German automaker MINI doesn’t waste a good opportunity to show off some of their newest concept vehicles, especially when you have one of the biggest auto events in the calendar scheduled to open its doors in a few weeks.
On that note, the 2012 Geneva Motor Show is right around the corner and MINI is set to introduce a new concept vehicle called the Clubvan, adding yet another vehicle into their ever-expanding line-up of cars.
Despite still being in its concept guise, the Clubvan Concept is far from some of the previous MINI concepts we’ve seen lately - the Rocketman comes to mind - in that it doesn’t look a whole lot like a prototype but an actual production model.
The design of the concept won’t blow you away, although there are some elements of it that bears attention, including the addition of a partition grille that separates the front passengers from the enormous cargo area.
The car is scheduled to make its world debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show next month, at which point we’ll have more details to share regarding this rather peculiar looking MINI concept.
It remains to be seen if the British company will introduce a production version of the Clubvan.
UPDATE 04/22/12: You can take off that "it remains to be seen" phrase concerning the possibility of production for the Clubvan Concept. According to Inside Line, public reaction to the Clubvan Concept at the Geneva Motor Show was positive enough that MINI has decided to give the green light for production.
Find out more about the MINI Clubvan Concept after the jump
The exterior design of the Clubvan Concept won’t blow you away the same way the Rocketman once did. The unmistakable MINI-styling is all there, complete with bug-eyed front profile, but there’s something about the design of the Clubvan that speaks more to practicality more than style.
What the Clubvan does boast of is its standing as the first premium model in the small-car-based van segment, which might be its ace-in-the-hole considering how markedly reserved its contemporaries are.
The function-led design modifications on the Clubvan speaks of MINI’s design language, and when combined with the British Racing Green exterior paintwork, which extends to the roof, C-pillars and exterior mirror caps, adds a little flavor to the overall product.
Polycarbonate sections - their outer surfaces painted in the car’s body color - and heavily tinted glass for the rear doors make it difficult to see into the load compartment while the sealed side windows bear the logo of a sign design company based in the MINI’s native Great Britain. The Clubvan also has some hand-applied graphics that we hope doesn’t translate to the production model, if there ever is one.
Inside, the Clubvan Concept only has two seats, which might defeat the purpose of it being considered a mini-van, but hey, that’s how the folks at MINI roll. The lack of rear seats is questionable enough in its own right, and in its place, there’s a pretty enormous load compartment in the back that looks to have enough space to store a little house, relative to the size of the car.
The load area reaches from the split rear doors right up to the partition grille behind the two seats. Six attachment loops recessed into the load compartment floor use elasticized straps to hold items of varying lengths, heights and widths in place - without the risk of them sliding around.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned partition grille was installed to ensure that whatever items that are stowed in the loading compartment doesn’t slide over into the front of the car The side walls and floor of the load compartment are trimmed in high-quality anthracite-colored cloth while the roof liner, which extends along the full length of the car, was also dressed in anthracite.
Suffice to say, the Clubvan Concept is as confusing a mini-van concept as we’ve seen a while. The five-door set-up is also pretty strange - two in the front, two in the back, and one in the right-hand side - as is the idea that a car that’s being pegged as a mini-van only has two seats.
No mention was made on what kind of powertrain the Clubvan Concept will carry, but we assume that MINI will use some sort of variation of the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine - one that produces 181 horsepower - that you can find in the Clubman.
Too early to tell since we’re dealing with a concept vehicle here.
It’s really hard to tell what kind of market MINI is targeting with the Clubvan Concept. Obviously, the idea of a two-seater MINI van won’t sit well with a lot of folks looking to buy a family car.
For their part, MINI seems to be realistic with the audience they want to capture with the Clubvan. It’s not meant for families, but rather for those that include fashion designers, art gallery owners, caterers, or even sporting enthusiasts.
Still, we can’t find any kind of allure with this concept because to its core, it’s oddly constructed and seems to have some kind of identity crisis. Is it a mini-van, or is it just a small car with a huge cargo space?
The increased cargo space is a plus
What is it, really?
No powertrain info
We’re better off looking at something else