News : MINI Clubvan rolls-up for business

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Possibly the most sensible MINI variant to date is launched, following its warm reception at the Geneva. The Clubvan’s arrival leaves just the pick-up to come…

MINI for the small businessman...
Clubvan: MINI for the small businessman…

Making its global premiere at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Clubvan is an interesting – and some would say overdue – addition to the MINI range. It’s being dubbed a ‘premium’ commercial vehicle, which majors on style over its more traditional rivals.

Just like the Geneva concept, it has five-doors, with split rears, and ‘clubdoor’ that might not be the last word in practicality, but do add an element of flexibility and novelty to the panelled-in Clubman. The load bay extends from the wide-opening double doors at the back of the vehicle to a sturdy internal bulkhead immediately behind the driver and passenger seats. That’s made from a solid aluminium lower section with a steel mesh upper.

The blocked-out rear side windows are body-coloured and feature interior polycarbonate reinforcement. Inside, the cargo area stretches back 115cm and, even at its narrowest point just behind the rear doors, is 102cm wide. With the bulkhead to protect the driver and/or passenger, it can be loaded right to the roof which measures 84cm at its highest point. That means 860 litres of space and a maximum payload capacity of 500 kg.

Featuring powertrain and chassis technology from the Clubman, it comes with powerful and efficient four-cylinder engines. Three versions will be available; the 98bhp MINI One Clubvan, the 122bhp MINI Cooper Clubvan and the 112bhp MINI Cooper D Clubvan. All come with MINI’s familiar front-wheel-drive set-up, Electric Power Steering, MacPherson strut front suspension, multi-link rear suspension and powerful brakes. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but an optional six-speed automatic transmission is also available.

Built in Britain at Cowley, the Clubvan’s exterior dimensions are identical to those of its sibling. It’s 3961mm long, 1683mm wide and 1426mm high, with a wheelbase of 2547mm. The Clubvan is the seventh unique member of the MINI family, selling alongside the Clubman, Hatch, Convertible, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster.

Retail prices, excluding VAT:

  • MINI One Clubvan, £11,175
  • MINI Cooper Clubvan, £12,475
  • MINI Cooper D Clubvan, £13,600

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

34 Comments

  1. I like it. I reckon in a pale blue with the plain steel wheels for a really simple, almost 60s look would be good. All you’d need is a mattress in the back to relive some old glories….

  2. At least this is one Bini variant where there is some point to the excercise- and not grossly overpriced either. It is, of course, possible to buy more practical vans for less money, but that would not really be the point.

    For those for whom image is everything, this offers at least a limited amount of practicality, even though some aspects are, as usual for the Bini, poorly conceived for the purpose- eg ‘barn doors’ that don’t appear to open to 180 degrees, and which will obviously block access to the pavement when parked on the road in cramped parking spots, and also there is a roof overhang that prevents leaning into the boot (great on a van, that!). Barn doors are not fitted to larger panel vans for style, they are there to facilitate loading by forklift- a tailgate would be too long and too heavy for most vans, and would block the mast of the forklift. And invariably, they open to at least 180 degrees, optionally to 270.

    The boot appears to be carpeted, which is entirely impractical for a van, even an upmarket one, and then there is the so-called ‘club door’- which is clearly a gimmick- the German manufacturer of this pseudo-British vehicle thinks so little of the UK market that it is only ever offered on the offside, behind the driver’s door, where it is almost entirely useless- mind you, BMW knew full well that many British buyers would put image well ahead of practicality, so the apparent snub to the British (and other RHD markets) would not cause sales to suffer. And having a lightweight mesh bulkhead won’t put off the intended purchasers, as no tradespeople would remotely consider buying it, so the lack of a means to keep dust out of the cab is not paramount. Indeed, the last thing BMW would want would be for common electricians or plumbers to be seen driving their vans- in their eyes, that would ‘lower the tone’…

    Ok, so we have a van which will cause no end of frustration if used as such, but for those who can put up with the lack of practicality that this vehicles offers, at least it will superficially reflect well on that business to be operating what appears to be a ‘high class’ goods vehicle. So no doubt, small boutique businesses from Cheltenham to Chelsea will soon be flocking to their nearest Bini sales room.

    And, to be fair to the Binivan, it does look a wee bit prettier than a Fiat Doblo…

  3. GAH!!!!!

    Just been curious and tried to download a brochure for the standard Clubman from the Bini website.

