Last year 240,000 vans were sold in the UK, but it’s fair to say none of them was quite as cool as the new MINI Clubvan.
Billed by the company as the world’s first premium compact delivery vehicle, the newcomer is designed to be a moving billboard that mixes a practical load space with an upmarket image and cabin. And just like the standard car, the Clubvan should be efficient, good to drive and solidly built.
However, the Ford Fiesta Van leads the way in this class of the commercials market, accounting for just over 60 per cent of sales. As with the MINI, it’s based on a stylish and sharp-handling supermini, so it should be equally attractive to commercial buyers and private owners seeking a quirky alternative to traditional estates.
The Ford also benefits from efficient ECOnetic running gear, meaning it should be cheap to run, while in Trend specification it has stacks of desirable kit as standard.
So, which one of our contenders delivers the better combination of space, value for money, economy and driver satisfaction?
A pair of vans based on two of the best small cars money can buy – we just had to try them out.
And the MINI and Fiesta impressed us from behind the wheel, as they retain all the attributes of these brilliant everyday cars. Both handle well and are great to drive, while road noise and refinement are only fractionally worse than you’d experience in the regular versions.
The Clubman-based Clubvan’s twin rear doors and lovable styling hark back to the original sixties Mini van. And it’s easy to see how sole traders and small companies will be lining up to get their logo on the side of this head-turning van, with the aim of cashing in a little on the fashionable MINI image.
By comparison, the Fiesta is the quiet hard worker that doesn’t get noticed. It isn’t as powerful as the MINI, but it’s cleaner, more economical and has a bigger load capacity. It’s also well equipped, great to drive and very comfortable.
Choosing a winner largely comes down to what the individual or company wants from its small van. If you want to make a statement, choose the MINI; but for just getting on with the job, the Fiesta takes some beating. The fact that the Ford is every bit as good to drive as the MINI is just a bonus, and helps to make it our winner.