Full 2014 MINI Cooper Paceman Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman gets minor updates to the availability of standard and optional equipment. Notably, all Paceman models can also now be dressed up with option packages that add the John Cooper Works model's styling details without its performance-oriented hardware upgrades.
More than a decade after its humble relaunch with the Cooper hatchback, the Mini auto brand has grown to include more than a half-dozen models, many of which really aren't that mini in their dimensions. One of the latest additions is the 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman. This two-door hatchback/crossover creation beckons buyers who fell in love with the original Cooper's distinctive looks but ultimately decided it was too small for their needs.
Built on the same foundation as the British automaker's largest entry, the four-door Countryman wagon, the Paceman re-creates the Cooper hardtop's iconic shape and sporty driving dynamics on a slightly bigger scale. The Paceman's Mini DNA shines through in its solid handling, precise steering and the satisfying acceleration provided by its available turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Like other Minis, the Paceman offers a long list of available options, from purely aesthetic items like racing stripes to hardware upgrades like all-wheel drive.
Not surprisingly, though, the Paceman also shares some of the Countryman's weaknesses, including an uninspiring base engine, a relatively small cargo hold and a price tag that can stretch rather high when loaded up with options. When you consider that the four-passenger Mini Paceman also costs more than a Countryman while giving you one less seat and two fewer doors, the value proposition gets even more questionable.
Understandably, there are a number of compact crossover and hatchback models that are both more affordable and functional. Examples include sporty crossovers like the 2014 Mazda CX-5, small but still stylish models like the freshly redesigned Kia Soul or performance-oriented hatchbacks like the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI. Near-luxury models like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 can also be had for the cost of a heavily optioned 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman.
Then again, none of those vehicles can match the 2014 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 Paceman.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman is a compact two-door hatchback, though its tall profile also makes it resemble a small crossover SUV. It's offered in three trim levels: base, S and John Cooper Works (JCW). Passenger capacity tops out at four.
Standard equipment on the entry-level Paceman includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, front sport seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, full power accessories, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and USB/iPod auxiliary audio input jacks.
Stepping up to the sportier Paceman S gets you a turbocharged engine, foglights, front sport seats and a dynamic traction mode for the stability control system. Aside from the turbocharged engine, all of these upgrades are offered as options on the base model.
The performance-oriented John Cooper Works Paceman comes with a more powerful version of the same turbocharged engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport exhaust system and unique exterior and interior styling details. The JCW-specific appearance upgrades are now optional on other models.
The Paceman's options list is long and varied, starting with 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, a sport-tuned suspension (for the base and S trim levels), rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, rear parking sensors, chrome exterior accents and keyless entry/ignition. Inside, it's possible to add automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, satellite radio and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The Mini Connected infotainment system includes a display screen built into the car's oversize center-mounted speedometer and provides enhanced Bluetooth and iPod functionality, plus voice commands and smartphone integration (iPhones only). It also serves as the display for the optional navigation system.
Note that many of the above add-ons are part of option packages that must be purchased in combination with one another. The Paceman can be further decked out with special appearance items including exterior graphics and a range of interior color choices.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman base model is a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard, with a six-speed automatic available as an option.
According to Mini, this powertrain will take the Paceman from zero to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds with the manual gearbox, which is subpar for a small wagon. Fuel economy is impressive, however, at 31 mpg combined (28 city/35 highway) with the manual transmission and 27 mpg combined (25 city/30 highway) with the automatic.
The Paceman S gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out a more satisfying 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with an all-wheel-drive system Mini calls ALL4 offered as an option. Transmission choices remain the same.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Paceman S with an automatic transmission sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates for front-wheel-drive models are 29 mpg combined (26/32) with the manual transmission and 28 mpg combined (25/32) with the automatic. With all-wheel drive, those numbers drop slightly to 27 combined (25/31) and 26 combined (23/30) respectively.
The top-of-the-line John Cooper Works model boasts a more potent version of the turbocharged 1.6-liter rated at 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices are unchanged, but all-wheel drive is standard here. Mini says the JCW Paceman will hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds with either transmission. EPA fuel economy numbers are identical to those of the all-wheel-drive S model.
Standard safety equipment on the 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.
The S and John Cooper Works trim levels add a dynamic traction control feature (available as an option on base models) designed for spirited driving. In this mode, the stability control system doesn't intervene as often, but will step in whenever necessary to act as a safety net. Rear parking sensors are optional across the Paceman lineup.
In Edmunds testing, a Paceman S with summer performance tires stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet. That's a decent distance, but many sporting hatchbacks with summer-rated tires stop a good deal shorter.
Interior Design and Special Features
Though you'd think the 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman's larger overall dimensions would make for a much more practical interior, the results are a mixed bag.
On the upside, the cabin does feel noticeably roomier than the Cooper hatchback's, especially in back where the two rear bucket seats offer a generous amount of legroom. However, those bucket seats hold seating capacity to four compared with five in the 2014 Countryman, which has a rear bench seat. In addition, the sloping roof line eats into rear-seat headroom, and the lack of rear doors can make getting in and out of the back challenging. Fold down the rear seatbacks and you'll find just 38.1 cubic feet of open space, which is considerably less room than you'll find in most other compact crossovers and hatchbacks.
The optional Mini Connected electronics interface packs in 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, which 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.
On the road, the 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman offers the same endearing qualities as Mini's smaller models. Most shoppers will be pleased by the car's agile handling, precise steering and lively acceleration -- provided you're driving a Mini Paceman with one of the turbocharged engines. The six-speed manual transmission is a fine choice if you like shifting your own gears, but the optional automatic should suit the majority of buyers just fine. Although the non-turbo engine in the base Mini Cooper Paceman is impressively fuel-efficient, its sluggish performance is uninspiring and we highly recommend making the stretch to the Cooper S Paceman.
Although the Cooper S and JCW Paceman models are a lot of fun during spirited drives, they're less satisfying during routine trips around town and on the highway. The steering can feel overly heavy and twitchy, and the ride quality is distractingly busy and firm on rough pavement. Sticking with the smaller 17-inch wheels helps minimize this latter issue. Depending on your route to work, you may also find that tire noise is overly intrusive in the Paceman.