BMW's MINI brand keeps expanding its market range by exploring new product niches. Its latest addition, scheduled to arrive in Canada late this year, is the MINI Clubvan – billed as the world’s first premium compact delivery van.
BMW says it is a versatile choice both for upmarket commercial applications and for non-mainstream leisure and lifestyle use.
With easy access, 860 litres of cargo space and MINI's inimitable style and personality, it just might find an audience with fashion-conscious urban business owners, as well as individuals who want to tote their camping gear, sports equipment and the like with a dash of panache.
Its load area extends from the rear doors to the driver’s and front passenger’s seats, from which it is separated by a fixed partition, comprising a lower solid aluminium section and an upper section of stainless steel mesh.
The cargo area is 115 centimetres long and 102 centimetres wide at its narrowest point, and maximum payload capacity is 500 kilograms. Cargo can be accessed either through split rear doors or a right-side 'Clubdoor'.
The Clubvan's flat load floor and side walls are trimmed in high-quality carpeting, an anthracite roof liner runs the full length of the interior, and the cargo area includes 12-volt sockets that can be used to power electrical equipment.
Six attachment loops recessed into the floor at the edge of the load area can be used to secure cargo, preventing items from sliding around when the vehicle is on the move.
The Clubvan, which made its debut at the 2012 Geneva auto show in concept form, is based on the MINI Clubman platform – the brand's ersatz station wagon. It shares the Clubman's extended wheelbase, a suicide-style rear door on the right side (the 'Clubdoor'), and two vertically-split doors at the rear in place of a liftgate.
Contributing to its commercial-van appearance, the Clubvan's rear side windows are body-coloured and they are protected on the inside with a polycarbonate reinforcement.
Dimensionally, the Clubvan is 3,961 mm long, 1683 mm wide and 1,426 mm high, with a wheelbase of 2,547 mm.
The little van will be offered in Canada in just one variant, the MINI Cooper Clubvan, and it will share MINI's familiar 121-hp, four-cylinder, 1.6-litre engine with the Cooper Clubman and other Cooper stablemates.
The Clubvan's roots can be traced back to 1960, when the original Mini was followed a year after its introduction by the Morris Mini Van. That van model, with a wheelbase extended by ten centimetres, a closed-off load compartment and split rear door, offered the same sort of extra versatility exhibited by the new model.
The new 2013 MINI Cooper Clubvan will be available, in a range of colours and with an extensive list of optional equipment, as an option package as part of the MINI Clubman model lineup. Detailed specifications, including pricing and available options will be announced closer to market launch late in 2012.