I recently enjoyed a comedy on Channel 4 called Man Down. Centered on a school teacher, Greg Davies, who messes everything he does up & who is back at home with his bonkers parents. ( A bit like Sorry but with far cruder jokes. ) In one episode, his best friend becomes obsessed with jogging, not jogging alone but running with a group of blokes led by a strong & confident character played by Ramon Tikaram, who the group hero worship. However, this character has an unusually large bottom, which our hero can’t get past & there are several hilarious scenes involving this plot line, until the large bottomed character gets into his car, which is MINI Paceman & drives away. It was the perfect car for the character, not because of his large derriere, but because of his confident persona & it got me into thinking that perhaps all cars reflect their owners personalities ?
A couple of weeks after watching Man Down, BMW loaned CCV a MINI Paceman, giving me the opportunity to see if my hunch was correct. Ostensibly, the Paceman is a 3 door version of the MINI Countryman, with a reduction in roof & ride height, 39 mm & 10 mm, only four passenger seats & a slightly smaller 20 litre boot. It is in effect MINIs version of a Range Rover Evoque 3 door & is aimed it would seem at attracting the same type of customer.
From the outside the Paceman does look like a Countryman & it shares the same platform & styling. This continues on the inside with lots of retro MINI touches such as the large circular speedo. The quality of the interior is very good & the switch gear is familiar from all MINIS built from 2007 onwards. The front seats are comfortable & access to the rear is via a lever on each . As our company currently runs a Countryman, I found the lack of rear doors a bit of a pain if you need to carry more than two passengers, although it’s much easier getting in & out than it is in the MINI hatch because there’s a large gap to climb through. Annoyingly, the front seats don’t return to their original position after being slid out of the way, forcing you to adjust your driving position. Rear seat space is okay if you’re under six-foot & the practicality is reduced still further because there’s no central seat. However, the Paceman is not aimed at an old git like me but a younger single or childless couple who want something a little funky to drive & in that respect it delivers.
Talking of which, with the 1.6 turbocharged Cooper S engine offering 184 bhp, although 75 kg heavier than a MINI Cooper S hatchback, it’s still rapid, reaching 62 mph in 7.5 seconds. A lot of fun can be had in this, but the flipside is that the petrol engines fuel economy drops considerably. MINI claim a combined of 46.3 mpg, I averaged in Winter weather a shade over 30 mpg. Emissions are 143g/km.
Mini is famously tight with equipment, so it’s a nice surprise to see that the Paceman has a decent amount as standard. Whichever version you choose, you’ll get air-con, front electric windows, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and a DAB radio with a USB input. Standard safety equipment includes front, side and curtain airbags, as well as Dynamic Stability Control. The turbocharged Cooper S I tested was £22,355 & had both the £2445 Chili Pack of 18in rims, xenon lights, ambient lighting, rain sensors and the £1630 Media Pack, sat-nav, Bluetooth, and voice control, fitted, so this seriously bumps up the price. Keep an eye out for MINI contract hire offers though, because for example, there are often ‘ business ‘ specials available which include one or other of these packs as part of standard monthly rental.
Paceman prices start at £18,970 for a 1.6-litre Cooper model, but as a company car driver you’ll more realistically be looking at the diesel engined model, the 1.6 Cooper D, which starts at £20,210. This model offers pretty good performance with the bonus of better fuel economy, with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 115g/km. As this is the same engine that we have in our Countryman, I can tell you that a more likely return is around 42 mpg in Winter with mostly town driving, although I have got this up over 50 mpg on the motorway.
Ultimately, when MINI launched the MINI Countryman, it divided opinion on whether a MINI this large should be called a MINI or should be renamed a MAXI. I had my doubts, but the combination of the retro interior & practicality of a five door hatch won me over & the Countryman is now our business car. The Paceman also offers the same retro touches & also makes you smile particularly when you’re in the Cooper s version, with it’s nifty gear change & full throttled acceleration. However, where the Countryman looks like a MINI on steroids the Paceman looks like, well a smaller Range Rover Evoque & I think that this really is the point of the Paceman, to offer BMW/MINI customers an Evoque-type car for less money & in that respect they’ve succeeded.
Will the Paceman reflect it’s drivers personality ? I think it will be driven by confident individuals, who want something just a little bit different from the norm, whist echewing the practicality of a family hatch back. As the standard MINI hatch has been such a resounding success, the Paceman should offer MINI customers the opportunity to drive something that stands out from the crowd & the Paceman really does.