Paceman gets all the action
Mini’s new creation finds its niche, writes Bill Buys
BLEND a coupe with a hot hatch and a sports activity vehicle and you have the Paceman, latest in Mini’s ever-growing range of niche entrants.
The Paceman is built on the same platform as the more p r a c t i c a l Countryman, but has a distinctive wedge-like shape and runs on sports suspension. It also lays claim t o being the world’s first SAC, or sports activity vehicle.
Pacemen come in two models, the Cooper and more powerful Cooper S, both running a BMW-built 1.6-litre four-cylinder motor linked to a six-speed manual gearbox.
A six-speed auto with paddle-shift is an option.
The Cooper has a 90kW/ 160Nm output compared to the 135/240 of the turbocharged S, which also has an overboost button that frees up an extra 20Nm of torque.
The bulldog-stanced car can get to 100km/h in 10.4 seconds with the 90kW engine while the S is three seconds quicker, but at 7.5litres/100km, it’s a trifle thirstier.
The non-turbo model averages 6.5litres/100km.
Parked in the premium compact nook of the market, the Cooper is $35,900 with the standard manual gearbox and the Cooper S is from $44,100. Mini expects most urbanites to opt for the auto shifter, which adds $2350. There’s an extensive options list, from a glass roof and auto climate control to sat nav, a 10-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system and park distance control, plus a variety of alloy wheels.
Like others in the now seven-model range, the Paceman gets the dinnerplate-sized central speedo with a rev counter in front of the driver, ambient lighting via switches above the windscreen and the full suite of electronica such as traction and stability control, hill start, brake assist and ABS. There’s also an optional electronic diff lock that works when the stability control is switched off.
We spent time in a Cooper S manual and a Cooper automatic in the twisty terrain of Queensland’s D’Aguilar range and on the freeways near Brisbane. The S is a potent beast, though the standard Cooper is hardly a slouch. Both have a razor-sharp electropower steering, serious stopping power and provide a ride that’s great for zipping along smooth roads, but fidgety on corrugations. The engine of Cooper auto, super-quiet at low speeds, howls at higher revs, whereas the twintailpiped turbo S provides better music.
Neither sports coupe nor SUV, the Paceman is a fun package that separates the individual from the sheep.
Sporty ride: The Mini Paceman provides for a fun outing.