MINI's center speedo trick never gets old. We're cruising along at a pretty rapid pace and the orange bubble floats along the super-sized dial smoothly, reminding us of cars that come from another era. This is a feature that we never want to see disappearing.
We've been pushing the Paceman over crests and through devilish corners for a few hours now, but we're still feeling relaxed. The MINI Cooper S Paceman doesn't makes us sweat like a hot hatch would, despite offering a fun drive.
The Cooper S is worthy of the badge, leaving the dynamic drawbacks of the Countryman
behind. Drive the car in a spirited manner and it will play along. However, if you take it past eight or nine tenths, it will fail to deliver the expected sensations.
The force-fed 1.6-liter is pretty poky, keeps the turbo lag to a decent level and pushes along with linearity up to the rev limiter. The unit is rather thirsty though, with the vehicle returning an average of 19.6 mpg (12 liters per 100 km) during our test drive.
The six-speed automatic does a fair job, but offers nothing more. Even the paddles are set up in an unintuitive way. Both can be used for upshifting and downshifting and when you're in a hurry you may be confused at times, just like it happens with Porsche's buttons. This is certainly the MINI Paceman's weak tech link. We'll have to wait until the next generation of MINI vehicles in order to get an eight-speed auto.
Alas, as we're introducing the throttle to the carpet underneath coming out of a second gear bend, we're not getting 100 percent of the thrills of a hot hatch.
When you're driving at the limit, you do feel the need for some extra torque and once you go past 80 mph (130 km/h) you don't get the same punch anymore.
You simply have to tick the box of the optional ALL4 four-wheel drive system and this has nothing to do with taking the MINI Paceman off the road.
You don't even need to drive it too fast on tarmac in order to feel the need for some rear-wheel aid. That's because the front-wheel drive model torque steers all over the place. Use more than half of the throttle's travel and the steering seems to develop a mind of its own. It's not hard to correct this, but it does become tiring after a while.
We've just gone through a series of bends that left the tires in pain and we're sorry to report that the steering is a bit vague. The good news is that now you can push the Sport button without this making the steering worse. Basically, you can drive the Paceman in Sport all day long.
The sports suspension that comes as standard on the Paceman does makes the car feel light on its feet through the corners but once you go past the limits of grip the movements of the car become a bit hard to predict. That's because there's still some body roll there, just with a shorter travel than in the Countryman.
The Paceman range starts with 16-inch wheels and while the Copper S rides on 17-inch rims, you shouldn't go for the optional 18- or 19-inch rollers. These make the ride crashy and will interfere with the pleasure offered by the overall experience.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
You’re probably wondering why I gave the Paceman less points than the Countryman. This is 2013 people! You can’t just launch a car that lacks basic features for its premium ambitions. Seriously, not having electric seats in a car like this is like wearing high heels without the... heels. And there are a few other things missing, which make the car feel a bit like a Vertu fake bought on eBay. OK, I got a bit carried away, I’ll stop now.
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