Review: MINI Clubvan (2012 – 2014)
Ideal for small businesses keen to make the right impression, drives as well as the car it's based on, quirky and stylish interior.
Extra Clubdoor on the 'wrong' side of the van for UK roads, load area is fully trimmed making it vulnerable to bulky or dirty cargo.
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MINI Clubvan (2012 – 2014): At A Glance
The Clubvan is based on the MINI Clubman and features the same split-rear doors and single Clubdoor on the driver's side. But the load bay has been stripped out, the side windows have been body-coloured in vinyl and reinforced with polycarbonate. It's a clever and effective addition to the MINI range and it leaves us asking, 'why so long'?
It's not been built to offer the last word in payload capacity or loadspace, but the Clubvan is aimed at the lifestyle van sector - light users after a vehicle of high image. And in that, MINI has certainly succeeded, having the 'premium' LCV market all to itself right now.
Three models are offered – the MINI One Clubvan, with a 98PS petrol engine, the MINI Cooper Clubvan, with a 122PS petrol engine, and the MINI Cooper D Clubvan with a 112PS diesel engine. All are front-wheel drive and come with MINImalism efficiency technology, which includes start/stop and brake energy regeneration to maximise fuel economy.
Because the Clubvan is classed as a commercial vehicle, business users can claim back their VAT, and so prices quoted exclude VAT. Prices at launch in 2013 started at £11,175 for the One Clubvan rising to £12,475 for the Cooper Clubvan and £13,600 for the Cooper D Clubvan. Four colours are offered – white, blue, green and black - and because the van is based on the Clubman estate it comes well equipped with air con, electric windows, an alarm and DAB radio among the standard fit items.
Great to drive and cool to look at, the Clubvan is a welcome addition to the van market, but one that can easily be turned into an expensive trinket injudiciously optioned-up.
What does a MINI Clubvan (2012 – 2014) cost?
MINI Clubvan (2012 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?
The MINI Clubvan isn't a huge van nor is it capable of carrying much weight, but it is a useful one for small businesses concentrating on local deliveries. Very few Clubvans will be bought on the grounds of sheer logic, not least because the space-to-cost ratio is probably the lowest on the van market.
The load compartment was been thoughtfully kitted out though. There's a sturdy bulkhead behind the driver and passenger, as well as a steel cage. That means the Clubvan’s load area can be easily and safely stacked to the ceiling. The load-floor is flat and usefully shaped, measuring 102cm at its narrowest point plus six lashing points have been fitted to keep smaller items in place, Finally, for those running cool boxes, and who generally need power in their load area, a number of 12v sockets have been fitted.
The split rear doors are a nice retro feature but in truth, a conventional tailgate would serve this purpose far more effectively, albeit with rather less 'cool'. The rear-hinged Clubdoor has been a talking point since the Clubman appeared in 2008 - and although it received much criticism in the press for being on the 'wrong' side of the car for the right hand drive market, most owners report that they love the feature - when they use it. In the van application, the Clubdoor slightly loses its point, but it is useful for pulling out smaller light objects.
The webbing on the floor and those lashing points will come in very handy, because we can see the average Clubvan driver enjoying themselves - and that could mean their cargo being flung around the loadspace if left untethered.
What's the MINI Clubvan (2012 – 2014) like to drive?
It's fair to say that the usual rules of what does and does not make a good van don't really apply with the MINI Clubvan. Ford, Renault and Vauxhall probably won't lose a moment's sleep when they see that the Clubvan makes do with a 500kg payload while offering a trifling 860-litre loadspace. And the chances are that MINI dealers won't be stealing their customers. What the MINI Clubvan does though, is establish a new market sector in the UK van market - the 'premium' LCV.
So it's a good job that from the front-seats forward, the Clubvan feels almost identical to the car it's based on. Drivers will get to enjoy the love-it-or-hate-it semi-retro instruments and controls. The main speedometer is centrally mounted and in the standard models, it houses the fuel gauge and warning lights. A secondary steering column-mounted digital speedo is also fitted and this also doubles as the trip computer.
The seats and driving position are excellent, as is the view out. A further plus point is that the Clubvan is kitted out with the MINImalism package, which is standard across the range, so you get start/stop and a gearchange indicator. Both have a real impact on fuel consumption figures, with the Cooper D achieving a claimed 74.3mpg.
The Cooper D is expected to be the biggest seller of the range and as befitting a van bearing that name, it's suitably sporting to drive. With 112PS and 270Nm to haul just 1185kg, it has an excellent power to weight ratio. Between 30-70mph, in particular, it feels impressively quick and responsive.
On motorways, it cruises effortlessly, showing 2200rpm at an indicated 70mph, while on A and B-roads, it's fast, fun and accurate, with the steering and gear change in particular earning brownie points for their responsiveness. You'll love the way the Clubvan corners without any discernible body roll, inspiring confidence because of its grip and poise.
Our Clubvan was fitted with optional 17-inch alloy wheels, which should have ruined the ride quality. But on a mixture of surfaces, ranging from brilliant to appallingly rutted, it always felt firm but well-damped. In short, anyone who ends up driving a Clubvan on delivery duties will enjoy themselves - just as long as their load isn't too fragile.
What do owners think?
Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.
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