- John Cooper Works trim available
- Steering response helps bring more of a “MINI” feel
- Available All-Wheel Drive
- Awkward design
- Limited rear passenger and cargo space
- Weight (especially with all-wheel drive) makes Paceman feel sluggish
The 2013 MINI Paceman is the classic ‘answer to a question no one asked’. Bigger and, in theory, more practical than the MINI Cooper but not as spacious or SUV-like as the Countryman, the new Paceman is about as niche as it gets. As the seventh of what will eventually become a ten-vehicle lineup, does the Paceman sound the horn of dreaded model bloat?
With the introduction of the Paceman, we can now report that MINI’s mission to offer something for every driver appears to be literal. The 2013 Paceman can be had in standard Cooper trim, with 121 horsepower generated by the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine; in Cooper S trim with 181 horsepower and optional ALL4 all-wheel drive; or in the turbocharged 208-horsepower John Cooper Works trim. After a year of display at auto shows the world over, there isn’t so much a buzz about the Paceman as much of a general questioning of why the Paceman is even necessary.
Maybe MINI knows something we don’t about fractional sub-sections of the car-buying public. Our experience in the 2013 Paceman in Cooper S trim was underwhelming, but compared to the Paceman Cooper’s 121 horsepower and approximately 3,000-lb curb weight it’s as sprightly as a classic Morris MINI in an Italian tunnel.
Passengers in the Paceman’s rear seats will have even more to complain about; ‘cramped’ might be too light a word. At least the view is nice from inside; the 2013 Paceman is a gangly car to look at. Starting with the scared-trout appearance of the headlight/grille combination up front (taken right off the Countryman) to the cartoonishly-large taillights, the whole aesthetic of the Paceman smacks of some odd automotive chimera.
To top it all off, the lack of MINI Cooper-style go-kart handling or actual usability found in the Countryman comes at a premium: across the line, the Paceman models are $1,200 more expensive than their Countryman counterparts, ranging from $23,900 for a base Paceman Cooper to $36,200 for the top-of-the-line John Cooper Works.
What others are saying:
Car and Driver minced no words regarding the Paceman’s power-to-weight issues: “…hardly kart-like. The Paceman is no sports car, and the engine doesn’t provide many thrills, either.” They also called the Paceman “…a niche variation on a niche model within a niche brand…”.
Nelson Ireson, writing for Motor Authority, liked the Paceman Cooper S ALL4 but found his issues with its cost: “Our biggest quibble with the Paceman is the same as with many other MINIs, and it isn’t about features, performance, or quality. It’s about price. At a base of $29,200, it’s shockingly easy to end up with a mid-$30,000 hatchback.”
MINI loyalists’ fears of brand dilution won’t be eased by Motor Trend’s declaration that the Paceman “…neuters some of what makes the Countryman a good car in the name of style”, but traditionalists aren’t who MINI is after with the Paceman. Maybe MINI really does know something the rest of us don’t.