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Mini Paceman S 2013 Review

EXPERT RATING
6

I keep joking that someone should hold a seance to find out what the original Mini's designer Alec Issigonis thinks about the new one, especially the growing diversity of models.

Old Sir Alec died 25 years ago but back in his day there was just the Mini and the Mini wagon/panel van, as well as a ute but that was about it. Fast forward and we have just finished driving the seventh variation of the new Mini  the Paceman.

VALUE

A two-door, four-seat coupe, based on the off road Countryman, the Paceman is priced from $35,900, or from $44,100 for the more powerful Cooper S model (the subject of our review). 

Built in Austria standard kit includes 16 inch alloys, sports suspension, sports seats, leather steering wheel, front and rear fog lights, automatic lights and wipers, Chrome line interior and Bluetooth with USB interface. The Cooper S adds Dynamic Traction Control, Sport Button, 17inch alloys, clear indicator lenses and stainless steel trim for the pedals and footrest.

TECHNOLOGY

It's powered by the same 1.6-litre engine as other Minis, this one with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection producing 135kW of power and 240Nm of torque, with an extra 20Nm available briefly via overboost between 1700 and 4500 revs. The engine is paired with a six-speed manual or optional six speed automatic gearbox, with drive to the front wheels.

Overseas the car is also offered with all-wheel drive, like the Countryman on which is is based. It's fitted with lowered sports suspension as standard, but still rides about 10mm higher than a regular Cooper S  although the car can also be ordered with regular suspension and ride height as a no-cost option.

The Cooper S version also comes with DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) that allows controlled slip through the driven wheels. When the system is deactivated an electronic diff lock brakes whichever drive wheel is spinning to enhance handling. In terms of performance the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h takes 7.5 seconds and it has a top speed of 217 km/h. Fuel consumption for the manual is 6.6 and for the auto, 7.5 litres/100km (we were getting 7.8 after about 600km of mixed driving).

DESIGN

We don't get it, but like a shark the Mini has to keep moving forward or it drown and sink to the bottom. In effect, this is the Mini equivalent of the equally weird looking BMW X6, also described as a sports activity vehicle. It's almost as big and heavy as the Countryman and the only one so far to have a name on the back. BMW of course owns the Mini franchise.

SAFETY

Unlike the Mini Cooper, which scores a full five stars for safety, Countryman gets only four stars for from the Australian ANCAP organisation and we can only assume Paceman will score the same (it hasn't been rated yet).

Comes with a full complement of safety equipment including six airbags, electronic traction and stability control, an electronic differential lock and anti lock brakes with brake assist, corner braking control and electronic brake force distribution.

DRIVING

Can't argue with the way it goes. It's a great engine that likes to rev with plenty of torque down low. The manual shift is easy to use and third gear offers a broad range for corner to corner work. But the car has a tendency to move around on choppy, secondary roads when put under pressure, especially the rear wheels which are prone to lift off.

Fitted with 205/55 17s, the tyres have plenty of grip but the taller body structure and higher centre of gravity come into play eventually, reducing the limits of its handling. Having said that it was more than a match for a group of motorcycles that we encountered during a searching test drive, although by the looks of them they were still learning how to setup their corners properly.

A defining feature of the car, the huge centre speedo is almost impossible to read at a glance, but fortunately the smaller unit atop the steering column offers a digital readout. Although described as a four seater larger passengers may find it a bit cramped back there.

VERDICT

We like it. The head says no but the heart says yes  but if we were contemplating the purchase of a Mini any day soon we'd probably opt for the regular one and a Cooper S (the JCW is just too expensive).

Mini Paceman Cooper S

Price: from $44,100
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Capped servicing: no
Resale: 56% (Glass's)
Service interval: 12 months/25,000km (condition based)
Safety: 5 stars (Countryman)
Engine: 1.6-litre 16-valve direct-injection turbo 4-cyl, 135kW/240Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto; FWD
Thirst: 7.5l/100km, tank 47 litres, on test 10.6, 95RON PULP; 166g/km CO2
Dimensions: 4.1m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.5m (h)
Weight: 1330kg
Spare: run-flats

Pricing Guides

$18,395
Based on 9 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,880
Highest Price
$20,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Cooper 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $14,888 – 18,800 2013 Mini Paceman 2013 Cooper Pricing and Specs
Cooper JCW All4 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $30,250 – 36,410 2013 Mini Paceman 2013 Cooper JCW All4 Pricing and Specs
Cooper S 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,880 – 20,990 2013 Mini Paceman 2013 Cooper S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6