Monday, February 20, 2012

Mini reveals Clubvan Concept ahead of Geneva debut

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It's a Mini. It's a van. But it's not a minivan. That's because the sort of van we're talking about here is a panel van – think of the Ford Transit Connect or recently departed Chevrolet HHR Panel – a vehicle with two seats up front, a partitian behind the cockpit and nothing but a flat load floor in back. These little workaday runabouts are immensely popular in Europe, and Mini has decided to get in on the action with its latest concept, the Clubvan, which will officially debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Seeing this concept confirms earlier rumors about a potential Clubman-based panel van, and aside from the removal of the rear seats and the addition of a stainless steel honeycomb partitian, there isn't much else to separate the Clubvan concept from its passenger-friendly Clubman kin. That makes us think this concept could rather easily make it to production.

But unlike more work-focused vans, the side walls and load floor of the Clubvan are lined with anthracite-colored cloth rather than a durable plastic compound. Then again, Mini is touting the Clubvan as the perfect fleet vehicle for fashion designers and gallery owners rather than drywall contractors or heating and cooling repairmen. The Clubman's five-door layout (that's a driver's door, passenger door, passenger-side suicide door, and dual barn doors out back) remains intact, and Mini has added six attachment loops throughout the rear cargo area to secure goods while they're being transported.

So, why a panel van? The company states that the Clubvan "combines the driving fun for that Mini is renowned with increased load-carrying capability," and that, "The Mini experience 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.


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