Paceman right side 1

Test Drive: 2014 Mini Cooper S Paceman ALL4

The exclusive mega Mini.

By: Anthony Fongaro | May 2015

 

Pop quiz time! What happens when you take a regular Mini Cooper Hardtop, put it on stilts, add two doors, decide that it looks too “mundane,” and make it into a two-door again? You get the Mini Paceman!

The Mini Paceman is a classic case of style over substance. In this case, it’s taking the Mini Countryman crossover, getting rid of the completely useless rear passenger doors, and making it difficult to see out of the back. What can possibly go wrong?

Well…Mini sold a whopping 1,600 Pacemans (Pacemen?) last year!  They did sell more than ten times that for the four-door Countryman but we’ll gloss over that unimportant fact. This is very surprising because who wouldn’t want a two-door semi-SUV  crossover called a Mini that isn’t actually mini? So to enliven my fellow motorists’ lives, I decided to test out an all-wheel version of the Paceman.

Paceman front 1

The name

Before I get into the review, I just want to say that Mini has a very unique way of branding their cars. Basically, every vehicle will have the word “Cooper” in it. This particular vehicle adds an “S” after Cooper for being the more sporty, “Paceman” because...it sounds like a thing, and ALL4 because AWD isn’t quirky enough. So the full name is the Mini Cooper S Paceman ALL4. Now that we understand that, onto the review!

Paceman left side 1

My, what big… doors… you have

If you haven’t noticed already, the Paceman is trying to pull off the “no really, I’m just an ordinary Mini!” look with its traditional two-tone paint on the side mirrors and roof. The front end looks like…a Mini. Nothing wrong there. And then you see it from the side and shake your head. The roof slopes down to make it look “sporty” which means the rear window is the size of a child’s shoe (which is fine if you don’t care about what’s behind you).  But what about the interior?

Mini Paceman interior 1

Is the interior as controversial (stupid) as the exterior?

Well, it’s a total Mini interior. Basically every dial, button, lever, doodad, gadget, and switch is in every other Mini. Per Mini traditions (which thankfully they changed for the newest Mini Cooper), the speedometer is the size of a small pizza dish and in the center console. I personally don’t like having speedometers positioned here because it feels distracting, but Mini was smart enough to put a itty-bitty digital readout under the tachometer. The Paceman I tested did not have navigation, which is placed inside the pizza platter. The Paceman also didn’t come with a back-up camera because Mini never made that an option. I’m sure if an engineer actually sat in the driver’s seat for more than 20 seconds, they would have made a back-up camera standard. There was an optional giant sunroof that did make the cabin feel more airy and produced a lot of glare to the giant pizza pan speedometer. Mini was smart enough to make the Paceman a four-seater because anyone unlucky enough to have to sit in the middle would be wondering what they did wrong in life to be sitting there.

MINI Cooper S Paceman ALL4 68 1

Does it perform like a Mini?

It performs like a Mini. The steering and suspension are set up great when you blast through corners into the Walmart parking lot. Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 producing 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Combined with a 6-speed automatic, it takes 7.3 seconds to go from 0-60 mph which isn’t too bad for a two-door semi-SUV crossover. The downside of being a two-door semi-SUV crossover with AWD is you shouldn’t expect to get more than 24-25 mpg but style does come at a price. And speaking of price…

Big price

The cost of the Paceman I drove was $34,000. A crossover with two doors, no navigation, no back-up camera, no rear sensors, a small trunk and a silly interior costs $34,000. And it’s worth every penny.

Really, worth every penny

If it was about $4,000 less. The Paceman is a great thing. It throws away being a conventional crossover for being a vehicle that is really fun to drive and quite rare. Will Mini ever decide to make another Paceman? I hope not. It’s an interesting concept that should have stayed a concept but Mini decided to do it anyway.

The verdict

Exterior: 5/10

Any four-door SUV/crossover that turns into a two-door instantly looks ridiculous.  The Paceman is the same way.

Interior: 6/10

There are some interesting designs for the buttons but the speedometer is a major letdown.

Performance: 8/10

The Paceman may be the best handling and most fun-to-drive small crossover.

Fuel economy: 7/10

24-25 mpg isn’t bad for a crossover, but the engine is small and I expected a few mpg higher.

Value for money: 5/10

$34,000. European vehicles are never cheap and the Paceman, once again, isn’t an exception.

Total: 6.2

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Is the Paceman pointless? Yes. Would the four-door Countryman make more sense? Yes. Should two-door crossovers be made in the first place? No. Should you buy one? Sure. I mean, basically no one bought one. If you’re looking for an AWD crossover with 13% style and you don’t care how much your friends laugh at you for buying such an expensive vehicle that’s basically a giant Mini, then the Paceman is right for you.

Photos courtesy of MINIUSA.

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