MINI Paceman (2013-2016)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

3dr Hatch (1.6,2.0 petrol /1.6,2.0 diesel)


The MINI Paceman. A niche too far? MINI reckoned not back in 2013 when it launched this slightly larger coupe-like three-door fashionably-orientated hatch. It was basically a coupe version of the five-door Countryman model, which means sportiness with a bit of extra space all packaged up very trendily indeed. But does it make sense as a used buy?

The History

Owning a MINI has always been fun but it’s rarely been very practical. Lovely to have the go kart handling and dinky little shape of course, but over the years, many have quickly tired of the cramped cabin and rock hard ride. The only way the brand could keep these people would be to bring them a sporty MINI that was also comfortable and spacious. So in 2013, the company launched this car – the MINI Paceman.

It was the eighth member of the MINI family and probably the hardest to pigeonhole. But that all depends on how you look at it. Let us simplify it like this. Back in 2013, there were essentially two kinds of MINI: the British-built Hatch, Clubman, Convertible, Coupe, Roadster and Clubvan models, all derived from essentially the same platform. And then there was a rather different, much larger five-door design with styling cues to give it a MINI look, built for the brand by Magna Steyr in Austria: the Countryman SUV. Take that car’s greater comfort and practicality, then blend it with a coupe body style and a bit of traditional MINI fun and you’d satisfy quite a few potential buyers. That at least was the thinking behind the Pacemen.

At the time, we thought it was an approach that made a lot of sense – but we were in a minority amongst those who tried to review this car, most of whom struggled to see the point of the whole thing and the reason why MINI would take a five-door Crossover SUV and try and make a fashionable little coupe out of it. We actually never thought the concept was very difficult to grasp: as we said, what we have here is a MINI that can be both sporty and properly spacious – a car the marketers have branded as a ‘Sports Activity Coupe’. It sold in modest numbers until being quietly deleted from the range in 2016.

What You Get

From launch, everyone seemed to have an opinion about this car and we suppose for any fashionable little trinket, that’s a good start. It's inside though, where things get a little more interesting – particularly at the back, an area easily accessible through the wide doors. The highlight is the unusual rear seat, which has been styled around a 'lounge concept'. That might be over-stating things it a bit but you do get two - and only two - individual chairs with armrests integrated into the rear trim. You couldn’t exactly say that there’s room to stretch out here but the couple of adults who’d never fit in the back of a MINI Hatch (and can’t be accommodated at all in a MINI Coupe) should be fine on shorter journeys.

Up-front, apart from a few minor details (redesigned air vent surrounds and different instrument binnacle trim), it’s pretty much exactly as per the Countryman model, which is either welcome or a bit disappointing, depending upon your point of view. It’s certainly not very coupe-like: you sit high up and stretch down to operate the gear lever, just as you would in an SUV. As for boot space, well the fact that this Paceman has the same wheelbase as a five-door MK1 MINI Countryman and is pretty much exactly the same size really pays dividends here. Access is via a large and high-opening tailgate and once you raise it to reveal a usefully low boot lip, you’ll find that luggage capacity is simply in another league from conventional MINI models, despite the way that the tail lights protrude into the load area.

What To Look For

There aren’t many reported issues with this Pacemen mechanically. We came across a few cars experiencing the odd clutch problem. The torque of the engine seems to be part of the problem, but some owners have reported that their clutch was slipping quite early in the car’s life. Even then, it wasn’t that straightforward. Apparently, the on-board sensor designed to be an early-warning system of clutch failure proved in some cases to be just too sensitive for its own good, throwing up false warnings on the dashboard when there was actually no problem at all. Dealerships have tackled this by taking any car in question out on to the road and performing a series of full-throttle acceleration tests in both second and fourth gear. Any clutch slip meant a new clutch was needed, but if there was no slip, the software was recalibrated to prevent the false alarms. Either way, the acceleration test is one you should perform, particularly when test-driving any Cooper S or JCW variant with a manual gearbox.

On The Road

Under the bonnet, Paceman customers choose between the same 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines that all MINI models from this era had to have, though they do enjoy a slightly wider selection than those on offer with the MINI Coupe sold in this period. Specifically, that means an extra lower-powered 112bhp diesel option at the foot of the range if you can’t stretch to the 143bhp Paceman SD diesel that probably offers the best balance between power and parsimony. Petrol people meanwhile get a Paceman Cooper model with a 1.6-litre 122bhp unit offering a sprint to 62mph of 10.4 seconds, while the Paceman Cooper S uses the same engine, tuned to deliver 184bhp. If that’s not fast enough, the flagship John Cooper Works Paceman uses a 218bhp version of this unit allied to ALL 4 all-wheel-drive. The ALL4 set-up was optional from new elsewhere across the line-up, something unavailable to MINI Hatch or Coupe customers from this era. Another reason for preferring a Paceman.


This Paceman, the MINI Countryman’s younger, sportier coupe cousin, offers something refreshingly different, part Crossover, part hot hatch. And it’s perfectly pitched to satisfy those who want a sporty MINI with extra space and style. Just as it was intended to.