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Geneva show: Mini produces a van

Man with a van: Mini’s Geneva show car is finished in the colours of a British signwriter.

Mini goes commercial with production-ready van, but not for Australia

20 Feb 2012

MINI is set to dip its toe into the commercial vehicle waters with the Mini Clubvan Concept, which will make its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show in a fortnight.

The proposed niche city-van concept appears to be a serious production prospect and is expected to go on sale in the UK by the end of this year.

However, Mini Australia head of corporate communications Piers Scott told GoAuto that the company had looked at the Clubvan concept and decided it was “not so relevant to our market”, so it definitely will not be coming here.

The latest in a long line of Mini body variants is based on the Clubman and is therefore 240mm longer overall than the regular Mini hatchback, with an 80mm-longer wheelbase and split rear doors.

As well as dipping into the Mini heritage basket once more, the process of producing a two-seat van effectively reverses history half a century later.

39 center imageIn 1960, the original Morris Mini first spawned a van variant – with the wheelbase extended 100mm – which in turn led to the creation of the ‘Traveller’ model, the precursor to the modern Clubman, with windows and extra seats fitted.

Creating the latest van variant was relatively straightforward, with the Clubman’s rear side windows replaced by polycarbonate panels and the back seats removed to provide the required extra cargo-carrying capacity.

The Clubman’s false boot floor was also removed to provide a deeper load bay, which is separated from the two front seats by a protective partition made of aluminium in the lower part and a stainless steel upper grate that allows for rearward vision.

The load area is entirely flat, fully lined in a ‘high-quality cloth’ while six load attachment loops are recessed into the floor and use elasticated straps to hold cargo in place.

Access is provided by the rear-hinged ‘Clubdoor’ at the side, which is retained from the Clubman body to allow quick loading of smaller items, as well as the side-hinged 50:50 split rear doors that feature heavily tinted glass that help conceal the load compartment.

Although Mini provided no load capacity figures in its pre-Geneva media release, Autocar in the UK reports the van’s capacity is not expected to be much more than 1200 litres – an increase of about 300 litres over the Clubman with its rear seats folded down.

BMW Group’s Mini division describes the Clubvan Concept as “a compact van for business and leisure, and the first premium model in the small car-based van segment”.

“The Mini Clubvan Concept proves that style can also be practical, and that practicality can be attractive,” the company said ahead of the Geneva debut.

“The Clubvan concept opens the door to a completely new market for Mini – premium small businesses who want to combine sharp driving dynamics with low cost of ownership, while also making a style statement with their company van.”

To showcase the image potential for businesses, Mini has presented the Geneva show car in the colours of ‘Hugh Buckingham Signwriter’, a UK company based in Southport.

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