    You can’t do that without supplying them with personal details, which I’m really not prepared to do (and given my animostity with that marque- I don’t want to tell them where I live…).

    So I tried just using the various links to get spec related info, but BMW, along with just about every other manufacturer, seem to do all in their power to prevent you having direct answers to your query. Their attitude seems to be one of ‘We can see you are trying to access info about our vehicle’s in-car entertainments by clicking on the specified link, so instead here is a random image of some impossibly good looking family having a picnic next to our featured car beside a lake’…

    Ok, I can understand the phsychology of supermarkets placing associated items at opposite ends of the store, eg eggs and bacon, cereals and milk; it is so that on your extended journey from one to the other you’ll be tempted by all the other products and offers in between.

    A website is not like that. Web users are accustomed to getting information directly. If I want to check out whether a car can have factory fit sat-nav, I don’t want to be directed to the John Cooper Work’s trashy stick-on kitsch section…

    Sometimes I wonder what planet marketing people are from- and why they seem to go out of their way to antagonise their prospective customers. As with many of their cars, it seems like even with their marketing BMW pursue irrelevency over substance…

  4. @1, Peter Harris,

    As for your comment about putting a mattress in the back, I doubt one would fit, unless it was one designed for midgets.

    It would make a good advertising strapline, though.

    BMW Mini- the Ultimate Dogging Machine…

  5. I like it.

    Of all the MINI variants, the Clubman is probably my favourite and would be the one I would buy if I had the money. The van just makes that variant range even more appealing, although probably not too practical for my dog-walking business!

    I’m glad MINI have decided to release this, I wish them all the best with it.

  6. If you was Arthur Askey or Douglas Bader then perhaps you could relive old glories,a florist van,deli delivery van,pharmacy van i cant see much wrong with it,unless it gets stupid options.Keep it simple,steel wheels nothing cute nothing fancy and it will be alright.

  7. Great for many firms with only light loads and who are also image conscious.

    However, I do wonder will it have a negative effect on the image of the rest of the range. We are no longer talking 1980 and Mayfair versus MiniVan.

  8. I don’t think so, David.

    I am not even sure if it will be marketed within the same showrooms as the others. In saying that, there are no other commercials in the BMW/MINI range so it will be interesting to see how they sell it.

    It would be nice to see the Post Office, Gas Board and other former users of the ‘old school’ van take some on board, rather than Peugeot Bippers (what sort of bloody name is that!!!) and Transit Connects (spawn of the devil).

  9. It certainly lacks practicality and seems rather well appointed for a commercial vehicle…..

    However when calculating the income tax due on benefits in kind, company vans are treated differently to cars. With many drivers not paying any additional tax. So how long before your local estate agent swaps their Mini for a Van?

  10. I can’t see big fleets like the Post Office, BG, etc, taking these on.

    For a start the vans they do have are far more practical, and because of the size of their fleets, they get huge price reductions.

    BMW would not want to have their vans used in a utilitarian way, and then see residuals drop because of over-supply of second-hand vans when they got sold on- that would completely defeat the object of claiming the Binivan to be a ‘premium’ product. So you can expect to see these in a regular Bini showroom alongside the usual suspects.

    @Paul T- van manufacturers do tend to lumber their products with daft names, Bipper, Nemo, Jumper, etc, not forgetting the Mazda Bongo Friendee. And when I was a care worker I used to drive a Peugeot Expert Teepee. It didn’t look much like a wigwam to me…

  11. I reckon that a lot of buyers will be young childless couples with active lifestyles. They can then throw mountain bikes etc in the back easily (once they’ve covered up the posh carpet, that is!)

    I reckon that BMW ought to offer a third seat behind the clubdoor, with a window in the clubdoor as well. That would make a very practical three seater. Plenty of people only ever need three seats at the most.

  12. Its also a good basis for a popemobile or a Bedford HA van inspired ice cream van.It shouts lesbian this van too.

  13. I saw one of the SUV minis the other day in “black” i didnt like the concepts i saw on this website but it looks good in real life. (as i havent seen an MG6 yet so theres hope for MG 😉 ). but the car above looks good, i just wish they would put second door on the pavement side for the RHD market. but i guess as the passenger varienties only have four seatbelts there wont be a long que getting in or out of the car, . alex

  14. Minispares in manchester have a cooper pickup i was looking at it on saturday and a very well executed conversion-the only purpose it serves is a advertisement for the company,not my cup of tea personally.

