First Drive: MINI Paceman
Sector: Coupe Price (May 2013): £18,970 – £25,530 Fuel: 39.2 – 64.2mpg CO2: 115 – 168g/km
MINI’s brand heritage has been a backbone of its global sales success, but it’s also a bit of a double-edged sword, firmly dictating a strong family resemblance across its models and forcing imaginative niches rather than complete departures from the norm. But MINI does this really rather well.
The Paceman is the seventh car model in the range, and shares its mechanical parts and front-end bodywork with the Countryman. But it’s more than just a three-door version, with heavily raked roofline, flared rear wheel arches and wrap-around rear lights – a first for MINI – giving a much more muscular, sports-coupe presence than its practicality-focused sibling. The two look like very different cars.
All models get sports suspension with the option to downgrade to standard springs if preferred, and there’s no five-seat version. There’s a small loss of rear headroom caused by the new roofline, and the entry-level One is absent from the model range. The bulk of sales will be split almost equally between the two diesel Cooper trims, with a greater take-up of four-wheel drive than in its sibling and a £910 premium for the coupe’s styling.
To be expected, the Paceman drives similarly to the Countryman. It’s slightly softer, more top-heavy and a little less agile than the hatchback, but still one of the sharpest-driving models in the C-segment. Ride quality on the sports suspension isn’t uncomfortable, either, and most are expected to stick with it as a result.
MINI expects this to account for up to a third of sales on this chassis, and 50% will sell to fleets – slightly less than the growing 60% share of the Countryman. It’s another niche, but the Paceman fills it well.