Used 2016 MINI Cooper Paceman Hatchback Review
You may be intrigued by the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman if you are in the market for a unique compact coupe. Think of it as a high-riding version of the Mini hatchback. That means it's sporty and fun, with plenty of personality. Read on to see if this out-of-the-box coupe is right for you.
Mini isn't shy about building slightly different versions of pretty much the same car, and the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman is a prime example. While following the basic silhouette of the previous-generation Cooper hatchback on which it's based, the Paceman is roughly 15 inches longer and 4.5 inches taller than its progenitor. The result is elevated seating for all, plus a welcome injection of legroom for a pair of backseat passengers. Unlike in the Paceman's four-door Countryman sibling, however, those rear passengers will need an uncommon level of agility to get in and out with anything resembling grace.
At a glance, the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman may not look that different from the familiar Countryman crossover, but it's got a two-door character all its own.
As such, the Paceman isn't the most practical Mini, nor is it the most athletic. Still, the sport-tuned suspension delivers crisp handling that's enhanced by spot-on steering feel, minimizing the typical vagueness of a crossover despite the elevated driving perch. Thanks to its Countryman genes, the Paceman offers all-wheel drive as an option, setting it apart from most other two-door models that shoppers might consider. Acceleration from the turbocharged Cooper S and John Cooper Works models is always lively, though the base version's anemic 121-horsepower engine just doesn't have enough juice to move this big hatchback about with anything resembling enthusiasm.
Inside, it's clear that the Paceman is a holdover from the previous Mini generation. The oversize center-mounted speedometer and style-over-substance switchgear have begun to look a little dated. The growth spurt of the current, third-generation Cooper hardtop has also moved the two cars closer in regards to cargo space, as the Paceman now offers only 4 more cubic feet of cargo space. The takeaway is that in today's marketplace, the 2016 Paceman is a mixed bag, delivering plenty of distinctive Mini character but also suffering from age-related quirks.
With these downsides in mind, we'd encourage you to check out more traditional compact crossovers like the 2016 Ford Escape and 2016 Mazda CX-5, both of which still offer a sporty driving experience along with four doors and significantly larger cabins. You could also look at the new breed of subcompact crossovers, such as the Fiat 500X and Mazda CX-3, or the new Hyundai Tucson, which offers fresh style in an in-between size. If it's maximum grins-per-mile you seek, the 2016 Ford Focus ST and 2016 Volkswagen GTI are great performers, reasonably priced and roomier inside than the Paceman.
Nonetheless, the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman is unabashedly a niche offering. If the idea of a high-stepping hatchback coupe with plenty of flair is what you want, this Mini is just the thing.
How you customize your Mini is up to you, but we'd use the Paceman Cooper S as a jumping-off point. The base engine provides fairly underwhelming acceleration.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman is a two-door, four-passenger compact hatchback that rides higher than ordinary Mini models. It's available in base, Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels. Mini's ALL4 all-wheel-drive system is optional on Cooper S and standard on JCW.
The entry-level Paceman comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, push-button ignition, automatic climate control, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats, cruise control, color-adjustable ambient interior lighting, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a chilled glovebox, split-folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The cabin of the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman dates back to the previous-generation Mini lineup. It looks cool, but it also has its fair share of ergonomic issues.
Step up to the Cooper S and you get different exterior trim, a turbocharged engine, dynamic traction control (bundled with an electronic limited-slip differential), LED foglights and sport front seats. 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), special styling details and cloth upholstery.
A long list of options, including many of the items that come standard in the higher trims, provides seemingly endless opportunities 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 and power-folding side mirrors, 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 a Media package that adds 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 for an additional fee.
performance & mpg
The base version of the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 121 hp and 118 pound-feet of torque. It comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic, both of which send power 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 29 mpg combined (27 city/32 highway), though the automatic is notably 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 Cooper 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.
The Cooper S Paceman's huge performance gains come with almost no penalty at the gas pump. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive Cooper S is 29 mpg combined (26/32) with the manual transmission, and the automatic version is actually thriftier than its non-turbocharged counterpart 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 up to 192 lb-ft of torque (up to 207 lb-ft using the overboost function). 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 on the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman 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.
On the road, the 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman is underwhelming when fitted with the base model's 1.6-liter engine. Even if you're initially attracted to its strong EPA fuel economy estimates, it's a safe bet that you'll much prefer driving the more powerful Cooper S or John Cooper Works model. Enthusiasts will gravitate toward the engaging six-speed manual gearbox, but the smooth automatic that's offered as an option is a satisfying solution for the clutch-averse.
The 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman's larger dimensions create more rear seat legroom, but not as much additional cargo room as you might expect.
Driven with verve, the Cooper Paceman handles curving stretches of asphalt with much the same reassuring responsiveness found in Mini's smaller models. In everyday driving, however, the steering effort of the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models is overly heavy in parking lots and other common low-speed situations. The ride is also a little harsh and busy, especially with the JCW's 18-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension. Finally, tire noise can sometimes intrude into the cabin to a bothersome degree.
The 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman's front seats are noticeably roomier than those in the Cooper hardtop. The seating position isn't quite as elevated as in the four-door Countryman, but it's close, giving the Paceman an unusually high-riding feel for a two-door hatchback. Because the rear passengers don't have their own doors, ingress and egress can be a challenge, but there's a respectable amount of passenger space back there once you're settled.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the Paceman's interior is pure Mini, with all the distinctive elements made famous by the previous-generation lineup. That includes the oversized center-mounted speedometer and the shiny toggle switches, among other prominent styling decisions. The downside, of course, is that the underlying functionality often leaves something to be desired. The current, third-generation Mini cars have overhauled interiors with relatively straightforward ergonomics and improved materials, so the Paceman is a throwback, for better or worse.
When it comes to hauling stuff, the Paceman's cargo hold offers a mere 11.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and just 38.1 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. Compare that with the current Cooper hatchback model, which sports 8.7 and 34.0 cubic feet respectively, and you can see that the Paceman's greater size isn't as much of an advantage as it used to be.
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.