CommercialFleet

First drive: Mini Cooper D Clubvan

Review

The Mini brand has been an amazing success since its launch in 2001.

A steady stream of new derivatives have emanated from the factory in Oxford, which is a division of BMW, so it was inevitable that eventually we would see a light commercial vehicle version.

After all, the old Mini van was one a staple of British business back in the 1960s for firms that needed a small commercial vehicle.

The old version may have been cheap and cheerful, but it was not without build quality and reliability problems – something this new model certainly doesn’t suffer from.

As with the Mini car variants, the Clubvan is stylish, funky and incredibly well built.

Although it is unlikely to sell in huge numbers, there is certainly a place for the Clubvan with companies that want to reflect an upmarket and rather artistic image to clients and customers.

Three versions are on offer: the One, the Cooper and the Cooper D (for diesel), and it is the last that is on test here. The basic price is £13,600 ex-VAT, about on a par with the rival Ford Fiesta Van, but this price only tells half the story.

Mini offers a massive array of paid-for extras, so buyers can customise their vehicles exactly to their specification and our test van seemed to have the lot – so much so that the ex-VAT price rocketed to £18,592.

If that’s too much to pay, the lowest One petrol variant weighs in at a more fleet-sensible £11,175.

Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine with an output of 112bhp and 199lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy on the combined cycle is 72.4mpg while CO2 emissions are a low 103g/km.

Meanwhile, standard spec is high, with alloy wheels, six airbags, a DAB radio, a dynamic stability control system, electric windows and mirrors and remote central locking all fitted as standard.

In the rear, there is a full-height mesh bulkhead and plenty of padding, along with six load-lashing eyes. Payload is 500kg, while load volume is 0.86cu m.

Behind the wheel

This vehicle may look like a diminutive little van from the outside, but climb aboard and a space-age black and silver world reveals itself, looking more like the interior of a nightclub than a commercial vehicle.

Our test vehicle featured leather heated sports seats (£220 extra) which hug the figure from top to toe and, despite its size, there was plenty of legroom for both occupants.

A kitchen clock-sized dial in the centre of the dash controls all the functions, such as sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth, although this turned out to be part of a media pack that costs £1,340.

In the back, the cargo area features chunky rear ‘barn’ doors but, sadly, thanks to its car origins, there is a lip, meaning loads cannot simply be slid in or out.

The engine is started by a button (as in the original Mini) and is quiet and smooth, even at motorway speeds.

The designers get top marks for managing to dial in the maximum amount of fun to the driving experience.

It’s a real drive-on-rails ride, although this may lead drivers to push things a little too far and waste fuel.

As long as speeds are kept to a reasonable level, fuel efficiency should hit almost 70mpg, so this van won’t break the bank at the pumps.

Verdict

This vehicle is everything you’d expect from the BMW stable: superb build quality, a stylish interior and ultra-low running costs. As long as space isn’t an issue, the Mini Clubvan will make an excellent addition to any fleet.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.



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Comments

  • Kevi - 26/04/2014 17:53

    All Mini?BMW need to do is make it long enough to sleep inside (e.g. seats fully forward etc), raise the roof line/lower the floor pan and hey presto, the new camper van!!

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