2014 Mini Paceman
By Paul A. Eisenstein
On Sale: Second Quarter 2013
Expected Pricing: Starting around $23,000
Yet another Mini goes on sale next year. The Mini Paceman, thought to be a 2014 model, is sort of a coupe version of the big Mini Countryman. Sort of a little big man.
Product proliferation is a term you hear a lot of on the business side of the auto industry these days. For car buyers that translates into a flood of more and more new models every year. Having more choices is better for consumers, though it can make choosing among them more stressful. Nowhere is product proliferation more apparent than at Mini. Since its U.S. launch, barely a decade ago, the British maker has introduced all manner of coupes, hatchbacks, convertibles and even crossovers, in the case of the Countryman.
The Mini Countryman delivered a number of firsts for Mini: its first four-door, its first use of all-wheel drive, and the biggest product ever to wear the Mini badge. So it should be no surprise Mini has come up with a spin-off sharing the Countryman platform.
The long-anticipated Paceman was revealed at the 2012 Paris Motor Show and will soon become the seventh distinct model in the Mini line-up.
The overall look of the three-door Paceman won't come as a surprise to those familiar with Mini and, in particular, the Countryman. From the windshield forward, in fact, the two are essentially identical, down to the headlight layout and hexagonal grille.
But Paceman is more than just a coupe version of the Countryman. The doors are stretched, of course, but the helmet-like roof now has a downward slope that is reminiscent of the smaller Mini Coupe. A new chrome beltline, meanwhile, rises up as if to meet the roof.
Perhaps the most distinctive design feature is the use of horizontal taillights for the first time by the brand. They frame the Mini brand name which boldly goes where no Mini badge has gone: in the center of the hatch.
The Paceman interior is borrowed from the Countryman, starting with the massive mid-dash speedometer and gauge cluster. Also borrowed from the Countryman crossover: the distinctively flexible Mini Center Rail storage system that can be adapted to a variety of needs with different holders and bins. The back seats can recline on the new Paceman. But the sporty new model, appropriately, gets new sport seats. And, in a clear nod to American expectations, Mini has moved the window switches onto the doors, rather than locating them at the base of the center stack.
As one might expect, Mini will offer a vast array of customizable features, including the traditional selection of roof decals.
The Paceman powertrain will come standard with front-wheel drive, but Mini's All4 all-wheel-drive will be available on all variants, including Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper D and Cooper SD Paceman. The base Mini Cooper Paceman package will feature a 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 122 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, the Cooper S bolting on a turbocharger that bumps the numbers to 184 hp and 177 lb-ft. That's enough to slash 0 to 60 times from 10.4 seconds to 7.5, according to Mini numbers. All versions will offer a 6-speed stick that can be substituted for the stock 6-speed automatic.
It remains to be seen if the Cooper D and SD diesel versions will make a U.S. appearance, though that's not in the plans for now. But Mini did confirm that a John Cooper Works Paceman, essentially the same powertrain package as in the similarly named Countryman, will follow, turning out 218 hp and 221 lb-ft.
Mini promises a go kart feeling and the new three-door will feature a lowered sports suspension, though a standard ride height can be ordered as a no-cost option. The front suspension is a MacPherson Strut layout with a multi-link rear design.
For those looking at the functional side, the Paceman will seat four adults and boasts a cargo capacity of 11.5 cubic feet, which increases to 38.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
These specs are for the European market and won't be finalized for the American market until closer to launch in the second quarter of 2013.