Mini shows how to camp in styleSun, 21 Jul 2013 17:11:00 EST
If you're the type of person who loves spontaneous road trips and camping, and Volkswagen's Camper Vans aren't your style (or you can't find one for sale in the US), then Mini has what you're looking for: the Clubvan Camper, Cowley caravan or Countryman ALL4 Camp. Unfortunately, Mini says there are no plans to offer any of them for sale. And no, this doesn't seem to be a recycled April fools joke, in which Mini touted the Swindon Roof Top Tent and Cowley.
Let's start with the Clubvan camper, a curious prototype that has a sleeping area for one and an extendable kitchenette featuring a stove and chest fridge. And we say curious because, in addition to not being offered for sale anywhere at this point, the Camper is based on the Clubvan, which was just pulled from US dealerships due to low sales volume. This thing definitely isn't coming to the US.
The Cowley caravan, named after Mini's historic factory in England (known today as Plant Oxford), can be towed behind a Mini vehicle and features a sleeping area for two, a twin-burner gas stove and a water tank complete with pump and sink facility. It looks quite comfortable in there. The Cowley uses a solar panel to charge its onboard battery, and it has a 230-volt connection to power the fridge and entertainment equipment.
In this writer's opinion, the coolest thing here is the Countryman ALL4 Camper, which is a Countryman with a specialized tent mounted on top. The tent's upper portion unfolds from its box and becomes a second-story mobile living area whenever it's needed. And, a Countryman isn't needed to mount it to the top of a Mini; the tent can be mounted to any Mini model and wouldn't take much effort to produce and sell as an accessory at a dealership.
Be sure to check out the photo galleries to see some staged fun, Mini-style, and scroll down for the press release.
The Getaway Cars: MINI unveils three new overnight solutions for the weekend warrior.
The trio each reflect different aspects of the rise in popularity of camping and festivals, creating a choice of premium home-from-home options for the enthusiastic traveller.
- The MINI Clubvan Camper is the world's smallest luxury camper van, packed with practical solutions that make it ideal accommodation for an individual on a weekend away.
- The MINI Cowley is a compact yet comfortable caravan for two people, equipped with a twin-ring gas stove, fridge and sink.
- The MINI Countryman ALL4 Camp with its innovative roof-top tent is the getaway car for an adventurous couple, evoking images of African safari and expedition vehicles.
All three models have been styled with MINI's much-loved design cues to the fore. They display the character and fun personality which motorists have come to associate with MINI, and which have made the brand such a global success.
The cars have been developed around the 'maximum touring pleasure with minimal footprint' philosophy, and illustrate the principle of creative space utilisation for which MINI is renowned.
They have been created as concept vehicles to showcase the depth of the MINI range, as well as the creativity and skill within the company's design and engineering staff. There are no plans to offer them as production vehicles at this stage.
The MINI Clubvan Camper: good things come in small packages
The freedom of the open road, a dynamic driving experience and everything you need with you – the MINI Clubvan Camper has it all.
It's arguably the world's smallest luxury camper van, a MINI Clubvan which has been transformed into a versatile home on wheels. Behind the solid side windows there is a spacious sleeping berth for one person, plus a small, extendible kitchenette complete with propane stove and chest fridge.
On-board facilities includes the MINI Navigation Portable XL sat-nav, which will help drivers find their way to the most remote spots. If the weather is unkind a television can provide entertainment and chilly mornings can be made more comfortable thanks to an auxiliary heater.
A particular highlight is the Clubvan Camper's roof. The small glass panel can be opened for ventilation or star-gazing, while the storage rack above means owners can travel with equipment for outdoor pursuits.
Hygiene is always a key part of any weekend away and MINI's ingenious design engineers have even got that covered. The Camper's generous specification also includes an integrated hand-held shower, with a water tank housed underneath the load floor.
The MINI Cowley: a new style benchmark in compact towing
The pleasure that millions of caravanners around the world enjoy is the ability to stop and stay anyway in comfort and safety. Now it's possible to do that MINI-style with the Cowley caravan.
The compact tourer has been named after the historic factory – today known as Plant Oxford – which is home to much of the current MINI range. It was also where the classic BMC/Austin Mini was built and is this year celebrating a centenary of car manufacturing.
The Cowley caravan is a luxurious overnight solution and all the mod cons are fitted, including two comfortable sleeping berths, a twin-burner gas stove and a water tank complete with pump and sink facility. A solar module charges the on-board battery and there's a 230-volt connection to power the fridge, TV/DVD and audio equipment.
Styled with typical MINI flair, the teardrop-shaped trailer is a genuine head-turner. In silhouette it's reminiscent of the curved lines of the MINI panels, and the doors have sliding windows on both sides – a standard feature in the classic Mini up to 1969. The sumptuously trimmed veehicle is only 12 centimetres wider than a MINI Clubman including exterior mirrors and weighs just under 300 kg.
With exceptional manoeuvrability, the MINI Cowley ensures that the hallmark MINI driving fun can still be enjoyed while towing, irrespective of the distance travelled.
The MINI Countryman ALL4 Camp: safari-style accommodation for the adventurous spirit
Finding overnight accommodation can be a real headache, especially for drivers who have taken a spontaneous trip to a festival or beach. But there's no need to worry about finding the perfect place to bed down when travelling in this MINI. Even when completely off the beaten track, all the owner has to do is head upstairs.
The innovative roof-top tent is showcased above a MINI Countryman which, thanks to its intelligent all-wheel drive system ALL4, is well-suited to travelling over rough terrain. But this simple and practical sleeping solution can easily be mounted on a MINI or MINI Clubman. The upper half of the tent is simply folded out of its storage box. Plump up the pillows and two occupants are ready to relax, then wake up to a perfect view of the ocean, mountain or valley.
How about an early morning ride out to buy breakfast? It's easily done because a mountain bike can be easily transported on the specially fitted bicycle rack.
The roof-top tent quickly folds away into its box when it's not needed. The exterior has been painted in Absolute Black metallic with white stripes to match the car beneath.
By Damon Lowney
See also: Mini Clubvan axed after just 50 sales, 2014 Mini Cooper rockets into view, Top Gear caught filming Best of British near Buckingham Palace.