Test Drive: Mini Cooper S Paceman ALL4 image

First was the Countryman, and now here it is: the new Paceman compact crossover. Yes, this is a Mini, but not that “mini” like the one built in the 60’s. It has about the same size as Hyundai Veloster and its only 9cm shorter than a VW Golf.

The Paceman shares the almost everything with his bigger brother, just that it has only 3 doors, a coupe roofline, horizontal taillights, lowered sports suspension and looks like a go-kart somehow, which, by the way, it’s nice… and when I’m saying “shares” I’m saying that besides technical details, from the A-pillar forward is perfectly identical to the Countryman. In addition, you can use it during winter times and twisty country roads without any problem as it offers the ALL4 all-wheel drive system.

2013 Mini Paceman test drive - driving shoots

It basically comes with the same “air” as all Minis’ we know: is dynamic, fun to drive and … not very normal. Furthermore, this one is not built in the UK; it is assembled in Austria at Graz by Magna Steyr alongside the bigger Countryman crossover.

One thing is to be noticed: it’s called paceMAN … like the countryMAN, clubMAN and so on … but that doesn’t mean that is designed for MANS only. And … Mini says this is the world’s first sport utility coupe…. Hmmm ? So what you’re saying Johnny – this is a compact X6 from Mini?

Engine, transmission, fuel consumption

In Europe, buyers can choose between five different engines. All petrols are 1.6-liter with power ranging from 121 hp in the Paceman Cooper, 184 hp in Cooper S variant and 208 for the latest John Cooper Works. In case you are looking for a diesel, you have the 112 hp 1.6-liter in the MINI Cooper D and a 2.0-liter 105 kW/143 hp turbo diesel in the MINI Cooper SD Paceman.

Our test vehicle was equipped with the 184 hp (135 kw) petrol unit and the all-wheel drive ALL4 system.

2013 Mini Paceman test drive All4 all wheel drive system

This is a 1,380 kg “Mini”, so is not that small as some might think, but the petrol moves the car with ease and the engine feels pretty energic and elastic. Sometimes feels a little bit weak in torque if you’re under 2000 rpm, but over 3,000 rpm everything changes as the turbo kick in. It also sounds nice.

There’s a sport button somewhere in the cockpit, and Mini says it stiffens up the steering and makes the throttle more responsive. The steering gets heavier indeed, but the throttle pedal remains the same with or without the sport mode engaged.

The gearbox is one of the best in business – however is not very short, and the satsuma-sized gear knob made me switching into wrong gears a couple of times – so I’m not big fan of “gigantic” gear knobs ( you can find a similar one in the Fiat 500L ). Probably the best would be to get an automatic, but that’s going to add you about 2,000 euro to the final price.

2013 Mini Paceman gear knob - manual gearbox

That being said, the all-wheel drive Mini will eat about 6 liters for every 100 km of highway if you’re traveling at 90km/h (that’s about 39 mpg) and 7.4 – 7.6l at 130 km/h (30 – 31 mpg). During city operations, fuel consumption goes up to at least 9% or even 10 %. This is what we achieved after more than 2000 km, and I can say that considering that this is a 4×4 vehicle, the fuel consumption is pretty decent.

Handling, safety
The steering is optimum; is sharp and responsive. It becomes a little heavier as you’re going through the corners and – if you’re getting faster the steering is getting heavier and is all proportional; it feels right.

The Paceman has less ground clearance, firmer helm and weighs about 20 kg less than a Countryman, but still rides about 10mm higher than a regular Cooper S. And on the same time, it has a stiffer structure because this one is a two door car. Overall the body roll effect is well controlled, much better than in the case of the Countryman. It also has a lot of grip, but if the road starts to deteriorate and you hit a bump while you’re going around a corner the car will start to shake and lose the grip witch is not very nice.

