The crossover segment is an area of major interest to BMW. Over the years, we have seen a significant number of models emerge in this space, not only from the BMW brand but MINI as well. The iconic British brand joined the crossover segment back in 2010 with the four-door Countryman. The almost instant success of the Countryman helped the company move forward with their plans to launch a sportier version of the Countryman.

Dubbed Paceman, the two-door crossover was first introduced as a concept car at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, followed a year later by the production version.

To test the new Paceman, we headed over to Germany where an Cooper S model was waiting to be put through intensive driving over the course of a week.


Under The Hood

The 2013 MINI Cooper S Paceman comes equipped with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection engine which produces 184 hp at 5,500 rpm. Peak torque of 240 Newton meters (177 lb-ft) is on tap between 1,600 and 5,000 rpm. For those looking for an extra kick, an overboost function is at the driver’s disposal to provide particularly powerful bursts of acceleration, increasing torque to as much as 260 Newton meters (192 lb-ft) for a short time between 1,700 and 4,500 rpm.
The power is sent to all-four wheels via a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Our test car was equipped with the standard manual transmission, one that many journalists favor over the sometimes sluggish 6-speed automatic (an extra-cost option). MINI says that Paceman gets a new-style clutch assembly which eliminates the engagement difficulties some experienced in the Countryman.
MINI Cooper S Paceman

It reaches 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, or 7.2 seconds with the ALL4-branded all-wheel-drive system.

New Shape, Yet Similar Design

Using the MINI Countryman crossover as its the starting point, the Paceman is slightly longer and lower than the similar-looking Countryman. At 4.1 meters (162 inches) long, the MINI Paceman is an unique combination of a hatchback and a Sport Activity Coupe, a niche invented by BMW when it launched its X6 model. Both the Paceman and Countryman ride on a 102.2-inch wheelbase, but the Paceman is slightly lower and just a touch longer than the four-door SAV.


The design of the two-door Paceman stands out with a coupe-like silhouette, dressed in different sheet metal from the windshield pillar back. The car is short from nose-to-tail while it sports a fairly tall stance and muscular rear fenders. Another unique feature of the Paceman is the taillights, which have an horizontal design, a MINI’s first. An enormous “Paceman” badge sitting across the tailgate makes sure that anyone can identify it from far out.

The less-practical two-door Paceman is less family-oriented than the Countryman and caters to a younger demographic looking for the hipster look and feel of a MINI, but with added space and higher riding position.


Inside, MINI’s standard design cues are present and easily identifiable. Overall the design is similar to the Countryman, with the only major change being the window toggle switches now placed on the doors, a far more intuitive and user friendly implementation. The large speedometer is mounted at the center of the dash with the navigation screen at the center of the speedometer. Just like the Countryman, a two-part center rail storage and attachments extend from the front to rear seats, with two separate sections.

The car is designed to carry four passengers and the Paceman comes with two rear bucket seats that offer adequate leg and head room for average size passengers. If you’re more on the tall side, slouching a bit in the seat may become a necessity. Folding down the rear seats expands the cargo capacity from 11.6 cubic feet to a maximum 38.1.

On The Road

To properly test the MINI Cooper S Paceman model, we made a round trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. Skipping the Autobahn gave us a chance to test MINI’s iconic go-kart feeling through curvy back roads which put the All4 system to a good workout. Despite weighing in at 1,479 kilograms (3260 lbs), the Cooper S Paceman and its 184 horsepower proved to be capable of conquering the windy roads and elevation changes. When tossed into a tight corner, the small in size, but precise steering wheel inspires confidence and while it doesn’t have the reflexes of a MINI hatchback, the Paceman is a fun ride. The car does have a bit of tendency to understeer, but that’s expected from a car of its size.

The slightly lower and stiffer suspension are a bit too rough for the “regular” driver, but those that enjoy a more sporty and bumpy ride would have no complaints here. Standard equipment on all Paceman models includes a sports suspension, though a standard suspension is a no-cost option.

Since we love to test most of the MINIs and BMWs in the Sport mode, we quickly switched over to measure the throttle response. As expected, the throttle is more sensitive and adds a sense of more involvement with the road. On the way back, we took the Autobahn to see how it handles at higher speeds. Since the test car came with winter tires, the top speed was limited to 210 km/h, enough to give us a sense of whether the Paceman can easily pass other cars and effortlessly brake when needed. Without being extremely roomy and comfortable, the Paceman can be a great a companion for longer road trips.

1,000 kilometers later and the Cooper S Paceman returned an average of 9 liters/100 km, or 26 mpg.


Bottom Line

With its unique design, the MINI Paceman carves out a new niche. The base price is higher than the Countryman but still lower than the Range Rover Evoque, which puts the two-door Paceman in a good spot. The design caters to a new, younger demographic and even the MINI die-hard fans will come to appreciate the boldness of this crossover coupe.

Following the recipes of latest MINI models, the Paceman is hippy, practical and most important, fun to drive, the perfect ingridients that will help increase MINI’s overall sales.

In the U.S., the 2013 MINI Cooper S Paceman has a base price range of $27,500 to $29,200.

Article sponsored by Irvine MINI, California.