Pace­man gets all the ac­tion

Mini’s new cre­ation finds its niche, writes Bill Buys

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - USED CARS -

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.

THE RANGE

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 WORK­INGS

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.

THE DOL­LARS

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.

KIT

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.

THE DRIVE

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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