MINI Paceman is a sportier, two-door version of the Countryman introduced last year and will come to market in 2013. The folks over at InsideLine sat behind the wheel of a Paceman prototype and share their impressions with us:
“The 2013 Mini Paceman also sits on the same structure as the bigger five-door and shares the same wheelbase and track, but its roof is 1.7 inches lower while depriving occupants of only 0.5 inch of headroom. This packaging feat is partly achieved because it rides 0.4 inch closer to the ground. This lower stance is consistent with the large-scale three-door Mini’s role, which is to deliver a more dynamic drive than the Countryman while providing more space than the standard hatch. The Paceman is also 44 pounds lighter than the Countryman, too.
A Better Drive?
We drove the top-of-the-range four-wheel-drive 181-horsepower Paceman Cooper S All4. It was in near-production form, as the pictures of this part-camouflaged car suggest. There’s also a front-drive version of the same car and a 119-hp normally aspirated Cooper. A new six-speed automatic option replaces the previous CVT (continuously variable transmission).
In terms of the driving experience, this development car is pretty close to the finished thing, not least because it isn’t all that different from a Countryman. But it is different, and in ways that for the most part will please the keen driver, as we discovered in back-to-back comparisons with a two-wheel-drive Countryman Cooper S.
The Paceman immediately feels better tied down, as you’d expect of a car that rolls closer to the road. It’s more firmly sprung and as a consequence feels more agile. The chassis changes also reduce the appearance of one of the Countryman’s less endearing dynamic quirks: that is, an odd loss of steering resistance over midcorner bumps that causes it to suddenly spear deeper into a bend than intended. The flaw is still there, but it surfaces less often.”