Never the coolest or most fashionable segment of the automotive industry it doesn't take much to add a little glamour to the light commercial vehicle segment.
But that’s certainly what the new Mini Clubvan is providing. Based closely on the Mini Clubman passenger model that was launched back in 2007, the Clubvan is aimed at top-end commercial vehicle users for whom a van is also a statement about their business and therefore want something that makes an impression.
But, despite a higher list price that doesn’t mean the Clubvan will be expensive to run. Mini’s passenger car efficiencies mean the 112hp 1.6-litre diesel has an official fuel consumption figure of 72.4mpg, while the two petrol versions, at 98hp and 122hp, both offer an official figure of more than 50mpg. Also, the residual values for the Clubvan should be excellent for a light commercial vehicle, due to a combination of Mini’s brand prestige and the expected low numbers that will mean the used market should be keen to get hold of any being sold.
The cabin is identical to the Mini passenger car, including the huge centrally mounted speedometer, and there will be a longer list of optional equipment than normally expected from a van, with many of the Mini car options offered, including items such as Xenon headlights, audio system upgrade and three different interior upholstery upgrades.
Practicality and load functionality aren’t the biggest Clubvan selling points, with a load volume of 0.9m3 that is no bigger than a Vauxhall Corsavan, and a 500kg payload that’s also average for car-derived vans. The load length is shorter than the Vauxhall or Ford’s Fiesta van as well, but the Mini is about more than simple load-lugging, and the excellent driving characteristics, likened to go-kart-like handling, are present for van drivers for the first time.
The load area is accessible via the twin rear doors with tinted glass or the small side door on the driver’s side. The flat load floor and side walls come trimmed with carpet, and feature six tie-down points and a 12-volt power socket. There’s a half-solid half-mesh bulkhead protecting driver from load.
The Clubvan is an attractive, stylish and fashionable small van that will offer businesses that trade at least partially on reputation to be seen in a vehicle that makes their operation more memorable. There’s currently nothing else like that on offer in the mainstream marketplace, and it’s an exciting development that we’re looking forward to welcoming in to the UK light commercial vehicle arena.
What Van? has selected the Great Wall Steed as Highly Commended in this Editor’s Choice category. The second Chinese brand to launch into the UK after DFSK’s microvans arrived late last year, Great Wall has kicked off with the UK’s cheapest pick-up but is planning an entire range of vehicles in due course.
Excluding VAT, the Steed is under £14,000 from new, putting it up against used pick-ups from the more established brands. Stepping up £2000 to the SE trim level adds an impressive amount of goodies including body-coloured hard top with roof rails, rear parking sensors, chrome side bars and daytime running lights.
The Steed is a fairly crude and uninspiring vehicle to drive and lacks the polish or quality of its considerably more expensive pick-up rivals, but as a budget workhorse it’s certainly worth a look at the prices Great Wall is pitching its Steed at.