Not-so-van

I’m thinking overpriced pastries, emergency caviar and small dogs with ribbons on their heads as the payload. I doubt any self-respecting courier, carpenter or contractor will buy one. I doubt even Mini’s own service teams will use them.

But still Mini thinks it’s a good idea to start serial producing their Clubvan Concept, which they presented during the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. At first glance it seems to be little more than a Clubman without rear windows and backseat, so that’s probably exactly what it is. Still, I have no doubt this thing will be immensely popular, potentially even more popular than the Clubman itself.

Imagine all the hip entrepreneurs, funky shop owners and fancy couples without kids that will want one of these, just because it’s a Mini and it looks like it’s practical. A total cargo space of 860 litres sounds pretty decent, but then one should look at the three orthogonal dimensions that constitute this volume and things look a little less convenient. At its narrowest point, the cargo hold is less than 41 inches wide, whereas the total length is only 46 inches. Thinking about transporting a two-person bed? Forget about it!

How about 700 bottles of wine (which should actually fit according to my basic calculations)? No dice, as that will exceed the car’s maximum cargo weight of 1,100 pounds. It seems wine traders and alcoholics are also better off with a Merc Sprinter or the like.

But you have to give it to the little thing: it looks good. Reminds me of one of those old delivery vans with the wooden side panels, especially when painted in ‘dirty white’ and a company logo on the side. Nostalgic is the word, which is different from Mini’s usual ‘retro’.

With petrol and diesel engines available with between 98 and 122 horsepower, the Clubvan is not going to be fast. Still, it’s going to be presented to the public next weekend, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Another reason to go!

Delivery – no pun intended – starts this autumn.

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