Mini Clubvan Concept Headed for Geneva Auto Show Makes Us Wonder, "Why?"

By Jacob Brown | February 18, 2012
The Geneva Auto Show is chock full of future cars we're falling over ourselves to drive eventually. This is not one of them. Because, quite frankly, it's not for us. Called the Mini Clubvan, it's based on the Mini Clubman, minus a row of seats. In the place of where rear passengers would generally sit is a flat-load floor. Mini says it's designed for fleet use in the fashion industry, or maybe for an art gallery. Mini even suggests its use as a catering vehicle, photographer's van, or even just a weekend leisure vehicle for people with active lifestyles. It works across the pond where closed-window versions of the Ford Fiesta already make rounds as delivery vehicles in urban areas. But for us, it just doesn't work. It's like a Chevrolet HHR Panel Van but less practical, with small quarter doors on either side to shove items in back instead of substantial door openings. Mini says that with this concept, there are six hooks in the flat floor to tie down items and extra 12-volt power sockets. It also has customizable storage compartments, a partition to separate the driver and passenger from a potentially flying paint bucket, and the availability of custom graphics to go over the opaque polycarbonate side windows. Inspired by the Morris Mini Van—the Mini Clubvan's cargo-carrying grandpa from the 1960s—the Clubvan aims to keep contemporary with what can best be described as a chic hauler. But outside of Red Bull, would anyone purchase these in the U.S.? Further, when a vastly larger Ford Transit Connect costs marginally more money than a standard Mini Cooper, does this make much of an impact on the discerning fleet manager? We can see this working as a boutique runabout for niche companies. But we're not so sure of its widespread use. It seems a bit like a novelty to us. As is the case with most fleets, substance comes before style, and while we're fans of the standard 1.6-liter, 121-horsepower Mini Cooper Clubman on which this is based, we'd sooner have something far more practical for our hauling needs. Look for the Clubvan to make its world debut at next month's Geneva Motor Show. Source: Mini

Ya know, this is classic response of the auto "news" agency. This car according to European reports gets over 50mpg in certain configurations. I think this would lend it to more than just a "niche" hauler for "boutique" companies. NO, its not a rally racer or Mommy 350hp SUV. But many small companies want space and MPG right now (at near 4$ a gallon!!). Something that magazines (and I've been reading 'Motor Trend' and 'Car and Driver' for over 20 years) fail to realize. MINI at the least, is a company that tries to make a boring segment of the market fun. Try to report objectively to the intended function: It would set yet another car website, apart.