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First drive: Mini gets sporty with Paceman

Pick up the pace: The Paceman kicks off in Australia with two specifications, before the arrival of the hot John Cooper Works edition in May this year.

Countryman-based Paceman Coupe arrives as Mini continues to expand in Australia


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6 Mar 2013

MINI has added a seventh model to its burgeoning line-up in the form of the Countryman-based Paceman “Sports Activity Coupe”, but the brand is expecting modest sales – for now.

The local arm of the BMW-owned brand has predicted sales of 200 units for the Paceman in its first year of sales, which is significantly lower than the Mini hatch which sold 1475 units in 2012 and the Countryman that sold 516 units in the same period.

Now on sale around the country, the Paceman launches with two model choices – the Cooper Paceman and Cooper Paceman S – for $35,900 and $44,100 plus on-road costs respectively.

The Cooper Paceman S is the range-topping variant, at least until the arrival of the super-hot John Cooper Works edition that will add some spice to the range when it arrives in local showrooms in May.

Coming onto the Australian market at the same time as it goes on sale in its spiritual homeland, the United Kingdom, the Paceman brings Mini's local line-up to seven, including the hatch, coupe, cabriolet, Clubman, Countryman and Roadster.

While it is hard to pinpoint any direct competitors for the two-door crossover coupe, the vehicle that it will most likely compete with for sales is the Range Rover Evoque.

The entry-level two-door, two-wheel drive Evoque eD4 Pure retails for $51,495, meaning the Mini will undercut the Range Rover by around $7000.

Mini Australia product planning manager Sue McCarthy said while the company did not envisage any cannibalisation of sales from the current Mini hatch, it did expect buyers of the older R50 from 2002 to look at the Paceman as an option, as many of them believed that the second generation was not different enough to the first.

Both Paceman variants are front-wheel-drive only and miss out on Mini's ALL4 all-wheel drive system that will come standard on the JCW version, but Ms McCarthy said that it is not off the table completely.

“If there is a demand for all-wheel drive in the Paceman, we will bring that in but we don't see there being a demand up front for that ALL4 system on the Paceman,” she said.

Mini decided against a diesel powertrain for the Paceman and has instead gone for Mini's familiar 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 90kW and 160Nm for a leisurely 0-100 sprint time of 10.4 seconds.

The Paceman S uses the same engine with a twin scroll turbocharger and direct injection for a beefier 135kW of power and 240Nm to get to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds.

Both models come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, however a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is available on either variant for an extra $2350.

The 0-100km/h sprint lows by 0.9 seconds for the base Paceman and 0.3 seconds in the S.

An overboost function is available to provide an acceleration kick should the driver require it and a Sport button that is standard on the S and an option on the base model gives an extra boost by adjusting the engine's responses and the power assistance provided by the steering.

Fuel consumption in the Paceman is 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle while the Paceman S manages 6.6L/100km in manual guise and 7.5L/100km in the automatic.

In designing the Paceman, the BMW-owned British marque has created a sporty feel with the sloping roof-line and high shoulder-line highlighting the coupe's wedge-like shape.

The Paceman is 43mm lower than the Countryman on which it is based and the ground clearance has also been reduced by 14mm, although the coupe is 12mm longer than its SUV twin.

Adding to the sporting flavour is a spoiler that is standard on both variants, while the chunky rear wheel arches remind you that it is based on an SUV.

Design cues that hark back to Minis of the past include the black highlights on the lower part of the body.

The rear of the Paceman features a new horizontal tail-light design that Mini claims is a first for the car-maker while another first is the fact that the Paceman is the only vehicle in the Mini line-up that can be identified by a nameplate on the rear of the vehicle.

Mini claims it has created a “lounge-like atmosphere” in the cabin by designing the Paceman to be strictly a four-seater coupe.

The cabin of the Paceman features a unique centre rail in two sections that runs from the gearshift lever and continues on to the rear of the interior, separating the two rear seats, with Mini saying that this “makes it easier to climb over from one of the two seats to the other.” More than just a curious design feature, the centre rail is home to two drink holders as standard, but other storage devices and tablet holders can be added to the rail, for a cost.

Mini has increased the rear seat legroom by adding cut-outs to the back of the front seats.

Speaking of the front seats, Mini has included cloth sports seats as standard on both Paceman variants with the option of cloth/leather trim or two more leather options.

The Paceman only loses 20 litres of boot space to the Countryman, accommodating 330 litres with the seats up and 1080L when folded down.

Standard equipment on the Paceman includes leather sports steering wheel, power mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary point, 16-inch alloy wheels for the Paceman and 17-inch alloys for the Paceman S.

Customisation is a Mini hallmark and the Paceman continues this trend with a lengthy options list ranging from a $1990 electric glass roof to $490 heated front seats.

The Paceman has been crash tested by Euro NCAP and received the maximum five star rating.

Mini Paceman pricing*
Cooper Paceman$35,900
Cooper Paceman S$44,100
*Excludes on-road costs

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