MINI builds a van
British marque adds the Clubvan Concept to its lineup amid mixed opinions.
MINI's quest for world domination continues here at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, with the British marque rolling out the usual complement of hatchbacks, drop-tops, estates, crossovers and coupes. Now, MINI is adding a van to that list.
That's right — a van. At least there's historical precedent, with the original Mini van from the U.K., but is the company niching itself into oblivion with the Clubvan Concept?
2012 MINI Clubvan Concept
What is it? Think of a MINI Clubman with the rear seats ripped out and a sturdy mesh divider clamped behind the front seats. It's literally a van, just as the 1960 original was, and MINI sold 900,000 of those.
What's hot? If you're after a premium small van, the Clubvan will suit you perfectly. It features twin side-hinged rear doors, drawing upon the history of the original MINI van, as well as the Clubman's side door to help improve access for loading.
What's not? Vans are used to store and transport stuff and often get dirty and damaged. We wouldn't fancy shelling out for a premium small load-lugger only for it to take a pounding, but then again, maybe MINI has aimed the Clubvan at a different type of customer requiring decent load space.
How much and when? All this is immaterial anyway, because the Clubvan is only a concept vehicle. But MINI says it is testing the market for "the first premium model in the small car-based van segment," so let's not rule out a production version.
Anything else I should know? The MINI Clubman — the car on which the Clubvan is based — boasts a load capacity of almost 33 cubic feet with its rear seats down. MINI hasn't released an official volume for the Clubvan's load bay, but it's expected to exceed the Clubman's capacity with that all-important flat floor. There are also extra 12-volt outlets in the load area. The 1.6-liter engine is an all-new design, uprated to both produce more power and handle the car's 4-wheel-drive running gear. It produces up to 221 lb-ft of torque thanks to an overboost function.