Full 2013 MINI Cooper Paceman Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman is an all-new model. This tall hatchback creation is one of the rare two-door crossovers offered for sale in the U.S.
Mini has expanded its lineup yet again, and the 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman represents its most spacious coupe offering to date. The all-new Paceman is fundamentally a two-door version of the Mini Countryman. This tall hatchback/crossover is meant to capture the hearts and minds of consumers who feel that a regular hardtop Cooper or Clubman is too small or that the Countryman is too SUV-ish.
Mechanically, the Countryman and the Paceman are very similar, though the Paceman is the sportier of the two models. It rides a bit closer to the ground, for example, and there are subtle styling differences, including a lower roof line, a more raked tailgate, swollen rear quarter panels and blacked-out roof pillars, all of which give it a tougher look. Although the 2013 Mini Paceman isn't as nimble as the regular Cooper, it's still very fun to drive, with quick steering and brisk acceleration when equipped with either of the turbocharged engines. You can also get it with all-wheel drive, something that isn't offered on smaller Coopers. Of course, Mini offers a wide range of customization possibilities for it as well.
Unfortunately, the 2013 Mini Paceman suffers from many of the downsides that affect the Countryman, including slow acceleration with the base engine and a price that rises to luxury-brand levels when tempting, big-ticket options are added. You should also keep in mind that unlike the Countryman, the Mini Paceman doesn't have a rear bench seat option, so seating capacity tops out at four.
It's safe to say that you'll find cheaper and more practical transportation in the form of traditional crossovers like the 2014 Mazda CX-5 or performance hatchbacks like the 2013 Ford Focus ST or 2013 Volkswagen GTI and Golf R. On the high end, you could get into a more prestigious BMW X1 for about what it costs for a loaded Paceman.
Then again, none of those vehicles can match the 2013 Mini Paceman's style and personality. If you truly want a big Mini Cooper hatchback, or you just like the idea of a crossover with only two doors, we can still recommend the new Paceman.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman is a compact two-door hatchback, though its tall ride height also gives it the appearance of a small crossover SUV. It's available in base, S and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels.
The base Paceman comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, front sport seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and USB/iPod auxiliary audio jacks.
The Paceman S adds a turbocharged engine, foglights, sport seats and a dynamic traction mode for the stability control system. Other than the turbocharged engine, all of these items are available as options on the base model.
The John Cooper Works has a more powerful version of the turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport exhaust system and special interior styling details.
Options are plentiful for all varieties of the 2013 Mini Paceman. Available exterior and mechanical upgrades include 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, a sport-tuned suspension (for the base and S trim levels), rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, chrome exterior accents and roof rails. Inside, the Paceman can be ordered with automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery, satellite radio and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Another option, the Mini Connected interface, takes up residence in the car's oversize center-mounted speedometer and provides enhanced Bluetooth and iPod functionality, plus smartphone integration (iPhones only). It also serves as the display for the optional navigation system when that's equipped. Keep in mind that many of these extras are package options that must be purchased in combination with one another. The Paceman can be further customized with special body graphics and a range of interior color schemes.
Powertrains and Performance
The base 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman uses a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The engine powers the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
According to Mini, the base Paceman accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds with the manual gearbox, which is subpar for a small wagon. Fuel economy is impressive, though, at 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. The automatic-transmission version returns 25/30/27 mpg.
The Paceman S uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, which produces 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The S is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (called ALL4), and you have your choice of either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission on both versions.
In Edmunds testing, we managed to hustle a front-drive Paceman S with an automatic transmission to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. Expect slightly quicker acceleration with the manual but slower acceleration if you choose one of the ALL4 models, as the all-wheel-drive system weighs the car down a bit.
Mini estimates fuel economy for the front-drive Paceman S to be 26 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. Selecting all-wheel drive or the automatic drops these numbers1-2 mpg.
At the top of the line, the John Cooper Works Paceman features an upgraded version of the S model's turbocharged engine that generates 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque (with 207 lb-ft available via an overboost function that comes on during full-throttle acceleration). The same transmissions are offered, but all-wheel drive is now standard. Mini says the JCW Paceman will hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds with either transmission. Expect fuel economy on par with the S ALL4 models.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.
The S and John Cooper Works models add a dynamic traction control feature (optional on the base 2013 Mini Paceman) that's useful during spirited drives on back roads. In this mode, the stability control system won't intervene quite as early, but there's still a safety net in place if things get out of hand. Rear parking sensors are optional on all versions of the Paceman.
In Edmunds testing, a Paceman S with run-flat tires stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is good for a vehicle like this.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Mini Paceman offers significantly more interior space than the standard Mini Cooper hatchback. It provides 38.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down versus 24 cubic feet even in the standard hatch. That said, the Paceman is still pretty small compared with most other hatchbacks and crossover SUVs. If you regularly haul large items, you can find better options in this price range.
The interior of the Paceman is similar to the Countryman, though there are a few small changes: The window switches have moved from the center console to the doors, for example. Rear seat space is pretty much the same, with just a small drop in rear headroom. However, there's no bench seat option, so only two people can ride in the rear bucket seats. In addition, the loss of the rear doors makes getting in and out of the backseat more difficult.
The optional Mini Connected electronics interface packs a lot of functionality, with iPhone smartphone app integration providing features such as Internet radio and social media access. Unfortunately, some of the relevant functions require the car to be parked to access, and using Mini Connected can be tricky due to the car's control layout that looks good but is difficult to use. Mini's adjustable center storage rail system is another example of form over function, as it doesn't offer much storage capability but takes up quite a bit of interior space.
If you've ever piloted the Cooper hatchback, the 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman will feel familiar. Though it's a bit slower and less nimble, the Paceman retains many of the hatch's best traits, including the sporty, precise steering, the distinctive turbo soundtrack (on S and JCW models) and, yes, the sometimes too-firm ride. We recommend staying with the 17-inch wheels if you're concerned about ride quality.
While the base Paceman is nimble and light on its feet, it's far from quick. Unless fuel economy is your overriding priority, we'd recommend the more energetic S and JCW models, which are easier to drive in expressway traffic and ultimately a lot more fun. Most buyers will be perfectly happy with the automatic transmission, but if you like manual transmissions, you'll no doubt enjoy the mechanical feel of changing gears in the Paceman.