The Paceman, which was only a motor show concept at Detroit in 2010, hits Australian showrooms early next year. It follows the Countryman, Clubman van, and a long string of other teases including the Mini Coupe and Roadster from the spotlights to the stop lights.
The production Paceman is based on the biggest of the existing Mini models, the all-wheel drive Countryman, and is likely to be the last addition to the Mini lineup before BMW Group - which owns the iconic British brand - gives it a total renewal.
The production Paceman continues almost unchanged from the styling of the concept car, with the emphasis on performance including a Cooper S model that will sprint to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds. “It's the seventh body shape in the mini range,” the spokesman for Mini in Australia, Piers Scott, confirms to Carsguide.
“It's March next year for Australia. We're pretty solid on that. The cars are being built in Austria in November.” He will not discuss prices or equipment but confirms the Paceman's position at the top of the local lineup, and a likely price tag of more than $55,000.
“It will sit above the countryman. It's the flagship,” says Scott. “It will have a small premium over the Countryman.” The body of the Paceman is a three-door hatch but it is much bigger than the basic Mini that opens the action, and its interior is focussed on a luxury four-seater cabin that provides individual chairs for two people in the back. These include armrests for back-seat passengers, extra leg and knee room, and a central storage system.
Mini confirms a sporty focus for the Paceman chassis, but also reveals a luggage capacity of up to 1080 litres. “It's the largest platform and the sportiest iteration of what the Mini brand currently offers. This is the furtherest extrapolation of the Countryman,” says Scott. The large central speedometer continues as a Mini signature, although it could be the last model with this emphasis as the upcoming replacement for the Mini Cooper is believed to have a more-conventional dashboard design.
European sources point to a preview of the car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in almost exactly a year's time. “Yes, there is a replacement for the Mini hatch to come. That will, no doubt, bring new design elements,” confirms Scott. “There are certain elements that every Mini must have, so I wouldn't expect anything too radical for the new hatch. We should get a look at it next year. I believe it will be later in the year.”