JUST when it seemed that BMW owned Mini UK had run out of ideas for further developing their impressive range the company has just come up with the seventh family member the all new Mini Paceman which is a coupe interpretation of the Countryman and which has entered a new premium sales sector for Mini writes Bryan Longworth.
The Austrian built Paceman now joins the Hatch, Clubman, Convertible, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster and it seems set to acquire another group of admirers who want something a bit different from the various other Mini models that have appeared since BMW successfully relaunched the iconic Mini.
Paceman looks much like the other models at the front but has more sporty styling with a sloping rear roof line that provides the car with a distinct eyecatching image in much the same as the Land Rover Evoque has achieved - one admirer even described it as a mini Evoque!
Five versions are currently available and my test car was the Mini Cooper SD ALL4 Paceman with four wheel drive and powered by a 143bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine with a six speed manual gearbox and a top speed of 122mph, a zero to 62mph time of 9.3 seconds and an on the road price of £24,290 - prices start at £18,970.
Built on the Countryman platform the three door Paceman has horizontal rear lights which are a first for a Mini as is the Paceman name across the back of the car and it is a distinct four seater with a rear load capacity of 330 litres with the individual rear seats in place and 1,030 litres with them folded.
The test car had lowered sports suspension and a sport switch tweaked the engine’s responses and the power assistance provided by the steering to provide the driver with even more on the road fun.
I have always been a Mini lover since owning one of the original models and it was really nice to drive the latest offering which attracted a lot of attention because of its sloping rear end that provides it with even more street and showroom appeal.
The ride is firm but not excessively so and the precise steering which is a special Mini feature and the sporty performance from the diesel engine all helped to make the test period so enjoyable.
Inside the leather clad cockpit the distinctive Mini switchgear and instruments are the same as on the other models and while the huge central speedometer which is the size of a dinner plate looks good I preferred to use the digital speedometer immediately in front of the driver and is easier to see.
There was plenty of standard kit including the snazzy 17-inch Black Star alloy wheels but the test car had optional equipment on board which took the price to nearly £31,000 including the comfortable stylish seats, adaptive xenon headlights and media pack that had satellite navigation in the middle of the speedometer.
Some admirers liked the car but wondered if Paceman would sell because of the number of models already in the Mini range although I believe it will appeal to those enthusiasts wanting something different with distinctive sporty styling that this model offers.
The rear sloping roof and back of the car have been criticised by some motoring writers but in my opinion they are features that make Paceman stand out now it has entered a new sales sector that should help to boost its overall appeal and take Mini to a new level.
My Verdict: Another Mini masterstroke.