2013 Mini Paceman ALL4 winter driving - review

Mini’s ALL4 all wheel drive is great but because the car has less ground clearance than a proper SUV don’t get too “offroady”

It’s fun to drive? … as a standard mini hatchback ? Well not really, but definitely feels much better than the Country man.
Standard safety equipment includes DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), front, side and curtain airbags. In case of a crash it will automatically cut off the fuel pump, helping reduce the risk of a dangerous fire being started.
Euro NCAP hasn’t tested yet the Paceman, but his bigger brother, the Countryman, achieved 5 stars when tested back in 2010, so the Paceman should behave the same.

Interior, cargo space
Inside, the cabin is similar to other minis, with the gigantic speedometer in the middle of the dash, and a lot of retro toggle switches. Finally, the window and central locking controls have been moved to the doors. But the gear lever is just a long way down (making you feel you’re driving an SUV), and the seat controls are hard to reach.

2013 Mini Paceman interior - looks funky

2013 Mini Paceman central console - buttons are too small

2013 Mini Paceman speedometer - Huge but not very effective - clearly design is more important for Mini

Considering that this is a crossover somehow it should be practical.
Getting into the rear is very easy, indeed, even if it has only 2 doors; but the doors are huge. Problem (at least for the driver) is that the front seats don’t return to their original position after being slid, so you have to reset your driving position every time someone gets on the back! But the good news is that there’s a lot of space on the back for two adults (compared to a regular Mini); it offers a “lounge atmosphere”, and the central aluminium rail system allows passengers to customize, and even add or remove different elements like cup holders or sunglasses/cell phone holders. Pretty original if you ask me, and again, Mini demonstrates that is unique.

2013 Mini Paceman - interior space is good for 2 adults

The navigation sits inside the center of the speedo and looks the same as the one found on different BMW models, which by the way is great in terms of screen resolution. Browsing through the menus is a little bit difficult until you get used to the tiny joystick that is positioned low behind the gearstick. But you do have almost all the goods like Facebook, Twitter and many other apps – all you need to do is to connect your phone to the car. Problem is that it costs 1,620 euro ($2,226).

Lather quality is great, the finish is good, but s that there are some areas where Mini mixed some really good plastics with some really cheap plastics – don’t know why.

It also has almost the same cargo space as the Countryman, with a maximum load area of 1,080 litres when the back seats are folded, so not a problem if you want to go skiing. With the seats in position it still offers 330 liters of space, about the same as a Ford Focus.

2013 Mini Paceman Cargo space

This is a unique vehicle and is hard to find direct competitors. Probably the most “active” competitors would be the Fiat 500, Lexus CT200h or the Vw Golf GTI and even the more expensive Evoque.

It’s a great driving car, and is unique and different. Like all Minis there are hundreds of different combinations of paint colors, wheels, graphics, bonnet stripes and interior trim options so you can personalize the car to suit your own taste. The automaker says there are more than 10 million ways to design a Mini. It’s practical too, but if you have a family, you might have to take a look at the Countryman. The steering is great and it gives you confidence in almost any condition.

But it’s a little pricey. As a mater in fact is 3,000 euro more than the Countryman. Over 100 km/h it’s noisy and sometimes this may cut the fun factor. The retro toggle switches are small and awkwardly placed so it will take some time until you get used to them.
That being said, even if the Paceman is marketed as a sports car, is not really a sports car.

2013 Mini Paceman artistic shot - test drive

Tested vehicle
2013 Mini Cooper S Paceman ALL4 – starting at 24,500 eur ( Europe), $23,300 (U.S.)
Length/width/height: 4,109 / 1,786 / 1,518 mm
Wheelbase: 2,596 mm
Tank capacity: 47 liters
Weight: 1,380 kg
Engine: 1.6 L turbocharged four-cylinder
Output: 181 hp @ 5,500 rpm; 177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Performance: 0–100 km/h: 7,5 seconds
Performance: 80–120km/h (4th gear) : –
Official fuel consumption: Urban: 7,5l/ Extra-urban: 5.4l / Combined 6.1l
CO2: 143 g/km


3.8 / 5

December 11th, 2013


  • Jon

    The drivers seat will keep its position but only if you move the seat bottom first before returning the back rest. (See owners manual).
    I have a paceman and love it. Contrary to what some reviews say I find the controls easy to use. (Easier than my wife's Honda Pilot).