The MINI feels very much at home just about anywhere on the planet. And soon the world will also be the oyster of MINI drivers and their entourages. 12 days on from the “official” start of spring, MINI can announce its arrival among the ranks of camping outfitters.
A sumptuously appointed caravan with two sleeping bays and a roof-top tent (also designed for two) in the classic John Cooper Works colour scheme will whet the appetite for do-it-yourself summer holidays peppered with spur-of-the-moment detours along the way. The British premium car maker is very literally inviting us all to dream, while reinforcing its status as a universal supplier of stylish mobility solutions. Its aim is clear: following the unveiling of the MINI Clubvan Concept – the first MINI for everyday business use – at the Geneva Motor Show in early March 2012, come 1 April it will be time to offer customers a very MINI holiday experience as well.
As style-conscious globetrotters have long recognised, the MINI gets a warm welcome wherever it goes. And the MINI Countryman reaches those parts even its siblings hesitate to venture. Having found that perfect spot, however, what we’ve been lacking has been a suitably MINI, suitably impromptu way of bedding down for the night. Enter the “Cowley” caravan, offering everything you need to pitch camp in comfort: two welcoming sleeping berths, a twin-burner gas-stove, a water tank with pump and dish-washing facility, a solar module to charge the on-board battery and a 230-volt power connection to supply the refrigerator, TV/DVD and hi-fi stereo system.
“Maximum touring pleasure on a minimal footprint” is the formula for this exclusive pied-à-terre on wheels, very much in the spirit of the creative use of space for which MINI is renowned. The silhouette of the Cowley brings to mind the sweeping circular curves of the door trim inside a MINI. Plus, both side doors have sliding windows, as was the way of things in the Classic Mini up to 1969. The eye-catching trailer is only 12 centimetres (under five inches) wider than a MINI Clubman mirror to mirror and weighs just under 300 kilograms (661 lb). Indeed, with its outstanding agility and fleetness of foot, there’s no danger of the hallmark MINI driving fun being left behind over long journeys.
For cars like the John Cooper Works top sports models where a trailer coupling is not an option, the “Swindon” roof-top tent provides a neat solution. The tent can be fitted easily to the roof of a MINI, MINI Clubman or MINI Countryman, and likewise offers sleeping space for two people. All of which makes those stressful last-minute searches for accommodation “so last holiday”. Having found a fittingly dreamy place to catch a stylish night’s shut-eye, it’s just a case of climbing up onto the roof of the MINI, lifting up the upper half of the roof-top tent box and plumping your pillows ready for impact. The roof-top tent works a treat, whether the location for your beauty sleep is the English shires or the foothills of Kilimanjaro. Indeed, should you have chosen one of nature’s livelier spots to spend the night, the elevated sleeping position will keep passers-by from the animal world at arm’s length.
The design of the roof-top tent box allows it to blend in seamlessly with the MINI when closed. Its lower shell is painted Midnight Black, the upper opening section in Chili Red – a combination previously the preserve of John Cooper Works models.
This is not the first time that MINI has come up with an eyebrow-raising take on overnight accommodation. During the 2006 football World Cup in Germany, MINI “fan hotels” laid on a whole new dimension in hospitality. MINI cars were converted into comfortable destinations of slumber for followers of the Italian, French and Brazilian national teams – and painted in the respective national colours. Neutral fans, meanwhile, could find refuge in the MINI Hotel International.
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