Where do you start with writing a road test of the MINI Paceman?
I would love that to be a rhetorical question, a device to lure you, good reader, into this review. The only problem is that I don’t really know the answer.
In my defence, Mini doesn’t help me. As another spin-off from the ever popular Mini brand, the Paceman takes the largest model – the Countryman – and makes it a little more sporty.
It’s a strange concept, to have a coupe/off-roader, crossover, a MINI SUV and I must confess, that I rather like them.
BMW’s X6 is an excellent car, as is Nissan’s Juke, but they both make me feel slightly ashamed in my praise of them as it is rather a stupid idea to mix those two types of car.
Despite the lack of logic in making a cross-coupe, the Mini Paceman should sell well as it’s a pretty good car.
Putting all prejudices aside, walking up to the Paceman is a fairly pleasant experience as it’s a decent piece of design. Taking plenty of Mini styling cues from all of its various other cross-overs, Mini has smoothed them all over to create a far more stylish Countryman or a scaled up Roadster, depending on your point of view.
The interior is the same affair although this is where the biggest differences between Countryman and Paceman occur. The front seats are fairly comfortable but could be a little more supportive in terms of lateral pressure. The rear seats though consist of just two as there is no bench seat in the back. Instead, there is a central console into which you can add cupholders and other accessories.
There isn’t much space in the rear either but that is down to the exterior styling in the most part. The tapering roofline and pinched in rear windows shrink the rear passenger and boot space more than the Countryman.
It’s a well-built interior but, in line with most Mini’s, the quality of plastics used could be better considering the cost involved in buying one. You get family car quality for premium prices.
The main point in buying a Mini, other than the styling considerations, is how it drives and the Paceman, being part family 4×4 and part coupe, could have been a difficult car to engineer.
The Paceman handles very well all things considered – just not particularly Mini-ish. For those who want every Mini to handle like the original one and feel like a go-kart, the Paceman is not the car for you. However, many don’t want a car that will head around bends with the same sense of pin-sharp precision as a racing car.
The Paceman will head into a corner crisply until the weight and height catches up with it when it needs to settle into the bend. Once settled, the Mini corners well and is communicative, letting you know how far you can push it.
The benefit of the Paceman being tall with long suspension travel is that it is comfortable when cruising along, and it doesn’t matter where you are. Whether travelling along the motorway, a country road or in town, the suspension is nicely supple but stiff enough to be hustled along when you want to.
The model I tested certainly has a bit of get up and go. The Cooper S version has a 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engine that will get from 0-62mph in a respectable 7.8 seconds and on to 132mph thanks to the 184hp on offer.
The 177 lb ft of torque is a key figure too as the engine pulls well and you can effortlessly accelerate in all gears. You can also get more than 40mpg fairly easily and all of those figures compare well to the Nissan Juke – which is where the Paceman’s case begins to fall apart a little.
The Nissan’s power, speed and fuel economy are all very similar to the Mini’s, as is the build quality and space available inside. They even handle very similarly and the comparison really comes down to two main differences. If you set store in styling, the Mini wins hands down over the Juke but the problem is the cost. The Mini Paceman Cooper S costs £22,360 while the Juke DIG-T – a comparable model both in terms of specification and performance – costs just £17,795. That’s a huge difference in price for a very similar car.
The good news for Mini is that there are plenty of people out there who simply won’t care and pick the Paceman instead.
Read More MINI News and Reviews at Drive.co.uk/MINI
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