Imagine you’re a Sweet 16 princess, and your flotilla of cupcakes shows up in the back of a Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, or something equally boxy and dumb. The shame! We can hardly blame you for that epic meltdown. Cry no longer: Mini has revealed its production Clubvan (it first bowed as a concept at this year’s Geneva show), and boutique delivery services can bring the goods without embarrassing their clientele.
As the pioneer in the “premium compact delivery van” segment—there’s a niche for you—Mini pitches the Clubvan as offering modest hauling capabilities without compromising enjoyment behind the wheel. Powering the wheeled embodiment of these dichotomous concepts is Mini’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with a standard six-speed manual (a six-speed auto is optional), the Italian Job-jobber will march from zero to 60 in an estimated 9.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 124 mph.
The Clubvan’s exterior dimensions are exactly the same as those of the Clubman on which it’s based. The differentiation (other than the single strength of powerplant on offer in the van versus 121-hp Cooper, 181-hp Cooper S, and 208-hp JCW flavors of Clubman) comes aft of the driver’s seats. The rear seats have been replaced with a carpeted load floor, and the Clubvan will swallow slightly more than 30 cubic feet of bite-size cargo. Fragile cargo is locked down via six tie-down hooks, and a partition made of stainless-steel mesh and aluminum makes sure stuff stays where it should during aggressive braking maneuvers. For those who will be hauling goods requiring a charge, the cargo hold is equipped with 12-volt sockets. As befits a delivery vehicle, the rear side windows are polycarbonate-reinforced and covered with a finish color-matched to the exterior. The rear-facing windows are tinted.
If the standard black upholstered seats aren’t your thing—and we’re guessing they may not be if you’re considering a Mini delivery vehicle—you can upgrade to leather-trimmed or full-leather sport seats; further interior upgrades include leather for the dashboard and various trim finishes. Exterior hues are limited to Pepper White, Ice Blue, British Racing Green metallic, and Midnight Black metallic—plus, of course, whatever vinyl wraps computer-repair dudes, dog masseuses, or other businesses decide to fit for themselves. Standard 15-inch wheels can be upgraded to 16- or 17-inchers.
Despite its laborious lot in life, the Clubvan can be fitted with many of the same options as its civilian siblings: adaptive xenon headlights, parking sensors, a 6.5-inch LCD infotainment center screen, Mini Connected infotainment, and a navigation system all are available.
The Clubvan will play at being a cool niche product in the U.S., but the Clubvan wasn’t created just to give cake makers a cuter way to tote red velvet. In Europe, where it also will be offered, several automakers offer van-ified versions of vehicles in the Mini’s size class. For small businesses, the operating costs are lower, the contents are a bit more secure than in a conventional vehicle, and road taxes are significantly reduced. For example, Ford sells a van version of the Fiesta, and General Motors has a similar version of its Opel Corsa.
U.S. pricing for the hippest little van around will be announced closer to the Clubvan’s on-sale date, which is scheduled for this fall.
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