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Mini’s pacey sports coupé - The Mini Cooper Paceman

09.07.2015

I REMEMBER the first time I saw the ‘big Mini’ - the slightly oxymoronic Countryman, a Mini on a steady diet of growth hormones, riding on a set of stilts; it has always seemed rather odd. The Paceman, which is a three-door coupé-ish variant of the Countryman, for me at least, makes more sense as the oddball nature is more in line with the brand’s unique selling proposition.

What’s new outside?

The Paceman has been with us for some time now and recently received very minor updates, which warranted some examination. If you’re squinting to see the exterior differences don’t worry, even a current owner would struggle to notice the new radiator grille and the revisions made to the lights.

The car strikes quite a silhouette with a coupé roofline and the chunkiness associated with an SUV - very Range Rover Evoque-esque. At the rear we see the first Mini model to receive horizontal and not vertical taillights, which at least help dwarf that gargantuan Mini badge on the boot.

What’s new inside?

Inside, the updates are also mild but have been implemented to make the car appear sportier with anthracite gauges, chrome air vent surrounds and improved refinement. There is still that centre rail that separates the two rear seats and has a couple of clips attached to it with the option of clipping a drinks holder or a sun glasses case to the mobile rail.

Overall, if you’ve driven one of the latest F-generation Minis then this R-based (R61) car will feel slightly less premium with lesser quality materials and a slightly dated look. It does get the Mini Connected infotainment system though, which includes things like Bluetooth, smartphone integration with application compatibility and Internet connectivity, all of which can be operated by the centre-mounted joystick.

The drive

The Paceman is quite a comfortable car to cruise around in and in a very un-Mini-like fashion it provides decent space for the four occupants that it can accommodate. The Cooper S model that I drove also benefits from a power boost of 5kW for a total output of 140kW/240Nm (260Nm on overboost). The fuel consumption was a mixed bag, with me going as low as 6.6 litres/100km at one point to over 10.0 litres/100km for a combined average of 9.3 litres/100km, not exactly the 7.5 litres/100km claimed.

It’s no slouch with a 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds. The one thing that let my test model down was the gearbox; the six-speed Steptronic unit simply feels too old when you have dual-clutch units or single-clutch units as good as the ZF gearbox used throughout the BMW product portfolio.

Value proposition

When viewed against the likes of the Range Rover Evoque, the Paceman does seem like a bit of a bargain however, at over R500 000 for the model that I had on test with all of the options, it is certainly not cheap and will only appeal to a very small niche in the market.

Verdict

The Paceman is the best ‘big-Mini’ for the time being in my opinion. Having said that, the new five-door Cooper S auto is cheaper, more powerful and lighter. Yes it is smaller, but I feel it is spacious enough and is a far superior product in terms of quality, drivability and technology.

Article written by Sean Nurse
09.07.2015
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