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Mini Paceman JCW 2014 Review

EXPERT RATING
7
It may be Mini by name but there's nothing mini by nature about the Mini any more. In fact, the latest version I've been driving comes with maxi performance and price.

It may be Mini by name but there's nothing mini by nature about the Mini any more. In fact, the latest version I've been driving comes with maxi performance and price. The DNA of the original tiny-tot Mini remains, but the wee darling of English motoring no longer represents motoring for the masses.

It's new master, Germany's BMW, has uplifted the Mini to a different niche market buyers who have opted out of mainstream motoring. The reincarnation of the Mini, mind you, has been far more successful than Volkswagen's mediocre attempts at resurrecting the Beetle. The latest in the line-up, and by far in my book the best Mini to date, is the John Cooper Works Paceman all-wheel drive tested here.

DESIGN

Today's Mini has grown, not only in size but also in the number of models. There's the Ray, Cooper S, Cooper D, Countryman, Paceman and, to richen the mix, there are race-heritage John Cooper Works versions of all. If that's not enough there's a choice of hatch, wagon, coupe and roadster body designs plus two-wheel or all-wheel drive and diesel and petrol motors.

Want more? Mini's dress-up box includes stripes, added colours and interesting interior finishes to provide a personalised touch.

PRICES / FEATURES

Prices start at $25,600 for the three-door Ray and stretch to $58,600. The JCW Paceman ALL4, to give it Mini's proper name, is the dearest in the line-up at $58,600 (six-speed manual) before on-road costs but our car had just over $4000 in extras including a $1495 navigation system, black leather interior ($1430) and upmarket radio ($975).

That put it into the mid $60,000 bracket. There's nothing mini there, not when you consider it doesn't come with a rear camera. But it does boast 18-inch black alloy wheels, sports seats, bi-xenon headlamps, aerodynamics body kit, 10-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system and push-button starting.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION

The 1.6l twin-scroll turbocharged engine is good for 160kW, peaking at 6000rpm and a healthy 280Nm of torque from 1900rpm to 5000rpm. With the overboost function, it lifts to 300Nm from 2100rpm to 4500rpm. That gives the Mini a long band of meaty torque to play with. The engine shows its race heritage with direct fuel injection, variable valve control, reinforced cylinder head and pistons, sodium filled exhaust valves and a lightweight crankshaft.

Set it on sport mode and the steering response stiffens, as does the suspension. There's even a throwback to the Mini of old with a wonderful burble and cackle from the exhaust on over-run. Mini claims a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 6.9 seconds and a fuel consumption of 8l/100km for the manual. We saw 7.5l/100km to 9l/100km for sensible driving. Spirited driving is a different matter.

DRIVING

No, it's not the quickest. That's reserved for the limited edition JCW GP, which has a race-tuned 160kW engine and race suspension and braking, but only 55 of the 2000 world production run have been allocated to Australia. You are better off with the Paceman version -- same engine, but it's a bit more refined and has the substantial all-wheel traction as a selling point.
No car is perfect, of course.

The Mini displays a degree of bump oversteer when running in sports mode, thanks to the firm-ish stick-to-the-road ride; the passenger side door mirror is partly hidden by the high window sill; the boot floor gets surprisingly warm, thanks to the exhaust; access to the rear (we drove a two-door) is a tad tight; and that Mini trademark in the maxi-size speedo (OK, it has other instruments embedded) in the centre of the dashboard is, well, let's call it dumb. Thank goodness the Mini has a digital speedo in front of the steering wheel.

Surprisingly, the Mini can swallow a maxi-size load once you fold the rear seats down. There's no spare wheel (Mini uses run-flats) so boot space isn't bad compared with similar size cars.

VERDICT

This four-seater Mini is just fun.

2014 Mini Paceman JCW
Price: from $58,600
Engine: 1.6L four-cylinder turbo petrol, 160kW/280Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic or manual, AWD
Thirst: 7.4L/100km, 172g/km CO2

Pricing Guides

$28,270
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$16,390
Highest Price
$40,150

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Cooper 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $16,390 – 21,010 2014 Mini Paceman 2014 Cooper Pricing and Specs
Cooper JCW All4 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $31,680 – 38,170 2014 Mini Paceman 2014 Cooper JCW All4 Pricing and Specs
Cooper S 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,310 – 30,030 2014 Mini Paceman 2014 Cooper S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7