New Mini sets pace

All eyes for the sporty look

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

THE great-look­ing Mini Pace­man is set to please.

Lit­tle more than a week since Mini gave a global green light to the cute Clubvan con­cept, it has also cleared the way for full-scale pro­duc­tion of the Pace­man.

The pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the Pace­man should be un­veiled at the Paris Mo­tor Show in Septem­ber and the first Aus­tralian de­liv­er­ies are likely in about April 2013.

Pric­ing is yet to be set, but since the Pace­man body sits over the me­chan­i­cal pack­age of the Coun­try­man, it’s likely to start at about $45,000.

Mini Aus­tralia spokesman Piers Scott says the Pace­man will arrive ‘‘ early next year’’.

‘‘ Pro­duc­tion is slightly de­layed,’’ he says. ‘‘ So it’s end of quar­ter one, start of quar­ter two, for us.’’ The Pace­man is the lat­est in a se­ries of mo­tor show teases in­tended to stretch the Mini brand. But it’s not the start of some­thing new on the size or me­chan­i­cal front, as orig­i­nally be­lieved. Just an­other stretch of the ex­ist­ing pack­age.

It’s the seventh in­di­vid­ual model in the present Mini fam­ily, al­though there is no chance of the Clubvan mak­ing it to Aus­tralia be­cause of the cost of ‘‘ Aus­tralian­is­ing’’ the cargo bar­rier set per­ma­nently into the space be­hind the rear seats. This has now emerged as the ‘‘ ho­molo­ga­tion’’ drama block­ing any lo­cal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, al­though deal­ers were also only pre­pared to com­mit to fewer than two dozen sales.

‘‘ We be­lieve we would only sell a very small num­ber here,’’ Scott says. ‘‘ It doesn’t war­rant the cost as­so­ci­ated with lo­cal ho­molo­ga­tion.’’

The Pace­man plan is much more ag­gres­sive for Aus­tralia be­cause of its sporty looks and, thanks to the Coun­try­man chas­sis, two adult-sized rear seats. Its up­scale po­si­tion means it is only likely to be sold in Aus­tralia with the Cooper S and John Cooper Works engine pack­ages, to­gether with sports chas­sis tun­ing.

‘‘ It’s based on the Coun­try­man, with the longer wheel­base, but with very sporty tun­ing,’’ Scott says.

‘‘ Yes, it will have a slight price pre­mium over an equiv­a­lent Coun­try­man.’’

Scott says Range Rover has proven, with its city-fo­cused Evoque, that there is a strong cus­tomer base for two- and four-door ver­sions of the same ba­sic body.

‘‘ In the case of Pace­man, there will be greater visual dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion from the Coun­try­man than is the case with the Land Rover mod­els. It’s wider and squat­ter.’’

So, who is a po­ten­tial Pace­man buyer?

‘‘ Where Mini cus­tomers in the past were con­strained by size, we’re now able to tick all the boxes for driv­ing and the abil­ity to put two peo­ple in the back or chuck a surf­board on the top. It meets the life­style needs. We’re tak­ing it into more sportier ter­ri­tory than the Coun­try­man,’’ Scott says.

And what about avail­able engine choices?

‘‘ There will cer­tainly be more than one engine, but the engine line-up is yet to be con­firmed. We see the main de­mand in the sportier mod­els, so in a Cooper S and JCW pack­age, if those are made avail­able.’’

Teasers: The Mini Pace­man con­cept car

un­veiled in Detroit last year

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