Mini's relentless push to retro-ify all our lives has brought about the seventh model in its range: the new 2012 Mini Clubvan.
Essentially a van-spec version of the curious Clubman small estate, it's aimed at small businesses and fans of outdoor hobbies with cumbersome, expensive equipment, says Mini. It's a production version of the concept seen at the 2012 Geneva motor show.
What's the inspiration behind the 2012 Mini Clubvan?
As with all Minis, there's a story behind why the company has brought the new vehicle to market.
The Clubvan is said to hark back to Morris Mini Van of the 1960s, though the new car/van is altogether more plush than its Sixties predeccessor. The frontal interior is standard Mini, with large central speedo and pastiche switches all present. Rearwards is where the changes are...
So what has Mini done to create the Clubvan?
Essentially, it's a Mini Clubman - the Clubvan even retains the UK-unfriendly 'Clubdoor' for extra side access, but otherwise the priotity has been to maximise load space. Gone are the rear seats, and instead behind the load bay/cabin partition (made from a comination of aluminium and steel mesh) we find a flat loadbay with six recessed loops to lash down cargo.
In contrast to any Mini that's gone before (with the possible exception of the Coupe) there's actually a fiarly respectable load area: the cargo area stretches back 115 cm and, at its narrowest point just behind the rear doors, is 102 cm wide. Cargo can be loaded right to the roof which measures 84cm at its highest point.
Overall, there's means 860 litres of space to be utilised, and a maximum payload capacity of 500 kg.
Protecting the contents from prying eyes are solid side panels in the place of the Clubman's windows, and tinted glass in the separate rear doors.
What about the Mini Clubvan's engines?
It's familair Mini, except without a Cooper S motor, deemed unnecessary for white van mini man. So, you can choose from petrol One or Cooper models (£11,175 and £12,475 respectively), or a black-pump-friendly Cooper D, which starts at £14,510.
Sounds like bargain Mini ownership? That's because, if classified for business use, buyers can claim back the VAT on their purchase, making the Clubvan perhaps a lot more appealing than the cutesy and expensive first impression it otherwise makes.
Of course, once you've accounted for the extensive Mini options list (with xenon headlights for those dead-of-night collections, or sat-nav to help with unfamiliar delivery areas) the bargain price may end up long forgotten.
Frugal, profit-centric business users should be satisfied with the Clubvan's frugality though: there's auto stop-start, brake energy regeneration and a gear-shift display to assist in squeezeing out a potential 72.4mpg and 103g/km. Every little helps...
When can I have my groceries delivered in a Mini Clubvan?
The Clubvan will be shown off for the first time at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, from 28 June to 1 July 2012. Perhaps it'll be in charge of catering. Sales are due to start soon after, so bakers, florists and mountaineers had better form an orderly queue.