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  • Comfortable ride and interior; excellent traction; strong engine; responsive steering; lots of standard features
  • Price; practicality; not that quick; not as sharp as hatch; long list of options

7 / 10

Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review

The Mini Paceman, the seventh full-production model to come from the British brand, is the latest to get the treatment from associated performance stable John Cooper Works. The JCW badge is also a natural fit for the sportiest version of the biggest Mini and Australia’s first model to combine four-wheel drive with two doors.

Starting at $58,600 the Mini Paceman John Cooper Works sits at the top of the Paceman tree – $11,445 over the penultimate 135kW/240Nm Paceman Cooper S automatic. Select the JCW in automatic guise and this jumps $3055 to $61,655.

On price, the Paceman model holds top spot on the JCW ladder, as expected. It’s ahead of both the Roadster and Cabrio and $1800 more than its five-door, 9mm longer sibling – the Countryman JCW – on which it’s based. It’s also $1700 dearer than the limited edition track-ready JCW GP.

Though a high-riding, four-wheel-drive coupe seems niche, the segment is not exclusive to the four-seat Paceman JCW. Starting $3705 less than the Mini, the three-door, 4WD Range Rover Evoque offers equal coffee strip cachet and seating capacity.

The Mini Paceman JCW is, as with all John Cooper Works models, powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder. Here it produces 160kW at 6000rpm and 280Nm between 1900-5000rpm. Torque can, however, be boosted to 300Nm between 2100-4500rpm via an overboost function. Sourced from the Hams Hall engine plant in England, the engine has been tweaked with reinforced pistons, a balanced crankshaft, an aluminium cylinder block and sodium-filled exhaust valves.

Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review

The petrol unit helps the 1400kg (1420kg auto) Paceman JCW claim 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds, whether teamed with the standard six-speed manual transmission or the six-speed paddle-shiftable automatic. That’s 0.6sec quicker than the 1305kg Paceman Cooper S manual.

Transmissions do impact official fuel and CO2 figures, however, with the manual returning 8.0 litres per 100km and 186 grams per kilometre to the auto’s 8.3L/100km and 193g/km.

Faced with Tasmania’s famed rally roads for its belated local launch, the Mini Paceman John Cooper Works’ characterful engine is sluggish below 2000rpm but remains adequate for conserving fuel or coasting on flats. By 3000rpm things are far more responsive (with or without Sport mode) and from 4000rpm to its 6500rpm redline, the Paceman pulls strongly. When pushed, smooth and linear power delivery is accompanied by a tough little turbo whoosh, but it never feels particularly quick in a straight line.

A light clutch gives adequate feel of the take up point and partners well with the Paceman’s notchy six-speed gearbox to engage drivers in all situations. Mini’s automatic gearbox with aggravating push/pull paddle shifters was not available to test.

Cruising through Hobart’s city centre the Paceman JCW rides well, providing a far more relaxing and forgiving experience compared with the likes of the firmly sprung Mini Cooper hatch, Coupe and Roadster. This is maintained on less populated, more curvaceous roads with the car handling most road joins and manhole covers without fuss when travelling at or below 80km/h. At this pace, small bumps aren’t felt through the steering wheel or the cabin, and the earlier levels of interior comfort and calm are retained.

Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review

Once more challenging roads are met, Sport mode can be selected to sharpen throttle response and allow unburnt fuel to exit the exhaust like superheated corn kernels.

As the pace increases north of 80km/h, the Paceman struggles to keep its previous composure over consistent ruts, big bumps and larger undulations and crests. The ALL4 system unique to the John Cooper Works model, however, does an exceptional job on the tight, wet – and sometimes icy – roads.

Working with the car’s stability and traction control, along with an electronic differential lock control for the electromagnetic centre diff, the permanent all-wheel-drive system juggles power constructively between front and rear axles. Combined with consistent and reliable brakes and 225mm-wide Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport tyres, the result is confident turn-in with enthusiastic corner exits.

Despite its 330kg weight penalty over the standard Mini hatch – a model that started out its life weighing 600kg – the Paceman changes direction happily enough when sequential corners are set up with some forethought. But it’s far from having the same pinpoint accuracy and sharpness its go-kart-like sibling is famous for and can’t match the agility of genuine performance models like the rear-drive BMW M135i and front-drive Renault Megane RS265.

Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review

Steering remains reasonably light whether on-centre or being loaded up through twisty Targa Tasmania roads. This consistency follows on once Sport mode is engaged but comes with greater weight rather than any improvement in precision.

