2013 Mini Paceman review
The two cars share the same bluff-fronted nose, but the Paceman is 4cm lower and its roof and tailgate are noticeably more raked, giving it a look reminiscent of the three-door Range Rover Evoque.
Four engines will be offered: 121bhp Cooper and 181bhp Cooper S petrols, and 110bhp Cooper D and 141bhp Cooper SD diesels.
The S petrol and diesels are available with front- and four-wheel drive, whereas the entry-level petrol is front-wheel-drive only.
Mechanically, the Paceman is almost identical to a Countryman on sports suspension, albeit slightly lower. The standard Countryman suspension set-up will be offered as a no-cost option.
What’s the 2013 Mini Paceman like to drive?
We’ve tried a front-wheel-drive version of the Cooper S on the standard sports suspension, plus a four-wheel-drive (All4) Cooper SD diesel with the optional Comfort set-up.
The Cooper S’s 1.6-litre turbo engine feels a bit flat below 1500rpm, but delivers brisk acceleration beyond that. Unfortunately, there's some engine resonance in the cabin at motorway cruising speeds and plenty of wind- and road noise, too.
However, the range-topping petrol is nothing like as noisy as the Cooper SD. The 2.0-litre diesel engine produces a gruff diesel dirge at low speeds, which escalates into a full-on racket when you accelerate hard.
True, there’s plenty of pull from low revs, but the power delivery is boosty and uneven.
Come to a corner and the Paceman turns in quickly and without much roll considering its elevated SUV-like stance. However, the steering doesn't offer a lot of feedback and is too quick, so it can be difficult to place the car exactly where you want it at speed.
More positively, the Paceman rides noticeably better than the Countryman – even on standard sports suspension. True, it’s a bit fidgety over pockmarked roads, but it rarely crashes or thumps over bumps.
What’s the 2013 Mini Paceman like inside?
The Paceman's interior is virtually identical to the Countryman’s up front, which means you get a retro dashboard that takes some time to learn because it puts style before ease of use.
You sit higher than you do in a Mini hatch and get a wide range of adjustment, but the seats aren't particularly supportive and the controls for adjusting the angle of the backrest are rather hard to reach.
Move to the back and you'll find a pair of individual bucket seats with Mini's aluminium accessory rail threading between them.
Getting into the rear is much easier than it is in the Mini hatch because there's a large gap to climb through. However, the front seats don't return to their original position after being slid out of the way, forcing you to reset your driving position.
Rear seat space is quite tight for six-footers, and the seatbacks lie at a steep angle when you fold them forward to extend the modest boot.
While the cabin feels solidly constructed, there's too much hard plastic compared with a VW Scirocco, let alone premium hatchbacks such as the Audi A3.
Should I buy one?
Mini is marketing the Paceman to buyers who want the style and sportiness of the standard Mini hatch, but need more rear space.
The trouble is, it's neither as good to drive nor as refined as the hatch, and it will cost £940 more than an equivalent Countryman despite its lower door count.
Unless you really like the looks, the similarly priced Audi A3 and VW Scirocco are better alternatives.
What Car? says...
Range Rover Evoque
Specification Cooper S
Engine size 1.6 turbo petrol
Price from £22,355
Torque 177lb ft
0-62mph 7.5 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 46.3mpg
Specification Cooper SD All4
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £24,290
Torque 225lb ft
0-62mph 9.2 seconds
Top speed 122mph
Fuel economy 57.6mpg
By Steve Huntingford and Will Nightingale
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