Mini Paceman JCW

Birth of a New Class

It was a normal day at ArabWheels and I was desperate for some action. I am about to receive a Mini Cooper. Hell that's good, but not enough. There is more; it's a John Cooper Works edition. Yea, I've driven one, but what's new? It's an AWD Mini vaguely called a crossover, a 2 door hatch or a big sport Mini. A model which came out of unconditional terms and that goes well with Mini's current campaign which says, "NOT NORMAL". Yes, it's a Mini JCW Paceman.

The Countryman that came out two years ago was itself a statement: that Mini under BMW isn't shy to broaden its own lineup. Paceman joins the lot being the seventh member and the most expensive one too. While we concluded that the Countryman is a family car, here my challenge is to see the purpose of a JCW Paceman.

Driving Impressions
A quick round up. It's a 2 door version of a Countryman, the same length but with some extra punch. We see the attractive Chili Red roof sprawl down to the rear side as opposed to the flat roof of the Countryman - a bit of chopping has been done. That ends with a roof spoiler. On the front side, I see the usual swollen figures as in any Mini with an open grille and two air vents. Door handles are chrome plated and we see more chrome bezels around the rear lights and headlights. Side skirts end in track-style air vents and the Sport's exhaust tailpipe completes the JCW edition of the Paceman.

No real surprises inside, as all are same. The big round speedometer at the center we barely mind to check, some plastic switches to control the A/C, a good looking retro set of switches in the center stack and on the ceiling close to the rearview mirror. Steering wheel was leather wrapped with a three spoke design and John Cooper Works badge. Gear lever stands up alone as if it's a manual. Sport seats in carbon black diagonal track with contrasting stitches in Chili Red look great and hold you comfy. There was just about enough space at the rear with bucket seats to accommodate. Head room is compromised and we know the reason - remember, the roof was chopped!

Now let's see the engine side. A torque of 280 Nm between 2,100 and 4,500 rpm for a small car is a striking figure and that comes out of a twin-scroll turbocharger in-line 4, 1.6 liter engine that delivers 218hp at 600rpm. That's a good improvement from a Mini Paceman Cooper S which at its best can shoot 184hp. The body rolls on a set of beautiful 18'' twin spoke alloy wheels with eye catching red brake calipers. Onto the safety department, we've got Dynamic Stability Control and ASC for traction that prevents the front wheels from spinning.

Countryman did a decent job on odd roads and our tester Paceman was the same. It is fast and the extra ground clearance keeps it craving all the time for a new challenge. The car is stiff and balanced in many ways. "All4" gets the AWD system, and distributes the engine power equally to the front and rear axles. It's got a good hold on the road with excellent traction to offer, thanks to All4 and the multi-link rear axle. I felt the same at corners whilst a little body roll can be adjusted with proper application of acceleration and steer turn. Steering had a firm action and that reflected on the way it behaved: precise. In Sport mode, turbo kicks in with a cracker note - an offshoot of optimized gas routing out though sports exhaust and a great air filter system to improve power delivery. Brakes were excellent and they needed to be. So here's a car where the driver can have all the fun but not so much for passengers in the rear seats.

Verdict
It was a fun drive with some action thanks to the amazing grip and hasty punch which left me awake all the time. Nice car, pricey too, but at this point am yet to find a suitable category. It's not for a family and not a traditional "mini" Mini. The 2-door class doesn't take me close to the Range Rover Evoque either as size doesn't match. So here we see it again, the birth of a new class, never on demand by the public but somehow sits in the showroom. I think I know the reason - coz it's "NOT NORMAL" as they say.

Specification

Year: 2013
Engine Cylinder: i4
Displacement: 1.6 liter Twin-turbo charged
Power: 218 hp
Torque: 280 Nm
Transmission Type: 6 Speed Automatic
Drive: AWD

Performance

0-100: 7 Sec
Top Speed: 225 kph
Fuel Efficiency: 7.9 liters/100km

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