JCW reminders are stuck all over the Paceman’s swooping body, and join unique features including a JCW aero kit, 10mm-lower sports suspension, firmer springs and dampers, strengthened anti-roll bars and 18-inch light-alloy wheels.

Inside, the flagship Paceman gains piano black interior trim strips, an anthracite-coloured headliner and a dark-coloured rev counter and 260km/h speedometer. A three-spoke multi-function leather JCW sports steering wheel is also present and gets red stitching mirrored on the comfortable sports seats, floor mats and manual gear lever.

Sharing its basic layout and black egg carton-like dash with the lower-specced Cooper and Cooper S models, the Paceman JCW cabin falls short of feeling luxurious or premium despite lashings of chrome and Chilli Red (a $195 option).

Space inside the two-door is remarkably good, both up front and when tucked behind the front seats. Six-footers are accommodated comfortably with sufficient rear leg and headroom despite the Paceman’s sloping roofline – a big win over the hatch’s cramped rear. The two foldable rear seats also allow luggage capacity to expand from 330 litres to 1080L – 90L shy of the Countryman’s maximum and 365L short of the Range Rover Evoque’s.

Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review
Mini Paceman JCW Review

Common across the Mini Paceman range are an engine start button, rear parking sensors, cruise control, electric mirrors, rain sensing wipers with automatic headlights, front and rear fog lights and a rear spoiler.

All local Paceman JCW’s also benefit from a standard fit Chilli Package that includes bi-xenon headlights with headlight washers, climate control air conditioning and an anti-dazzle rear-view mirror. Cloth/leather upholstery and a 10-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system with Bluetooth and USB/AUX connectivity is also included. Our white test car had been fitted with the radio Mini visual boost ($975) option as well as satellite navigation ($1495) and leather seats ($1430).

With personalisation long synonymous with Mini, the options list for the Paceman JCW also includes 19-inch wheels ($2340), heated front seats ($637), adaptive headlights ($520) and an electric glass sunroof ($2587).

At first glance combining four-wheel drive traction with JCW tuning in a unique four-seater two-door body holds a lot of potential. But priced nearer $60k than $50k (before options), the Paceman JCW can match neither the practicality of rival compact SUVs nor the performance of genuine sports cars. You do get a lot of style and plenty of kit with the JCW, but for $15,960 more than a Megane RS265 and not quite $10,000 less than a BMW M135i, both of which also seat five, the Paceman JCW is too fine a proposition.

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Mini Paceman JCW Review
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  • Sam

    I like it! It looks great and it would feel nice to drive while youre bussing a passenger or negotiating city traffic, but the deal breaker for me would be the engines ability to make the car do what it looks like it should. 60k for a 1.6? I would feel let down I think. With its staunch and angry looks promising something special, I would be left wanting for something a bit more potent.

    Mind you I am happy to disclaim that I cannot afford a 60k car and I am probably goingo to get a new Fiat 500C. My point may or may not be valild ot those who are actually shopping for a 60k car like this.

  • RHCM

    I agree. I like it. It’s not for everyone and many will be able to quite rightfully argue other sports cars for the price are better but I think these will add some nice variety to the sports hatch niche. Other mini derivatives are a bit stupid to me (the coupe, countrywhatever SUV thing) but like the clubman I enjoy this and see the point of it.

    I envision lots of cool asians driving them and look forward to it.

    First to make a snide comment about the toyota 86 being better and cheaper rah rah gets a mars bar!

  • Wi-Tu Lo

    I want one! :) But have to find a new job first :(

  • Phil

    More bad writing. The Mini hatch has never weighed 600kg. The original Mini did, but it was a sedan, not a hatch. The Mini Metro was the first hatch, and weighed 840kg.

  • $29896495

    36, 200 US (Autoblog) I think that’s all that needs to be said about this.

    • Bang-Ding Ow

      People of Aus please stop giving us US prices. Either move to the US or stay in Aus and shut you month.

      • $29896495

        Haven’t said a word but will happily type that Minis are seriously OVER PRICED in this country compared to ANY other. You want to go on selling them at way over their value so knuckle heads with more money than sense can buy them, go ahead. But anyone else with a working brain has the right to be aware that they are being screwed.

        New company car set up will no doubt see a major drop in mini sales, not to mention BMW. So if you aren’t selling them just a user you’ll be handing it back in, so the next person can buy it at more like it’s true value.

        • ToAllWhingers


          The MINI Paceman S retails for $216800 SGD in Singapore..which translates to $171,033.34 USD at the current exchange rates. Sounds cheaper than AU..??

