Selected journalists had the opportunity to drive a prototype of MINI’s latest model, the Paceman. Labeled as a crossover with two doors and a more dynamic stance, the Paceman shares the same front fascia, grille, headlights and hood with the Countryman.
Just like the MINI Countryman being built in Graz, Austria, the Paceman will be joining the production lines at Magna Steyr as well. Dr. Klaus Draeger confirmed in the past that production of Paceman will begin in late 2012 with first units arriving at dealerships in 2013.
The prototype still features some kind of a camouflage at the rear end, but nonetheless we are most interested in the driving experience anyway. Here is a quick excerpt from EVO magazine:
How does it drive?
You’re probably expecting to hear that the Paceman drives pretty much like the Countyman. But it doesn’t. The revised suspension settings have, on our first acquaintance, turned it into a considerably more dynamic machine, with less roll, more grip and a far less front-biased chassis balance, certainly on the dusty tarmac of our Spanish test route.
We drove the ‘All 4’ version which, like its Countryman sister, uses a part-time four-wheel drive system to redistribute torque to the rear axle when slip is detected at the front. On the Countryman you need to be pretty much driving on ice or mud to feel the benefit, but the Paceman proves far happier to play on slidey surfaces than its understeery sister. In that regard it feels like a bigger Mini hatchback.
The Paceman also seems to ride better than the Countryman, despite its firmer chassis settings, and with less vibration coming through the steering column over broken road surfaces.
Comments for the rest of the powertrain are as those for the Countryman – the higher-powered 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine doesn’t produce as much raw performance as you’d expect considering its 184bhp: blame the 1435kg kerbweight.