First Look: 2013 Mini Paceman

By Jacob Brown | September 13, 2012
You've seen seen the 2013 Mini Paceman before—many times, in fact—as a "Will they or won't they?" concept vehicle. But this is your first glimpse at it as a full-on production vehicle. It comes from a brand that has survived and thrived for two reasons alone: It's cheeky, retro self-awareness, and the fact that it offers fun-to-drive cars that don't require a second mortgage on your home. The 2013 Mini Paceman should continue on both of those fronts. But it's also taking in more of parent company BMW's philosophy of amortizing every little platform variation and creating niches for vehicles where none have existed before. Case-in-point: The Paceman is being heralded as BMW's second "sports activity coupe," a real stretch of a term for the five-door BMW X6 that preceded it, but not so much for the Mini. After all, this vehicle actually has just three doors, seating for four, and, by all indications, it should actually be sportier than the Mini Countryman on which it's based. What's New Going by what's under the sheetmetal, not a whole lot. Power should come from two very familiar engines options: a standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 122 horsepower, or a 184-horsepower, turbocharged version of the same powerplant in the Mini Paceman S. Both are available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, same as what's available in the Mini Countryman. Front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive comes as an option.
But, as in all other coupes, the focus is on the aesthetic. The Mini Paceman sits lower than the Countryman with a new sloping roof that tapers into a wedge shape, punctuating the rear with new round-shaped tail light. It borrows a helmet-like roof design from the Mini Cooper Coupe and reshapes the interior. Controls like the window switches are now found on the doors instead of the center console. A matte-finish ring surrounds the centrally mounted speedometer. And rather than being a four-seater—five in a pinch—like the Countryman, the Paceman is meant to carry strictly four people. All four seats are buckets with lateral supprt bolsters. The rear seats are modeled after the front ones. Like what is optional in the Countryman, a center rail storage system is available to mitigate cargo, bisecting the interior. Engines and Drivetrains As mentioned earlier, all engines are carryover, albeit in a smaller, marginally lighter body. The base engine for the 2013 Mini Paceman will be the 122-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder shared in all other Mini Cooper models. In the Paceman, it's rated at 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway with the manual transmission or 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the automatic and front-wheel drive. In the front-drive Countryman S with 181 horsepower, it's rated at 26/32 and 25/32, respectively. All-wheel drive in the Countryman S drops that to 25/31 and 23/30, respectively. Mini also says a John Cooper Works version is on its way, likely to have 208 horsepower from its 1.6-liter engine. It's rated at 25/31 with the manual transmission and 23/30 with the automatic. Our Thoughts No, it's not really all that different from any other Mini Countryman. But it's enough to keep customers coming back. Just over 40 miles from where Mini is based in the U.K., Land Rover execs are surely overwhelmed by the success their Range Rover Evoque has seen, bringing back the once-popular sport utility coupe design. Certainly, BMW's people want in on that action, too. Smaller, more expensive, and less practical than most of its direct competitors, the Mini Paceman should still do well in catering to diehards, housewives, and those who wanted a Mini who live in snowbelt regions. It deviates a bit from the Mini formula, still large and without quite as much purpose as other cars in the brand's lineup. But Mini has always been about panache, style, and letting everyone know you're a little more fun than everyone else. The 2013 Mini Paceman should have all these boxes checked. Source: Mini