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Mini Ramps Up the Pace

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author photo by Autotrader December 2010

It’s hard to keep up with Mini. One minute, the company is unveiling the 2011 Countryman all-wheel-drive compact SUV. The next, it’s revealing details on a new concept in a fresh, custom-made niche.

This is the Paceman, a “sports activity coupe” (Mini’s wording) for the small premium segment. It’s more or less a Countryman without the rear passenger doors. “In contrast to the more vertical design of the Countryman, we’ve given the Paceman concept a horizontal emphasis and accentuated the width of the car more,” said Marcus Syring, head of Mini exterior design.

The glass areas wrap around the car and then taper at the rear for a wedge effect. Meanwhile, the roof – painted in a contrasting color – seems suspended. Mini calls this the “helmet roof.” The interior has the usual large round central speedometer, plus the same kind of “center rail” that goes between the front and rear seats as the Countryman.

Locomotion comes from an engine already well known and well loved in the Mini range: the twin-turbo 1.6-liter four found in the John Cooper Works models. It makes 211 horsepower and has an overboost function for occasional access to 207 pound-feet of torque. In common with the Countryman, this concept sports All4, Mini’s all-wheel drive system. During normal driving, 100 percent of the power goes to the front wheels, but 50 percent may be sent to the rears in extreme conditions, via an electromagnetic center differential.

The Paceman concept will make its debut at the 2011 Detroit auto show in early January and there’s every reason to take it seriously as a future production model, since Mini already has the low-roofed Coupe and Roadster models under development. And they started life as concepts.

Just for good measure, Mini’s brand chief, Wolfgang Armbrecht, says the company is considering a smaller vehicle than the current normal Mini. He told the German edition of the Financial Times that “we have always been motivated by the idea to build a small, spacious car.”

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Used 2011 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Hardtop
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Used 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman
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Used 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Mini Ramps Up the Pace - Autotrader