As a style statement, the 2013 MINI Paceman is pretty cool, with its sleek window line, clean body sides and muscular fenders. It definitely wears the MINI-on-steroids look better than the slightly awkward Countryman. And no matter the size, you won't mistake it for anything else. But if you're looking for practicality, the Paceman probably isn't for you.
While MINI casts the Paceman as a crossover, it does not feel as spacious, tall or practical as something like the Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape. The Paceman's interior does feel much bigger than that of the regular MINI, but in terms of cargo space and interior roominess, it's still on the mini side, pardon the pun.
Getting in and out sure is easy, at least for the front-seat occupants, since the tall-ish body puts the seats at perfect slide-in height. Getting in back requires the usual slide-seat-and-duck-under-seat-belt process. Once installed, though, two adults will find plenty of space in their own individual buckets. Our tester was equipped with the full-length center rail, a feature that bisects the interior front-to-rear with hip-looking tunnel-style storage/armrest with integrated cup holders. This makes it difficult to slide across the rear seat if two passengers are getting in on one side, but such is the price of style.
Our test car also came with metallic paint, leatherette seats, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and starting and the Premium Package 2, which contains automatic headlamps, folding heated exterior mirrors, Harman Kardon speakers, automatic climate control and park distance control. As such, it felt well equipped, though for its $35,545 price the Paceman's whimsical interior design (huge round speedometer, Mickey Mouse-ear air vents, etc.) starts looking sophomoric, as tested.
While every 2013 MINI Paceman is fun to look at, the performance-oriented S model is even more fun to drive. Our test car came with a 6-speed manual transmission, and with its superb steering, all-wheel-drive grip (hence the All4 designation) and road-hugging suspension, the Paceman S really brought out the driver in us. The turbocharged engine makes a healthy 181 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque -- just enough to motivate it with enthusiasm for back-road shenanigans but not so much power that it'll get away from you the way similarly priced muscle cars can. Besides, at high speeds, the loud interior and brittle ride may prompt you to slow down to a more sensible pace.
So what's the point? Has anyone been clamoring for a whimsically styled, 2-door crossover? Not really. But for individualists who love to drive, occasionally like to take their friends on adventures and have a soft spot in their hearts for adorably designed, plus-sized, well-built British coupes, the 2013 MINI Paceman S might just fit the bill.