2013 Mini Cooper Paceman S 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4-cyl. Turbo FWD 6-speed Auto)
Driven On 5/14/2013
Another flavor of Mini means there are more ways to enjoy driving. However, the best case against the Paceman is found elsewhere in the Mini family. This peppy and responsive 2-door hatch 'tweener is frenetic, expensive, harsh riding, ergonomically challenging, and isn't as convenient as the 4-door Countryman.
PerformanceUp to the above-average performance standards one expects of a Mini, especially the turbo-charged S version. Good acceleration, braking, handling, and driveability.
The Paceman S provides enthusiastic acceleration even with the automatic transmission. The turbocharged 1.6-liter is torquey and smooth.
Although consistent and trustworthy, our tests revealed a slightly long stop from 60 mph. Predictable everyday response even if panic-stop distances are long.
The Paceman S's steering is supremely direct and precise, but it's also quite heavy and twitchy.
Our tests showed the summer tires prove their worth. The Paceman is grippy and responsive and fast for its class.
The Paceman's ride suffers for its handling, and this translates to a jumpy throttle and somewhat abrupt braking. Takes effort to drive.
ComfortThe Mini Cooper Paceman S is a mixed bag of comfort: supportive bucket seats, but just four; good handling at the expense of ride comfort; quiet at speed, but tires create their own noise.
We approve of the sporty bucket seats for their support and adjustability. It's odd that the Paceman only seats four, though.
The sporty suspension and tires give the Paceman a very busy ride. Minor road-surface impacts become major events throughout cabin.
Decent aerodynamics provide a cabin largely immune from wind noise, however, there is road noise from the sticky summer tires. Engine note is prevalanet, but not overwhelming.
InteriorMini has a reputation for quirky interiors, and the Paceman maintains and extends the bad ideas of previous Mini vehicles with unintuitive displays, out of reach switches and an awkward center rail system.
Toggle switches inside of protective hoops are an odd novelty that add no useful value. The dainty stalk-mounted infotainment controller has a steep learning curve.
Two large and heavy doors are convenient only in wide-open spaces. Manual front seats do feature a memory return mechanism, but ingress/egress to rear is still tight.
There is a boxy openness to the interior of the Paceman that is compromised by the center rail system. This cuts into space and makes the cabin feel cramped.
Xenon headlamps and parking sensors (rear only) are optional, but no camera is available. Relatively high seating position gives good over-hood sightlines.
With 16.5 cu-ft of nominal capacity (like a compact sedan) and about 42 cu-ft of max cargo room (compact SUV), the Paceman hatchback is a decent hauler.
ValueIt's when you start to cross shop the Paceman against its price and utility that you begin to see that its value is questionable. In fact, one can make a case to buy either a smaller Cooper or larger Countryman as a better buy.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Mini vehicles have always shown a high build quality, though some plastics feel hollow and cheap for the price.
There is a long list of optional packages and stand-alone features that many others include as standard or trim-level standard. It's easy to inflate MSRP by $10,000 with options.
With a starting price of around $25,000 (about $1,000 more than the four-door Countryman) it's hard to see a pricing rationale here with the Paceman.
We failed to achieve the EPA fuel economy estimate of 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway with our Paceman S 6-speed automatic. Exercise extreme prudence, and it might happen.
With a Basic/Powertrain warranty of 4 years/50,000 miles and 4 years of unlimited Roadside Assistance, the warranty terms are competitive.
Free scheduled maintenance is covered for 3 years/36,000 miles, which is unusual for this class. Also, the unspoken camaraderie among Mini owners is palpable.
Fun To DriveDespite its inherent liabilities, the Mini Paceman S provides a particular kind of driver an undeniably fun-to-drive alternative to other similarly-sized hatchbacks.
Because of its single-minded focus on go-cart response in everything it does, driving the Paceman S every day can grow tiresome.
The Paceman S's personality is perhaps its greatest asset. Its willingness and ability to be driven with gusto breathe life into this era of econoboxes.