The northern part of Spain around the city of Bilbao is an interesting place. None of it actually makes you think you’re in Spain and further along the coast and up into the hills, along with the road signs, quaint chalet villages have you believing you’re in Eastern Europe. As beautiful as the scenery is, it also seems to have suffered something of an identity crisis.
Which is what the new model from MINI also seems to be suffering from. The Paceman is the seventh model from the MINI family and is what they have described as a coupe interpretation of the Countryman, but it does just look like an inflated MINI Hatch. The three-door sporty number is bulbous and the curved front has people remarking it is unhappy looking. The car in simple terms looks sad.
The rear looks strikingly similar to the Fiat 500L and the Paceman badge on the back appears to have taken its style cues from an American diner.
MINI Paceman Interior is Quirky
On the inside it’s a totally different story and it retains MINIs quirky features, plenty of flick switches like in a cockpit, ambient lighting in the centre rail storage system, a sunglass case and not forgetting the huge central speedo. I know it’s a MINI thing, but it does really dominate the interior and it’s not always that easy to read the speed you’re doing. When driving you’re unlikely to keep averting your gaze to the centre. The best thing about it is the multimedia system and satellite navigation.
The strictly four-seater leather seats are comfortable, but as it’s being sold as a sporty car, they did lack some support going around bends and you did tend to move around the seat a lot.
The rear seats can be folded down to increase loading space from 330 litres to 1080 litres. There is also a concealed shelf that has quite a depth to it, so great for putting even more into the boot.
Paceman Engines and Driving
The first MINI I ever drove was the Hatch and I remember at the time comparing it to driving a go-kart. We drove the MINI Cooper S Paceman and it still drives like one, which is where the fun factor comes in using a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s quite nimble and on some of the roads we tested it on which were littered with tight hairpins, it handled really well and pressing the Sport button will change the light steering and make it more responsive. Avoid sports suspension if you can as it lacks traction, or an option is the all-wheel drive system which gives you that reassuring grip should you need it.
The exhaust makes a popping noise, which had a few Spaniards stopping and staring, but the engine noise when revving through the range is very noisy, almost deafening and isn’t a thrill for the ears. It’s a shame as you want it to sound so nice.
The MINI Cooper S Paceman 1.6-litre produces 184 bhp and goes from 0 to 62mph in 7.5 seconds. With benefits like Auto Start/Stop and Shift Point Display it has combined mpg of 46.3 and CO2 emissions of 143g/km.
For those wanting a diesel, the MINI Cooper SD Paceman has a 2.0-litre 143bhp engine, which returns 61.4mpg of fuel economy and 122g/km of CO2 emissions.
Safety comes as standard in the Paceman with plenty of front and side airbag protection for front and rear seat occupants. Air-conditioning, sports seats and powered door mirrors are just some of the equipment as standard and with prices starting from £18,970 it is around £2,000 more than the Countryman.
So we’ve had Countryman, now Paceman. Will the next one be Spaceman? With a rumoured 7 seater being built, you just never know.