Brand manager Kay Segler said: “We didn’t call it the ‘Countryman Coupe’ as this is a character on its own. This is a Paceman.”
That attitude reveals itself in the looks. Sure, it has the same front-end styling as the Countryman, but from the B-pillar back it’s entirely different. There’s a tapering roofline and rising waist, plus sculpted wheelarches that wrap around horizontal tail-lights.
Despite the sporty shape, there’s plenty of room inside – a six-footer can easily sit in any of the seats – while there’s up to 1,080 litres of boot space (the Countryman has 1,190 litres).
The one potential problem is that you can only order the Paceman with two individual rear seats, so families of five need not apply. At the wheel, you’re in familiar territory, with chrome details and a large central speedo.
The Paceman sits lower than the Countryman thanks to standard sports suspension, but raised seating ensures you still get a great view of the road.
The Cooper S is powered by the same 181bhp 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder used across the MINI family, and it’s an absolute cracker, with plenty of character.
Throttle response is near instant in the six-speed manual we tested, and while the shift is a little clunky, the Paceman is still a joy to drive. It’s not quite as sharp as the MINI hatchback, but it’s more fun than the Countryman. We didn’t miss the optional
four-wheel-drive system, either, which costs an additional £1,255.
The steering is responsive, with Sport mode adding weight, while the brakes are strong. And the ride is better than on the hatch, partly due to the longer wheelbase.
It’s as efficient as the Cooper S Countryman, with 46.3mpg and 143g/km, but the Paceman costs £940 more, at £22,355.