          Stop whinging about cars being overpriced in Australia & STOP Comparing to the US Prices.

          The US Car Market is close to 15 times the size of the AU Market with almost all major manufacturers having their own Manufacturing/Assembly Operations in the States & most states are part of the NAFTA, resulting in the lower taxes & hence the lower prices.

          Study the Market Dynamics before commenting/comparing prices for different countries.

          • $29896495

            That is a pointless comparison. For example their cost of living. Australia and the US have similar societies similar lifestyles and our dollar is sometimes equivalent, that’s where the comparison lies. Same can’t be said of Singapore.

          • Sum-Ting Wong

            What you just wrote has nothing to do with car prices in different countries!! ToAllWhingers is 110% correct.

  • crouchy35

    So many options at this price, this would be near the bottom of my list.

  • Maz

    Nearly / $60k for a mini? You would need your head read to part with that much cash. So many better options at that $.

    • MINI_CS

      Or you like Mini’s
      There is more to Mini ownership than just price.

      • $29896495

        That’s delusional, unless you built and own an original Mini. Rip off prices for essentially a Corolla made in the UK by a BMW company sold for Corolla prices everywhere else is taking advantage of people like yourself. But, justify it how you like. It’s an argument that doesn’t hold water.

        • MINI_CS

          And you own?

          • $29896495

            I don’t see any follow up to my query. If you are a real enthusiast, not just a poser say.

          • MINI_CS

            Again… and you own what..? I do own 2 Mini’s both more expensive than this car.

          • $29896495

            You know I actually built a mini cooper S. You bragging about owning two current (more expensive) cars really fits the poser bill. Good luck waking up to yourself.

    • JooberJCW

      I’m not defending the worth of the car, as I agree on hardware vs price it doesn’t look good on paper, but your paying for the emotional aspects for this car, like all luxury goods in this world. Take for example Gucci/Burberry products etc compare it on a physical aspects its super overpriced to something like Guess, DKNY etc, but people pay for it, because there is emotion involved in owning things that are not ‘everybody has them’ things.

      Cars from Mini are targeted to people with higher disposable incomes, and marketed as a fun, free, hip car, not a car for practicality, those starting a family or as cost-saver.

      Though,in contrast, even then they try to bring the label down a notch to the masses with those ‘Ray’ models.

      That said, If you complain its not worth the money paid and need to make all your money spent count, you’re obviously not in that market category.

      Here’s a insight… the wealthy you are the more you buy on impulse and emotion, its a human trait, Just like a kid in a candy shop, when you don’t need to stress financially on what you pick, you let your heart decide more often than not, you get more attached to brands and looks rather than the functional benefits.

      • $29896495

        In other countries – as it’s interior shows, it’s not a disposable income car. It’s sold against Corolla and the like. It’s only here that, that BS goes on. But with these things you know what you are getting in most cases, and if you think any different you are kidding yourself and your bank manager. People that want them now will either have to buy them out of their own money or wait and get a second hand one at a reasonable price.

      • MINI_CS

        huwtum is far from the target demographic for Mini. In all markets it is sold a premium product. The Corolla (sic) is in a completely different target market here and overseas.

      • $29896495

        Seriously you have to look at comparable markets to ours and see where it sits. I’ve also seen inside those things in “real” life and the quality of the interior is nothing special. Same as the Beetle or Bambino which are considered it’s direct competition. In any case heart and head rule purchases of cars for those that like cars. Some peoples’ heads are in the wrong place though, despite evidence to the contrary.

  • $29896495

    I see being a poser is your speed. Also that you are getting upset that I won’t give you what you want. So you will never get it. Abuse away, means nothing to me. I take great pleasure in knowing that this is going to eat at you like cancer. 😉 See you later.


    Ok so we will assume you drive a Daewoo that you really think is a Holden… Note you started the unpleasant tone.

    Fools like you are of no concern to me at all. Have a nice life.

  • $29896495

    Assume what you like – no big deal to me. I’m not trying to be poser. As I wrote, good luck with that, doesn’t seem to be working for you.

Mini Cooper Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$41,140 - $46,750
Dealer Retail
$40,700 - $48,400
Dealer Trade
$31,600 - $37,400
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
280Nm @  1900rpm
Max. Power
160kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:750  Unbrake:500
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/45 R18
Rear Tyres
225/45 R18
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
Sports Suspension, Traction Control System
Trip Computer
Premium Sound System
Xenon Headlights
Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Optional Features
Heated Front Seats
Satellite Navigation
Metallic Paint
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Inner Guard
Country of Origin
United Kingdom