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2008 Mini Cooper Clubman

This is the new big Mini. Called the Clubman, it is essentially a stretched version of the regular Cooper. This stretch is to make more room inside, primarily for passengers in the back seat and for cargo in the rear.

Access to the newly created room will be made available through a handful of fancy doors. First, there's the one on the passenger side of the car that is hinged at the rear, suicide door style. This side door will help occupants climb to the back seat, which was previously uninhabitable for adults. It'll still be tight back there, but at least getting back there won't be as hard. Then there's the hatch that has been replaced by a pair of side-by-side doors that open like a refrigerator. Loading and unloading should be a snap with this new configuration, and the possibility of bonking one's head on the open hatch will be eliminated. There's no word yet on how much extra cargo room there is to be found in the Clubman.

Engine choices remain the same as the regular Cooper and Cooper S. There's the 120-hp normally aspirated 1.6-liter four cylinder, along with a turbocharged version making 175 hp. Europeans will get the frugal and torquey 1.6-liter diesel engine; the choice of either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission will be offered with all engines.

Details on specific sale dates and prices have not been released, but Mini has reported the Clubman will go on sale early next year with a modest price premium over the standard Mini hardtop, but below the Mini convertible.