  15. I liked the original prototype, and like this production version.

    They won’t sell it to fleets, as the fleet buyers would expect large discounts, and tatty vans operating in large fleets isn’t what they’re after. There’s definitely a market for upmarket vans for owners of small upmarket businesses (flowers, upmarket catering businesses etc)

    Didn’t MGR try for this market with the Rover Commerce and MG Streetwise vans…

  16. I’m genuinely surprised that MINI are p*ssing about with this ridiculous thing. Are they bored over in MINI land these days? I suppose when you sell what amount to one image and car your attention starts to wander…. Yes the Mini used to come as a van, yes it sold well, but it was hardly an icon of it’s time, I really don’t think this was a homage that needed to be made…

  17. Not really a commercial vehicle is it. Even for cakes and flowers! That nice high bumper covered in nice shiny paint finish. Bit of an A35 pick up really. Oh yes and those expensive alloys and low profile tyres. Just what a small business in these recessionary times needs!
    Or perhaps the AA could get a few, for old time sake, and perhaps if they spoke nicely to the DVLA they could even get some of those old FGN reg numbers to go on them. Just the thing for the jubilee year.

  18. Our fleet is 100% Pugrat, mostly Bipper Professional Spec vans, which are loaded to the gunwhales with toys. Bluetooth-Check, aircon-Check, USB slot for I-pod etc-Check, leccy windows and mirrors-Check, heated windscreen-Check, and a side loading door on the correct side for UK use! And if you think these vans aren’t tough, well ours do on average anything between 10,000 & 15,000 miles a month! They are in use 24/7. Something like this Binivan wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the real world of commercials. Body coloured bumpers & alloys? DUH!

  19. Shock horror, manufacturer with succesful product spins additional variants of the model off the same platform to boost market share and profits with minimum investment. Its what every half decent manufacturer does and one of the many reasons why BMC/BL/Rover/Weird Beard Autos went bust!

  20. Right, including VAT for the diesel, it is £16,320, which is a shedload of money for a tiny, impractical, waste of time, that a europallet won’t fit in the back of. You would struggle to fit a small chest of drawers in it too. Any business who actually buys one will get shouted at by their accountant and bank manager for being a swivel eyed idiot, with more money than sense. And remember, many small businesses fall below the VAT registration threshold, so claiming the VAT back wont happen, oh and claiming the full VAT back on petrol is a toughy, but with diesel it is easy.

  21. If the diesel were sufficiently low emissions to be exempt from C-charge it’d also qualify for tax advantages for VAT and non-VAT registered businesses alike. You don’t have to be at the threshold for VAT to register, either, though why anyone would do such a crazy thing defeats me.

    However, I like it. I’d have one:

    Small, funky vehicle with panelled in side, photo kit is secure and room to sign write.
    Few vans are long enough for background rolls as it is – if the passenger seat can be folded flat, that’ll do. Otherwise, roof rack and roof box.
    Door on driver’s side = open door, open rear door, retrieve camera bag.

    It is the ideal photographer’s vehicle. Unpretentious but stylish, big enough for reasonable amounts of kit without being ostentatiously commercial – in a subdued colour with subtle logos, wouldn’t be out of place at a wedding or event.

    I am seriously considering one. If the leasing deals are good, I might just go for it.

  22. One of my neighbours has got one of these to replace his 207 van.

    I initially thought it was just a Clubman with panelled out rear windows (well, technically it is, but BMW do it for you).

    Doesn’t have the black alloys though, has standard 15 inchers.

  23. I’m sorry, but for the price of one of these, you can get 2 Fiat Fiorino (Bipper etc) vans, which can take a europallet. Sorry, its a big fat juicy fail for me.

  24. I would be interested in what job he does.
    Haven’t got talking as we aren’t long moved into the area, but the 207 was always in good condition and had no battlescars like plumbers vans etc would collect.
    It really does look like a Clubman with body coloured vinyl covering the rear windows. The drivers-side rear door might make it easy for jumping out and grabbing items from the rear.

    Last time I drove a Fiat Fiorino, it didn’t seem to have much braking power. Was a scary drive.

  25. I once saw a PT Cruiser van and secretly liked it.

    S-Cargo was a good call. Inspired by the 2CV (Escargot – geddit?). Looked like a toy or something from a Pixar film.

    Though the huge windscreen / side windows and tall roof seem to be all the rage with small vans now that they aren’t directly car-derived.

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