Starting with just one body style with the standard Cooper when it first arrived in the U.S., it seems Mini now has a configuration to fit just about and taste or need. If none of the current models fits your requirements, perhaps the latest edition will. First revealed at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Mini officially announced the Clubvan model for the U.S. market. But like the other Mini models, and as its brand name implies, its capacity and capabilities are relatively modest. Mini specifically points out fashion designers, photographers, caterers and architects as potential customers, although the promotional photos show a mobile dog grooming service.
Its 30.3 cubic-foot cargo area is modest, and slightly more than half the cargo area offered by the recently-discontinued Chevrolet HHR Panel model, which had 57 cubic feet. In Europe, its closest competitor size-wise would be the Ford Fiesta van variant, essentially a two-door Fiesta with blanked-out side windows and no rear seat. The Fiesta Van offers a slightly larger 35 cubic foot cargo area. Compared to Ford's box-shaped urban van, the Transit Connect, the Clubvan's cargo area is a mere fourth of the TC's cavernous 129.6 cubic-foot capacity. However, the Clubvan fares slightly better in the payload department, with an 816 pound capacity, about half the Transit Connect's 1600, and close to the HHR Panel's 900 pound capacity.
Clearly, the Clubvan is not about pure utilitarian practicality, and its available options reflect its trendy urbanite support role. Cloth seating surfaces are standard, but leather is available as an option, as is a navigation system, HID headlights, adaptive headlights, automatic climate control, and park distance control. The only available engine in the U.S. will be the Cooper's naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter, 121 hp four-cylinder engine. European models are also available with the 1.4-liter gas engine from the Mini One model, or a diesel from the D model. The U.S. Clubvan will be available with a standard six-speed manual or optional automatic transmission.
Pricing will be announced closer to the Clubvan's Fall 2012 on-sale date.