MINI is a brand that under the watchful eye of parent company BMW has evolved into something far beyond what its original creator Alec Issigonis probably could ever have imagined. The first ‘new’ MINI was a great success and set the brand up nicely to expand and, over time, develop just like its customers. Along came the bigger Clubman and then we had the Countryman which kept the MINI brand’s iron in the roaring crossover fire.
The latest weapon in MINI’s armoury is the Paceman, although what the true purpose of this weapon remains slightly unclear. Simply put it is a coupé version of the Countryman and although it may lack some of the practicalities, objectively at least I think it is an impressive car. The car is tall although it never feels crossover nor SUV tall, thanks in part to its sloping roofline which helps to diminish the overall bulk of the car.
You may wonder just where the Paceman fits into the market and understandably so. The 2-door crossover coupe market is a fairly niche segment and the MINI places limitations on itself by offering a strict 2 + 2 seating arrangement. Rear passenger headroom isn’t overly tight, but parents will find using child seats in the rear a bit awkward. Up front there is quite a bit of room while the taller ride height delivers a good view of the road and although visibility through the rear window is slightly limited, the generously-sized door mirrors do make up for this.
“fit and finish of the interior and switchgear is top notch…”
Those already experienced with other models in the MINI range will find the interior a familiar environment, dominated by the trademark large centrally-mounted speedo which neatly features the car’s crystal clear colour display in its centre. As one would expect from a vehicle at this price, fit and finish of the interior and switchgear is top notch, while the ambient light package which comes as part of the optional CHILI Pack adds a further degree of coolness to the overall package.
“objectively the Paceman is a stunning car”
With 143hp, power from the 2.0-litre diesel engine in this example is sufficient although some power is lost through the car’s permanent all-wheel drive system. And even with a healthy 305Nm of torque the Paceman still takes a surprisingly long 9.3 seconds to complete a 0-100km/h dash. In terms of ride the Paceman in Cooper SD trim is firm when you consider its tenuous crossover links. The supportive seats do help soften things slightly and to be fair to it once on the motorway it changes to become a rapid and capable cruiser. A long sixth gear helps to improve overall fuel economy while still leaving enough grunt for overtakes when needed.
The Paceman is, and probably always will be, a very niche model. By its very nature it places many practical limitations on itself. But leaving that aside and after spending a week with it I’m in no doubt that objectively the Paceman is a stunning car. It’s a piece of design that many will at a glance sneer at, but be in no doubt that once you spend any considerable amount of time with it, your opinion will change and you will see past the practical shortcomings.
Price: €45,268 (as tested)
Power: 143hp @4,000rpm
Torque: 305Nm @1,750-2,700rpm
Follow @LordHumphreys on Twitter