The MINI Paceman has become the eighth model in MINI's ever-expanding line-up. The Paceman is based on the Countryman, but loses a set of doors and gains a few additional details to help differentiate it.
Most striking are the rear lights, which – for the first time on a MINI – are mounted horizontally.
Also, the roof is lower and now sweeps downwards, giving the Paceman a profile similar to the Range Rover Evoque. There’s also a large Paceman badge across the boot lid – also a first for the brand.
The interior has a few subtle changes over the Countryman, too. The standard seating arrangement is 2+2 (an option in the Countryman), and the car comes with MINI’s Centre Rail, which lets you slide accessories such as drinks holders from front to rear.
And to the joy of many MINI owners, the electric window controls have moved from the centre console to the armrests. Sports seats come as standard for the driver and passenger.
The new shape has hindered practicality slightly, with boot space falling from 350 litres in the Countryman to 330 litres. Folding the seats down lifts that figure to 1,080 litres, which is 90 litres down on the maximum boot space in the five-door.
Only four engine variants will be available in the Paceman, starting with the petrol-powered Cooper and Cooper S, while the Cooper D and Cooper SD diesels are also on offer.
All are available with ALL4 four-wheel drive and each makes the Paceman a tenth of a second quicker from 0-62mph than the Countryman. That means 7.5 seconds for the front-wheel drive Paceman Cooper S.
Fuel economy is identical to the Countryman, ranging from the lowest figure of 42.1mpg in the ALL4 Cooper S to 64.2mpg for the front-wheel drive Cooper D.
The Paceman is more than simply a Countryman with a couple of doors missing and a more stylish design – it’s good fun to drive. The sharper handling is down to stiffer chassis settings, retuned power steering and a reduction in ride height of 10mm.
However, the softer, higher set-up of the Countryman is available at no extra cost for buyers who value ride comfort over handling.
The MINI Cooper Paceman will arrive in the UK in March 2013 and starts at £18,970 – that’s £940 more than the Cooper Countryman – and tops out at £24,290 for the Cooper SD ALL4 model.