New Mini sets pace
All eyes for the sporty look
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