Mini Paceman Cooper S
Despite utilising the most ancient and best-known manufacturing trick of welding up an existing model’s rear doors for a sportier vibe, Mini is punting its Paceman as the sole inhabitant of an exciting new niche. As a ‘sports activity coupe’, the crossover is intended to hoover up the modish urban buyer caught between the now aged Mini and more familial Countryman. Its market point is possible to discern if you squint a bit but, unfortunately for BMW, admiring the Paceman’s laboured redesign requires an unreasonable degree of further facial contortion.
Raking the roof and reworking the tailgate of the lumpy Countryman make theoretical sense, but the reallife result is as genetically muddled as a germinating tumour. Such a subjective appraisal would usually be beneath us, but so shallow is the Paceman‘s appeal that without a stylistic trump card to play, its rationale flounders. It’s inevitably less practical than the Countryman, with less rear headroom and fewer seats (there’s not even the option of a rear bench), and it is far more expensive.
That’s regrettable because, dynamically at least, the model is a slim improvement on its bulkier sibling – although perhaps not in the way you might expect. Despite dipping 10mm lower to the floor courtesy of standard sports suspension, the Paceman seems to accommodate battered roads slightly better than the notoriously wayward Countryman, while marginally tighter body control allows more Mini-typical liberties to be taken with the very quick steering.
Teamed in this instance with the unchanged l82bhp 1.6-litre Cooper S engine (all powertrains are carried over), the two-wheel-drive car makes suburban sorties a cinch. But an agreeable behind-the-wheel experience is insufficient to gloss over the Paceman’s conspicuous sins.