The expansion of the Mini family has continued with the local launch of the Mini Cooper Paceman – taking the total number of bodystyles to seven.
Priced from $35,900, the Paceman will like the rest of Mini’s model range be offered in Cooper and Cooper S trim levels, the latter 1.6-litre turbocharged model commanding a premium of $8200 over it’s non-turbo sibling. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on both models, while a six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters is a $2350 option on both Cooper Paceman and Cooper S Paceman.
The Cooper Paceman features a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with 90kW of power and 160Nm of torque, getting from 0-100km/h in a claimed 10.4 seconds for the manual, and 11.5secs for the auto – respectively 1.3 seconds and 1.1 seconds slower than the $4400-cheaper Mini three-door hatch.
The more powerful Mini Cooper S Paceman is equipped with a turbocharged version of the same engine, producing 135kW and 240Nm of torque, and claiming 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds in manual guise, or 7.8 seconds for the automatic – around a half-second slower than the Mini three-door. There’s also an overboost function that pushes peak torque to 260Nm for short, full-throttle bursts, as well as a sport button, which sharpens throttle response and decreases steering assistance.
Average fuel consumption and emissions are rated at 6.5L/100km and 152g/km for the manual Cooper Paceman, while the automatic claims 7.6L/100m and 177g/km. The Cooper S Paceman uses slightly more at 6.6L/100km and 154g/km for the six-speed manual and 7.5L/km and 175g/km for the auto.
The Mini Paceman rides on the same platform as the four-door Mini Countryman.
Billed as a 'sports activity coupe', the two-door Mini Paceman is lower (by 43mm) and, more surprisingly, slightly longer (by 12mm) than its four-door stable mate. From the A-pillar forward, it’s almost identical, but from the A-pillar aft, the Paceman has an all-new skin.
As such, the Paceman has been designed exclusively as a four-seater (buckets all-round), which, when folded, expand the standard load capacity from 330-litres to a maximum 1080-litres – just shy of the Mini Countryman (1170L).
The Mini Paceman presents a more stylish silhouette than the Countryman, thanks to a sloping roof, rising beltline and blacked out window pillars.
But, the most distinctive feature about the new Paceman is the horizontal rear light assembly – a first for the Mini brand.
It’s also the first Mini in the brand’s line-up to wear a rear model (Paceman) nameplate.
The Paceman’s standard sport suspension lowers the vehicle by 10mm and consists of a MacPherson Strut front axle and multilink setup at the rear. However, the car can be ordered with regular suspension and ride height as a no-cost option.
The steering is eclectically power assisted and speed-sensitive across the Paceman range.
Like the Mini Countryman, the Paceman includes six airbags, dynamic stability control with anti-locking brakes, electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control brake assist and hill assist – earning it a top five-star safety rating from EuroNCAP.
The Mini Cooper S Paceman adds dynamic traction control, which allows controlled slip through the driven wheels for use in sand or snow. In DSC Off mode, an electronic differential lock control is activated that can assist handling in tight corners by braking a spinning wheel. Both these systems are available as an optional extra on the regular Mini Cooper Paceman
Inside, there’s the usual eccentric mini fare including the super-size speedometer mounted at the centre of the dash, along with an array of toggle switches. Standard equipment across the Paceman range includes air conditioning, sports leather steering wheel, front seat armrests, model-specific doorsill lettering a Mini CD audio system with Bluetooth phone and USB audio interface, auto lights and wipers and chrome line interior.
The Mini Cooper Paceman also gets 16-inch light-alloy wheels, while the Cooper S Paceman rides on standard-fit 17-inch alloys.
Additionally, a full set of run-flat tyres is available for $200.
18-inch and 19-inch light-alloy wheels can be specified as extra-cost options on all Paceman variants, along with heated seats, automatic climate control, electrically operated glass roof, comfort access, Bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps with black headlamp housing, auto-dimming rear-view and exterior mirrors, rear parking sensors and rain-sensing wipers.
Also on the options list is a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and Mini navigation system, a voice control unit and DAB tuner.
The Mini Cooper Paceman and Cooper S Paceman are available in showrooms from March 2013, to be followed by a JCW (John Cooper Works) edition in May.
Mini Cooper Paceman pricing (Manufacturer’s List Price)
• Mini Cooper Paceman (manual): $35,900
• Mini Cooper Paceman (automatic): $38,250
• Mini Cooper S Paceman (manual): $44,100
• Mini Cooper S Paceman (automatic): $46,450