While it may receive a name change before taking a bow at dealerships, the Paceman will be the seventh MINI model in showrooms, following the debut of the MINI Roadster in 2012 and the MINI Cooper Coupe this October. The Paceman is based on the same underpinnings as the MINI Countryman crossover, and will be produced in the same assembly plant in Graz, Austria. The new concept was displayed at the 2011 Autoshow in Detroit.
“If MINI keeps releasing cars at their current pace, we’re going to have to expand our showroom,” said Tim Parker, general manager of New Country MINI, a Hartford, Connecticut MINI dealer. “The Paceman packs the capability of the Countryman into a sportier package, which is the right recipe for a lot of Connecticut MINI fans that want a fun ride when the weather is cooperating and a trusty grip when it does not.”
Sharing running gear with the Countryman means the Paceman will have a solid base to build upon. As the only MINI car currently available with all-wheel drive, the Countryman is a change of pace compared to the rest of the lineup. While still small by most standards, the Countryman is the biggest of the MINI bunch, offering room for four adults. Cargo space is a healthy 41.3 cubic feet, which means there is plenty of room for camping gear or groceries. With its convenient hatch and its wheelbase, length and width identical to the Countryman, the Paceman should have similar space.
Power in the MINI Countryman is supplied by one of two 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines, with the standard engine producing 121 horsepower and the turbocharged mill available in the S model delivering 181 horsepower. Both engines are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic, but ALL4 all-wheel drive is available only with the turbocharged engine. While the Paceman is slated to have similar drivetrain options, it is also expected to come with the option of the juiced-up 208-horsepower engine found in the John Cooper Works models of the flagship MINI Cooper and MINI Clubman.
When it comes to fuel economy, standard Countryman models are capable of 35 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission, while S models return 32 mpg with front-wheel drive and 31 mpg when equipped with ALL4 all-wheel drive.
“MINI has a great formula for creating vehicles that are fun and functional, and the Countryman is a fine example of that formula at work,” Parker noted. “Adding the Paceman to the lineup means yet another option for Connecticut drivers who are tired of boring crossovers.”
After starting production 10 years ago, the two-millionth MINI recently rolled off the Oxford, England assembly line with British Prime Minister David Cameron behind the wheel. The production milestone shows that the brand is maintaining another mainstay of the MINI badge: its popularity.