Used 2015 MINI Cooper Paceman John Cooper Works ALL4 Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman offers distinctive style, sharp handling and decent passenger space, but it's expensive for what you get. If you're not smitten with its personality, you'll find plenty of practical alternatives that offer better value.
What's new for 2015
If you love the distinctive styling of Mini's two-door hatchback (the Hardtop) but want a little more room and elevation, the 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman may be just the thing. Essentially a two-door version of the Mini Cooper Countryman crossover, the Paceman retains that charming Mini styling, but it's about 10 inches longer and 4 inches taller than the humble hatchback. That translates into significantly more rear passenger room, though only slightly more cargo space. Like the Countryman, the Paceman also offers all-wheel drive on higher trim levels.
The Paceman's Mini DNA shines through in its confident handling, precise steering and the satisfying acceleration provided by its available turbocharged engines. As with other Minis, you can get the Paceman in base trim, as a more spirited S model, or with the high-performance John Cooper Works package. All feature fairly frugal fuel economy and a long list of options, providing lots of potential for customization. Because the Paceman is derived from the previous-generation Cooper platform, however, it's saddled with a weak-kneed base four-cylinder engine that generates just 118 horsepower, whereas the current Cooper Hardtop gets 134 hp and a lot more torque from its base turbocharged three-cylinder mill.
The Paceman's interior is similarly a generation behind, and it suffers from the funky oversized speedometer, form-over-function controls and not-as-up-to-date infotainment system. That also means that the Paceman's advantage in cargo capacity isn't what it used to be. Compared with the current two-door hatchback, the Paceman provides just 4 more cubic feet of maximum luggage space. At least the rear bucket seats remain significantly roomier than the hatchback's rear quarters, though having only two doors makes ingress and egress more challenging than they need to be.
Unless you're truly enthralled by the Paceman's design, it's worth taking a look at some other compact models that are more functional. Crossovers like the 2015 Ford Escape and 2015 Mazda CX-5, for example, are still pretty sporty and give you four doors and much larger cabins. Performance-oriented "hot hatches" like the 2015 Ford Focus ST and 2015 Volkswagen GTI will also put a smile on your face for a reasonable price, and they're bigger inside than the Mini as well. If standout styling is important, you might want to check out the 2015 Nissan Juke, while the accomplished 2015 BMW X1 can be had for the cost of a heavily optioned Paceman.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman is a two-door, four-passenger compact hatchback that rides high compared with ordinary Mini models. It's available in base, Cooper S, Cooper S ALL4 and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels.
The base Paceman comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, automatic climate control, six-way manually adjustable front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, cruise control, color-adjustable ambient interior lighting, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button ignition, a chilled glovebox, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Cooper S version adds a turbocharged engine, different exterior trim, dynamic traction control (bundled with an electronic limited-slip differential), LED foglights and sport front seats. The latter three items are also available as options on the base model. The Cooper S ALL4 adds all-wheel drive.
The high-performance John Cooper Works model is similar to the Cooper S ALL4, but features a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension (optional on the base and S versions), cloth upholstery and special styling details.
A long list of options -- both stand-alone and within packages -- provide endless possibilities for customizing the Paceman. Highlights include 18- or 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, satellite radio, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and a wide variety of exterior and interior trim pieces, graphics and color themes.
Also available is the Mini Connected infotainment system, which features a 6.5-inch display inside the central speedometer, a corresponding console-mounted joystick, voice controls and smartphone-app integration. A navigation system can be added to the Mini Connected package at additional cost.
Performance & mpg
The base version of the 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 121 hp and 118 pound-feet of torque. It can be matched with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic, with power going to the front wheels.
Mini estimates that the base Paceman accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds with the manual transmission and 10.8 seconds with the automatic, which is subpar for a premium small hatchback. In cheerier news, EPA fuel economy estimates peg the manual-transmission Paceman at a satisfying 30 mpg combined (27 city/34 highway), though the automatic is significantly worse at 27 mpg combined (25 city/30 highway).
For more zip, you can move up to the Cooper S Paceman, which uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that delivers 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The S ALL4 version provides all-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Paceman S with the automatic transmission sprinted from zero to 60 mph in a more satisfying 7.2 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Cooper S remains quite strong. The front-wheel-drive S is rated at 29 mpg combined (26/32) with the manual transmission, and the automatic version is barely thirstier at 28 mpg combined (25/32). The ALL4 version checks in at 27 mpg combined (25/31) with the manual and 26 mpg combined (23/30) with the automatic.
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. All-wheel drive is standard. Mini says the JCW Paceman will hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds with either transmission. EPA fuel economy estimates are the same as for the S ALL4.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a front-passenger knee airbag. Rear parking sensors are optional across the Paceman lineup.
Dynamic traction control (DTC) is standard on the S and JCW models and optional on the base Paceman. When this mode is activated, the stability control system becomes more permissive, though it will still step in when necessary to act as a safety net. If you turn DTC off, the included electronic limited-slip differential remains in effect to optimize traction and prevent the inside wheel from spinning during cornering.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Paceman S with summer tires stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, a disappointingly long distance for a sporting hatchback with performance rubber.
The nonturbo engine in the base 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman is a letdown, with sluggish performance that takes the shine off its solid fuel economy. Unless price is your highest priority, we recommend moving up to the more spirited Cooper S or JCW Paceman, as the lively acceleration of their turbocharged engines better complements the Mini experience. While the standard six-speed manual is an entertaining piece if you like shifting your own gears, the smooth optional automatic should suit most buyers just fine.
On winding roads, the 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman is great fun to drive, mostly providing the agile handling and precise steering of Mini's smaller models. But during routine trips around town and on the highway, the steering of the Cooper S and JCW Paceman models can feel overly heavy and twitchy, and the ride quality is distractingly busy and firm on rough pavement. The S trim's smaller 17-inch wheels mitigate the latter issue (the JCW comes standard with 18s). You may also find that tire noise is overly intrusive in the Paceman.
The 2015 Mini Cooper Paceman's cabin is a mixed bag in terms of accommodations. The front passenger compartment is noticeably airier than in the Hardtop hatchback and similar to that of the Countryman, although with a little less headroom. The rear bucket seats offer a generous amount of legroom, about 3 inches more than in the Hardtop. Like the Hardtop, though, the Paceman can carry only four people, compared with five in the Countryman. In addition, the sloping roof line eats into rear-seat headroom, and the lack of rear doors complicates getting in and out.
With the rear seatbacks up, luggage space is a surprisingly paltry 11.7 cubic feet, while folding down the rear seatbacks opens up a still-modest 38.1 cubic feet. The current Hardtop gives you 8.7 and 34.0 cubes, respectively, so the Paceman doesn't have much to show for its greater size. The only rival we've mentioned that has comparable cargo limitations is the Nissan Juke.
The Paceman's interior is dressed with distinctive styling flourishes that will be familiar to previous-generation Mini owners, including an oversized speedometer located in the center of the dash. But the Paceman is also stuck with small and sometimes frustrating controls that value form over function, and the Mini Connected infotainment system's 6.5-inch display screen pales in comparison to the current Hardtop's available 8.8-inch display. This system's controller knob is also too small and fiddly to use, though you do get a lot of functionality here, including voice recognition and smartphone app integration.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.