2013 MINI Cooper Paceman Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
I drove both the Cooper S Paceman and the Cooper S ALL4 Paceman models.
The tight ride and quick steering everybody loves about MINI is strongly in evidence here. However, compared to the Cooper Hardtop, the Paceman feels (as you might well imagine due to its larger size and elevated ride height) a bit more ponderous.
That said, compared to every other car in its competitive set, the Paceman feels quite sprightly with both front-drive and all-wheel drive. Body roll is minimal, turn-in is reasonably sharp, and braking is first rate. The manual transmission could use a better system for locking out reverse since the shift pattern makes it so accessible, but if you’re careful, it isn’t a significant problem. The automatic shifts quickly and true, with no lag between gears. It also offers a shift-it-yourself option, which I put to good use on the narrow mountain roads to which our test drive route subjected the car. With it, manual shifts are both responsive and crisp for both upshifts and downshifts..
Ride quality is good overall, but as we stated before the MINI is a tight riding little car. If you’re looking for something cushy along the lines of a Corolla, you’d best go to the Toyota store. MINI builds cars for people who love to drive, and those people understand the tradeoff for crisp handling is a slightly stiffer ride.
There was a bit more wind noise than I’d have expected from a car that feels as solid as the Paceman does when you slam the doors. However, this has long been a trait of the MINI species of motorcars.
The turbocharged 1.6 is adequate. Things heat up a bit when the sport button is engaged, advancing the throttle response on all models and the transmission response on automatic-equipped models. In all honesty though, I don’t expect any MINI to pin my ears back. However, my consequent drive of the Cooper GP Works car found its 211 horsepower engine to be more along the lines of satisfying — approaching exhilarating, as opposed to adequate — approaching satisfying.
This is not to say the Paceman is slow, or even lacking, by any means. It’s just, for my tastes, the MINI would be whole lot more fun with another 50 to 60 horsepower at hand (or, more precisely, at foot).