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Though small, the 2013 Mini Clubvan could find a niche for commercial use.
A Mini that can haul stuff makes sense; versatile cargo area; cool variation on wagon style.
Two-seat configuration limits usefulness to mainstream buyers; not all that roomy, even without the rear seats.
The 2013 Mini Clubvan is an all-new model.
Your eyes don't deceive you. The 2013 Mini Clubvan is indeed another Cooper spin-off, this one from the stretched Clubman. For the Clubvan, however, Mini uses opaque, body-colored rear windows and ditches the second row in favor of a flat load floor and carpeted walls. It retains the Clubman's passenger-side access door as well as the dual rear side-by-side doors, making this essentially a kind of Clubman panel van.
The Clubvan concept shown at this year's Geneva auto show sat atop a 4-inch-longer wheelbase than the Clubman. If this specification makes it to production, the Clubvan will have the longest wheelbase of any current production Mini.
Reinforcing the Clubvan's working credentials are 12-volt charging sockets and tie-downs in back, as well as a stainless-steel mesh partition to keep goods and cargo from ending up in the driver's lap. Although the Clubvan won't offer a whole lot of room back there, presumably it will provide more than the current Clubman's 32.8 cubic feet.
For the U.S., the Clubvan will come with the same 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder found in the base Clubman. The transmission choices are expected to be the same as well, with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic being available. We still like the idea of a turbocharged 181-hp engine from the Clubman S, but for now Mini hasn't made any official announcements about an S variant.
Who exactly will want a two-seat panel van in the shape of a Mini? The automaker seems to think small boutique businesses and delivery services -- florists, bakeries, medical suppliers -- will like the Clubvan's small urban-size footprint and its dash of style. Mini also contends that the Clubvan will resonate with lifestyle buyers like DJs, artists and outdoors types.
A Mini van isn't such a new idea. Only a year after the original Mini debuted in 1959, a Morris Mini Van appeared, aimed at the same type of commercial use as the Clubvan.
American buyers should see the 2013 Mini Clubvan later this year at near or just below the current $25,000 base price of the Clubman. Check back for a full review of the Mini Cooper Clubvan, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice, as it becomes available.
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