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First Drive Review: 2013 Mini John Cooper Works Paceman S ALL4 By Henny Hemmes

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Mini JCW Paceman S ALL4 At Speed

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

Mini Paceman S ALL4  (select to view enlarged photo)

FRANKFURT, March 28, 2013. When Mini unveiled the Paceman, the public opinion was divided and the Mini community was not exactly excited: why would you need a Countryman with only two doors and less room for rear passengers? In fact, that is basically what it is and Mini does not mince matters.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

The brand calls the Paceman an SAV, sports activity vehicle, a description that mother BMW used for the first time in 1999 for the X5 and in the meantime is a nomenclature for all BMW X models to emphasize the sports-car like on-road abilities for crossovers.

Anyway, the Paceman’s styling is not weird in the sense that it reflects that of the award winning RangeRover Evoque (but smaller).

By developing the fastest Paceman model, Mini did not have to make large investments and could just take parts out of the Countryman warehouse.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

But the JCW Paceman is a bit quicker, lighter and more active looking than the JCW Countryman. It also sits half an inch lower on the (standard) sport suspension than the JCW Countryman and is 1.7 inches lower in height. Our test cars were fitted with winter tires (205/55/R17), which are mandatory in Germany in wintertime. Standard they come with 18-inch wheels and 224/45 R18 tires.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

The fastest Paceman is equipped with the familiar 1.6-liter engine that also powers the other JCW models. It produces 218 hp and 206 pound-feet of torque from 1900-5000 rpm (221 lb-ft in overboost mode at 2100-4500 rpm)

The four-cylinder turbo engine works together with the six-speed manual Getrag transmission, which has been reinforced to meet the output of the power plant. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel is available as an option. Just like the JCW Countryman, the JCW Paceman has standard Mini’s All4 all-wheel-drive.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

In other words, the Mini John Cooper Works Paceman All4 was well prepared for our first test drive from the Frankfurt airport into the forests of the low mountains close by. Well prepared also, to deal with the slippery roads that were not covered by snow anymore, but had some ice patches here and there.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

With the roads inviting us to a dynamic drive, there was the instant reward of enjoying the JCW for its willingness to react to input on the throttle, getting into overboost as soon as you floor it.

The electronic power steering gear (EPC) feels solid and engaging and when we hit an unexpected icy part in a curve and the Mini gets into oversteer, it is easy to quickly get it back on track again. The manual transmission works fine and shifting is easy and quick.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

Of course, the JCW also invites you to use the Sport button, for a more solid steering feel, ‘shorter’ travel of the throttle and a racy blob-blob sound from the exhaust when you lift off the gas. The JCW Paceman hurries from 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 140 mph. Overtaking is also a piece of cake: from 50-75 mph in fourth gear takes just 6.4 seconds.

The average fuel consumption is stated at 31.8 mpg (EU cycle) with 172 g/km CO2 emission.

To make the Paceman stop quickly as well, it is equipped with larger, vented brakes of which the red calipers are visible through the standard 18-inch wheels and provide excellent stopping power.

Engine power is easily available and the standard All4 all-wheel-drive provides engaging handling and great traction out of tight corners. The system divides torque to the rear wheels automatically and unnoticeably up to 100 per cent, while it is usually 50:50.

The ride quality is absolutely good: the suspension well absorbs bad parts of the roads and isolates them from the cockpit. To be honest: better than I expected.

Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

The cockpit features the usual JCW steering wheel, badges and sports seats, also in the rear. The latter can be folded flat to extend the cargo area from 11.65 to 31.13 cubic feet
Mini Paceman S ALL4   (select to view enlarged photo)

For me the seat could be offering more side support, especially when driving fast on the country roads. Furthermore it is all familiar Mini stuff, including the large center ‘ clock’ which I am not very fond of, but accept as one of those things that are so typical for the brand. Indeed, I would probably miss it when it would not be there anymore….

Overall, the JCW Paceman is a nice car, but you feel the weight is playing its part. The latest addition to the JCW model line will undoubtedly attract Mini fans, something that has, of course, been figured out by the marketing and sales department. Diversifying the brand is still paying off.

The JCW Paceman is Mini’s flagship and with a price of $ 35,500 the most expensive model of the Mini brand so far. The most important difference over the Paceman Cooper S is the engine that with the larger intercooler and different exhaust offers some 35hp extra.

The new JCW model comes with a range of stability systems that cover quite some letters of the alphabet. ABS, EBD (electronic brake force distribution), CBC (corner brake control) with brake assist, hill assist, DTC Dynamic traction control, DSC dynamic stability control, DTC dynamic traction control and EDLC electronic differential lock control, which enhances traction without affecting the steering qualities in a negative way

This month, the Mini John Cooper Works Paceman S ALL4 is expected to arrive on the North American market.

Mini John Cooper Works Paceman S ALL4 
Body		two-door hatchback, 4 seats
L/w/h		162.3/70.3/60.1 inches
Wheelbase	102.3 inches
Engine: 	1.6-litre 4cyl turbocharger
Power:		218 hp @6000 RPM
Torque:	206 lb-ft @1900-5000 rpm (with over boost 221 lb-ft @ 2100-4500 rpm)	
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Weight:	3,086 lbs.
0-62mph: 	6.9 seconds
Top speed: 	140 mph
Fuel economy:	31.8 mpg
CO2: 		172g/km
Price:		$ 36,200 (incl. $ 700 destination)