The people at Mini may have overstretched their boundaries with this venture into uncharted territory. It becomes immediately clear, due to the non-committal official descriptions and the slightly unusual appearance; the Mini Paceman doesn’t comfortably fit into any predefined category.
It has been billed as a two door version of the Mini Countryman, which prompts the question – why would they want to make a two door version of the Mini Countryman?
Though the term ‘Sports Activity Coupé’ is the officially designated category associated with this vehicle, you can’t help but feel that they would have been better off perfecting and developing cars at either end of the spectrum instead of creating one that uncomfortably straddles the void.
It doesn’t excel as a small SUV or as a Sporty Coupé and that is where most of its problems lie. This is a car suffering with an identity crisis and as a result the drive feels slightly indecisive.
The first thing you will notice is the extremely tight handling and the sensitivity of the pedals. There have been criticisms of Minis in the past; suggestions that the steering was slightly loose here and complaints about the overall weightiness there.
It seems like they have taken it all to heart and this has resulted in noticeable overcompensation. At times it can feel like you are unnecessarily on edge because you know that any slight graze of the steering wheel will cause a sharp turn. This is overkill and the result is that the Paceman feels erratic and suffers with roll in wider turns.
According to Mini this is a car that is supposed to appeal to people across a massive age range. Unfortunately, there seems to be a significant number of mitigating factors for each age group that might actually be interested in investing. There are two seats in the back where they possibly could have fitted a third in between with a bit of jiggery pokery. Obviously this is in order to appeal to those who buy this for the sporty appeal, but those who do see this as more of a compact SUV will be disappointed at the lack of flexibility.
It certainly has some redeeming qualities. As with all Minis there are some nice stylistic touches like the classy badges carefully deployed throughout the vehicle. The external aesthetics won’t be to everyone’s tastes but they aren’t bad.
In summary, you would probably be better off investing in one of the more comfortably defined options. There are versions of the Mini that are much easier to drive and significantly nicer to look at.