Sir Alec Issigonis designed the original Mini to be nippy, practical and, above all, affordable, which is why we're not sure where this concept fits into the greater scheme of things - but it sure is cute.
Say hello to the Mini Clubvan, a showcar built, apparently, in New Jersey for the upcoming Geneva salon. On the outside it's a standard Mini Clubman, but the interior is a clever mix of designer chic and surprising load capability.
BMW calls it “the first premium model in the small-car-based van segment” and sees it as the perfect delivery vehicle for upmarket businesses such as fashion designers, art dealers or caterers - or for a photographer's camera cases, tripods, and lights.
And, especially when owner-driven, the load bay is the perfect place for bulky weekend sport gear, when van and driver are off-duty.
Two seats, five doors, plenty of potential
The Clubvan's load bay extends from the split rear doors up to the partition grille behind the two seats, with a totally flat floor that has six attachment loops for tie-downs.
The partition grille, its lower section in sheet aluminium and its upper half in stainless-steel honeycomb grating, is securely mounted to the body to stop the cargo arriving on the flight deck under heavy braking.
The side and floor of the load compartment are trimmed in dark grey fabric, and the matching roof liner extends the full length of the interior as if to emphasise that this is actually supposed to be a working vehicle.
The standard five-door Clubman body translates rather well to cargo-carrying, with unlimited entry to the cargo bay through the split rear doors and quick access through the rear-hung right-side half door for a clipboard, toolbox or laptop.
LEADING THE CHARGE
Said laptop can also be charged between jobs from one of the two 12V sockets just inside the rear doors, as can cordless screwdrivers, or laser measuring tools. BMW also points out that the cabin is square enough to fit shelves or storage bins as required.
The Mini Clubvan concept is finished all over in British racing green, without the usual contrasting roof and mirrors, and with all the side windows aft of the B pillar painted over, allowing plenty of space for branding, while heavily tinted glass in the rear doors makes it difficult to see into the load bay. The hand-applied logos on the sides of the concept are those of a British sign company that specialises in doing similar graphics for its customers.
The Clubvan is not actually a new idea; within a year of its introduction Issigonis stretched the platform of the original Mini by 100mm to create the Mini Van, which later became the all-glazed, four seat Traveller. That was the inspiration for the current Clubman so, after more than 50 years, the wheel has come full circle.