• Two seat cargo van concept
  • Lightweight polycarbonate doors
  • With Mini's go-kart-like handling, making deliveries could be fun

Mini has this habit of turning what first seemed like crazy concepts into full-fledged production cars. For example, the Roadster might have appeared as a piece of pleasant car-show whimsy considering there was already a convertible version of the regular Cooper. But now it has a spring 2012 launch date.

So let's not be too quick to dismiss Mini's newest concept, unveiled at the 2012 Geneva motor show. Even though it's a van.

The Clubvan, based on the Clubman, is "the first transportation vehicle based on a premium small car," according to Mini. But it's not without precedent.

Back in the 1960s, when The Beatles had just appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, there was a longer, metal-sided version of the "classic" Mini. It might have taken the boys' guitars or Ringo's drum kit, but not the whole lot.

Like that old model, this one just has two seats up front and a cargo area behind. And like the Clubman, there's a side door for another loading option to go with the double doors at the rear. Instead of metal panels, though, the Clubvan's are polycarbonate, while the rear doors' windows have a heavy tint so prying eyes can't see what's aboard. For extra practicality, there are two 12-volt sockets in the back.

Mini neglects to mention how much cargo space the Clubvan actually has, but a passenger-carrying Clubman's rear seats can fold down to make 32.8 cubic feet. That could be useful to some companies - like a pizza place, perhaps. If the Clubvan had the same excellent driving dynamics as the rest of the range (as well as 27 mpg in the city), then people who earn a crust by delivering crusts would have a fun time at work.

See more Geneva Auto Show articles.

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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