Mini gets back in the Clubvan

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In the Swinging Sixties Mini Vans were as familiar as mini skirts. Now BMW is taking the brand back into the commercial vehicle sector in an attempt to replicate the success of that era. James Dallas reports.
BMW has resourcefully expanded its Mini passenger car portfolio since introducing its first model in 2001. However, no commercial vehicle bearing the legendary brand name has appeared since the original Morris Mini Van, launched in 1961, was withdrawn in 1983.
But at the recent Goodwood Festival Of Speed the German marque unveiled its Mini Clubvan, which, it claims, is the world’s first premium compact delivery van.
The Clubvan, based on the Mini Clubman car, has two seats and five doors and will be available in three derivatives when it arrives in showrooms in the autumn.
The Mini One Clubvan costs £11,175, excluding VAT, and is powered by a 98hp 1.6-litre petrol engine; the £12,475 Mini Cooper Clubvan also gets the 1.6 petrol unit but with power output increased to 122hp; and the flagship Mini Cooper D Clubvan costs £13,600 and comes with a 112hp 1.6-litre diesel drivetrain.
Mini is targeting the Clubvan primarily at upmarket urban customers. It says: “Trend-conscious commercial users can now make a stylish and sophisticated statement when carrying out deliveries to their equally discerning customers.”
The brand claims the Clubvan will also prove to be a hit with leisure and lifestyle customers.
The load bay extends from the rear doors up to a half solid, half mesh bulkhead behind the driver and passenger seats. The cargo can be accessed through the split rear door or via the Clubdoor on the driver’s side.
Like the Mini Clubman, the commercial Clubvan’s dimensions are: length 3961mm; width 1683mm; height 1426mm; wheelbase 2547mm.
With blocked-out, opaque, body-coloured rear-side windows and tinted glass in the rear doors, the contents of the load compartment are concealed from prying eyes. The flat loading floor and side walls are trimmed with carpeting and an anthracite roof-liner runs the length of the van. The cargo space also features a 12-volt power socket and six attachment loops to secure loads.
The van has a maximum payload of 500kg and load volume of 0.9m3. The load length is 1015mm and the load width at its narrowest point just behind the rear doors is 1002mm.
Handling ability is not usually uppermost among van buyers’ priorities, but Mini claims the Clubvan will bring “an unprecedented level of driving enjoyment to delivery assignments”, following on from the car version’s acclaimed handling prowess.
To go with the four-cylinder engines, the vehicle features Mini’s traditional front-wheel drive set-up, electric power steering, Macpherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. It also comes with auto stop/start, shift-point display, and brake-energy regeneration to reduce fuel consumption.
With official fuel consumption of 72.4mpg on the combined cycle, the Mini Cooper D Clubvan’s efficiency equates to CO2 emissions of just 103g/km.
The combined cycle consumption for both the Mini One Clubvan and Cooper Clubvan is put at 51.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 129g/km. The latter, Mini claims, also delivers blistering performance for a commercial vehicle with a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.8 seconds and a top speed of 125mph.
All three models come with six-speed manual transmission as standard but the Cooper D Clubvan is also offered as a six-speed automatic.
With looks likely to be a prime consideration for customers as well as performance and practicality, the Clubvan is available in four colours: white, ice blue, British racing green metallic and midnight black metallic. The roof, rear-side windows, C-pillars and exterior mirror caps are body-coloured. The Clubvan also has 15-inch wheels with Delta Spoke styling as standard, but 15, 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels are optional.
Black seats with Cosmos fabric upholstery and a black colour scheme with fine white trimming are standard inside. Interior options include three versions of black leather sports seats, three different interior colours and a leather- trimmed instrument panel.
In common with the rest of the Mini line-up the Clubvan can be specified with Xenon headlights, black headlight shells, adaptive headlights, automatic climate control, parking sensors, automatically dimming interior and exterior mirrors and a tow-bar.
The standard Mini CD radio can be upgraded to the Mini Boost CD radio or the Mini Visual Boost radio. The Mini navigation system is also optional.
Mini is unashamedly pitching the Clubvan at exclusive, professional customers so, unless the architect comes calling, don’t expect to see one at your local building site.


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