - 26cm longer and a full 17cm wider, no less - and wears utterly vast wheels: Mini doesn't say exactly what size those blingy rims are, but they look no smaller than 20-inchers.

We know there are three seats in the back - no Countryman-style centre rail here - and that the central display screen packs a yet-posher version of the new hatch's touchscreen system.

But don't be fooled: despite the concept flourishes, this car is nailed-on for production. However, we also know that a five-door Mini - not the new Countryman but a smaller hatch based on the same platform as the three-door Mini - will arrive before the end of the year.

So where does that leave the (essentially five-door) Clubman when it arrives? Would you take the production version of this over a five-door Mini hatch? In fact, do you want a more-door Mini at all?

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