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First Look: Mini Clubvan Concept

It’s a Mini van, but not a minivan.

by on Feb.20, 2012

Mini's Clubvan concept echoes the design of the original 1960 Morris Mini Van.

The newest offering from Mini might properly be described as a van, but it is decidedly not a minivan.

The British maker is offering a sneak peek at the Mini Clubvan, a concept due to debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show based on the British marque’s current Clubman model.

The show car is based on a body style that has become extremely popular in Europe, here featuring two seats up front separated by a steel honeycomb partition from a reasonably roomy cargo compartment.  The Ford Transit Connect is one of the first versions of this approach to reach U.S. shores.

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The Clubvan, declares the maker, has the potential to significantly expand the brand’s appeal by resolving one of its biggest drawbacks, “with increased load-carrying capability.”

“The Mini experience,” it continues, “will therefore find its way into new areas of life, the brand’s distinctive character gaining new popularity among target groups not previously on the Mini radar.”

The Clubvan features five-door access, include two rear barn doors adopted from the Mini Clubman.

The show car doesn’t look especially practical, featuring coal-gray cloth                 fabric for the cargo bay’s floor and side walls – perhaps reflecting the maker’s suggestion that the concept would be perfect for fashion designers (do they make home delivery?) as well as “an art gallery owner or catering service.”

Nonetheless, it’s long been rumored Mini might, indeed, add some sort of van to its fast-growing line-up, and the Clubvan seems to be a very clear hint of what’s to come.

As with the Clubman, access to the cargo compartment is through a pair of barn-style rear doors.  There’s also a suicide-style rear door on the passenger side of the Clubvan to allow cargo to be reached from the side.  Meanwhile, the concept gets a set of six tie-down loops to secure those dresses and mannequins – or whatever other cargo might be at hand.

Unlike the Mini Countryman, the maker’s first all-wheel-drive crossover, the  Clubvan wouldn’t be precedent-setting. The Brits introduced the original Morris Mini Van back in 1960, stretching the wheelbase of the original Morris Mini by about 4 inches, the maker notes, adding that “50 years on, the Mini Clubvan concept sees history repeating itself.”

Based on the rapid roll-out of other Mini concepts – along with recent hints from the maker’s executives, don’t be surprised if the Mini Clubvan were to show up in a showroom in the not-too-distant future.

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