Since its reinvention a decade ago, Mini has looked to expand upon its success with the Cooper hatchback. Since then we've seen the addition of the Cooper Convertible, long-wheelbase Clubman, Countryman crossover, and the two-seat Coupe and Roadster. Behold the seventh Mini: the 2013 Paceman.
What is it?
Anyone who is familiar with any of the cars in Mini's lineup will feel right at home in the Paceman. Based on the four-door Countryman, the new crossover loses two doors and gains a sloping, sporty roofline. Mini calls it a "Sports Activity Coupe," but it is little more than a two-door Countryman. In fact, the Paceman rides on the same 102.2-inch wheelbase, has the same 161.8-inch length, and is the same width as the Countryman at 70.4 inches. The only dimension in which the two Minis differ is height: at 59.8 inches, the Paceman is 1.7 inches shorter than its four-door sibling. Inside, the Paceman's cargo-carrying capacity is slightly reduced by the sloping roofline. With the rear seats up, there is just 11.7 cu ft of space (versus the Countryman's 12.4); with the second row folded, the Paceman can hold 38.1 cu ft of stuff (versus the Countryman's 41.3).
Right now, there is only one other sporty two-door SUV on sale: the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Coupe. The Paceman is smaller than the upmarket Evoque, but not by much as the Mini name suggests -- the Paceman is 10.1 inches shorter in length, 7.0 inches skinner, 3.4 inches shorter in height, and rides on a 2.6-inch shorter wheelbase.
A squashed Countryman
The 2013 Mini Paceman looks exactly as you would expect -- like a Countryman with two less doors and a squashed roof. From the A-pillar forward, the two crossovers look almost identical with oversized headlamps, gaping hexagonal grille (ringed in chrome on the Paceman), and angled turn signal repeater on the front fenders. In profile, the Paceman is dominated by its long doors and its bulging wheel arches. A chrome-trimmed beltline rises in opposition to the sloping roof (which is available in black, white, or body color and terminates in a standard rear spoiler) to create an aggressive wedge-shaped stance. Around back, the Paceman features two firsts for the Mini brand: horizontal taillights and a rear nameplate. The new taillights use a concentric design for the turn signals, brake lights, and running lights, with reverse lights tucked into the inner corners of the clusters. A prominent Mini badge is mounted in the center of the hatch, with the Paceman name below it; model designation (Cooper, Cooper S, etc.) hovers to the right of the badge, next to the taillight.
The cabin will be instantly familiar to anyone who has been in a current-generation Mini. The Death-Star-sized speedometer makes an appearance here, as does the raft of toggle switches and Mini-badge-shaped cutesy climate controls. There are two ergonomic upgrades in the Paceman, however: the more-comfortable sport seats are standard and it is the first Mini to have its window switches integrated into the door panel, rather than on the center stack. Like the Countryman, the Paceman comes standard with the brand's center rail storage system, but the smaller crossover is a four-seat affair only.
Like any other Mini, there is a raft of interior and exterior colors available, including three new exterior hues: Brilliant Copper, Blazing Red, and the Paceman-exclusive Starlight Blue pictured here. For buyers who can't find a combination to suit their needs, Mini also offers the Mini Yours customization program that allows complete color personalization from tip to tail.
Not surprisingly, powertrain options carry over from elsewhere in the Mini lineup. At launch, European customers will have four flavors to choose from: Cooper Paceman, Cooper S Paceman, Cooper D Paceman, and Cooper SD Paceman. Front-wheel drive is standard, while All4 all-wheel drive is option for all models, save the base Cooper. All Pacemen use six-speed transmissions -- a manual is standard, an automatic is optional.
Following a clearly established formula, the Cooper Paceman will utilize a 1.6-liter I-4 rated at 122 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque; it's good for a 0-62 mpg time of 10.4 seconds, a top speed of 119 mph, and up to 47.1 mpg on the European cycle. Stepping up to the Cooper S Paceman adds a turbocharger onto the four-cylinder and increase power and performance: 184 hp, 177 lb-ft, 0-62 mpg in 7.5 seconds, 135 mpg top speed, and 39.8 mpg (EU). Expect to see both of these powertrains make the trip across the Atlantic when the Paceman goes on sale in the U.S. next year. We won't receive the diesel powertrains.
Mini also announced that a hotter John Cooper Works Paceman is in the pipeline. Expect to see the same 218-hp, 221-lb-ft turbo-four from the JCW Countryman to make an appearance here.
Full specifications and pricing for the U.S.-spec 2013 Paceman have yet to be finalized, but expect to see it rolling into dealerships in the second quarter of 2013.