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STYLING | 9 out of 10
Mini encourages customization of each car, and is now offering three “design worlds” to serve as inspiration. Dubbed Rally, Classic, and Scene, each is a family of suggestions for body and roof colors, wheel designs, and interior elements hand-selected by designers as a stylish jumping-off point for tweaking your Mini.
Car and Driver
Mini's design job is clever. The longer roof appears flat at first glance, yet there's a gentle curve to it.
A slightly ungainly profile that resembles a Ford Flex that has been left in the clothes dryer too long.
The overall look makes a strong statement that this is a different model of MINI, and contributes positively to the defined goal of making the MINI design unique on the road.
Left Lane News
Retro styling with classic good looks
At first glance there's not much to separate the Clubman from the Cooper hatchback aside from the added size, but closer inspection reveals a slightly different front end, side details, and a more vertical rear.
New design elements for 2011 include redesigned tail lights an a new rear bumper, plus a revised interior that takes away some of the chrome in favor of more matte black. Despite the updates, proportions and overall profile remain true to the original Mini wagon variants including the Countryman and Traveller. The Clubman S adds several sportier cues to the exterior, including new brake ducts up front and different wheels.
Inside the Clubman, the homage to the original MINI is less evident. A wacky, large, and optimistic 160-mph speedometer is mounted in the center of the dash and does share a link to the past, but it's as much a distraction as an instrument, the large plastic lens casting glare. A multitude of switches, toggles and buttons mire the dash in complexity, while somehow managing a coherent theme that's easy to appreciate, if not love.
New tweaks for 2011, which include a new audio control layout, should help fix some of the issues, slightly improving ergonomics for that system, at least.
The 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman has the right heritage and styling cues, but its crazy-quilt controls and cockpit styling look better than they act.