Mini has been setting the bar incredibly high when it comes to super minis, ever since the original new Mini made its debut nearly 15 years ago. With more rivals than ever trying to muscle in on its territory, the newer models have had their work cut out in maintaining Mini’s brilliant run, both in terms of critical acclaim and sales.
The Mini Cooper S Paceman was the seventh bodystyle out of the garage for the new generation Mini line-up, and Mini was quick to claim on its release that it was way more than merely a Mini Countryman (the first ever four-door Mini) with two doors. Indeed, Mini’s Head of Brand Management, Kay Segler, stated that:
We didn’t call it the ‘Countryman Coupe’ as this is a character on its own. This is a Paceman.
Taking a closer look
But what is the Mini Cooper S Paceman really like? Is it really distinct enough from its Mini relatives to be worth the money? Even a cursory look at a list of Mini reviews and awards shows just how good the Mini Cooper S is. So we decided to take a closer look and see if it really matches the hype.
First of all there’s that comparison with the Countryman. Is it really just the same car? Well, despite the fact that it has the same front-end styling as the Countryman, from the back it’s very different. The rising waist, tapering roofline and horizontal tail-lights, which are wrapped by sculpted wheelarches, reveal a car that is unique.
Despite the fact that the Paceman has a sporty shape, the interior is actually pretty roomy – even a six foot plus passenger can fit into a seat with some space to spare. The boot also has up to 1,080 litres of space, which isn’t far off the Countryman’s 1,190 litres. A slight problem is the fact that you can’t get a Paceman with any more than two individual rear seats, but let’s face it, this was never going to be a family car.
When you’re driving, the Paceman will feel familiar to anyone who’s driven one of the new Minis before. The large central speedo and chrome details make it both stylish and iconic. Due to the sports suspension, the Paceman sits pretty low, but the raised seating ensures you have a clear view of the road.
Packing a punch
The powerful 181bhp 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, used across the whole Mini family, is fantastic and packs a real grunt for such a small car. The six-speed manual box gives a near instant throttle response, even though it can be a little clunky. Even though it’s not as sharp as the hatchback, it’s certainly a lot more fun than the Countryman.
Responsive steering and strong brakes are guaranteed, while the longer wheelbase adds up to a smooth ride. It’s even as efficient as the Cooper S Countryman, with 46.3mpg and 143g/km. All in all, this is a quality super mini which is a complete joy to drive.
So yes we may have slagged off the new Mini for being a bit over inflated and ugly, but the Paceman looks set to be a winner either way!
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter