Mini Cooper S Paceman 2013 Review

Mini Cooper S Paceman 2013 Review

With seven Mini model lines available there’s plenty of choice, whether you want classic, small and nimble, or something with more space, like this new Paceman.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-rear-quarterDespite the Mini’s oxymoronic proportions (it’s not exactly ‘mini’ and adds almost 180kg over a standard Mini Cooper S), it delivers a relatively peppy 7.5 seconds to 100kph, which is half a second slower. You get the same 135kW, 240Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. Fuel economy is OK for a petrol car with Mini quoting 6.1l/100km combined, 5.4l/100km extra-urban and 7.5l/100km urban. Those figures are for the 6-speed manual, which we tested; if you go for the automatic, it’s more thirsty.

The Paceman’s boot is where you get the main advantage over the standard Mini. It has 330 litres of space with the seats up (over twice as much as a Mini) and 1080 litres with the seats down, versus 680 in a Mini. The Paceman’s fuel tank is three litres less than a Mini at 47 litres.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-rear-seatsThe seats don’t fold fully flat in the rear. There are only two of them, too, and you won’t be transporting basketball players in comfort. You get to the rear seats via the front doors and sliding the front seats forward. The front seats don’t return to the place they were when you moved them forward, though, so you will end up making adjustments each time. Between the seats are two cup holders.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-front-interiorMy drive to Piha on Auckland’s west coast quickly taught me that you have plenty of overtaking power, and excellent cornering ability, but the Paceman has quite an active drive when the roads are bumpy; it demands to be controlled because of the firmer suspension and sharp steering. You’ll feel like you need two hands on the wheel if the road is narrow and undulating because it feels fidgety on its large 18-inch alloys with 225/45R18 run-flat tyres, and the steering is very light. If you take command, though, it delivers a fairly engaging drive with an almost sports car-like feel at times. This is helped by an excellent driving position, supportive bucket seats and the fact that the suspension has been lowered 10mm to create a lower centre of gravity.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-bootThe Paceman has stability control with traction control, brake assist, cornering brake control, electronic brake force distribution, and six airbags as standard.

mini-cooper-s-paceman-flankIf you’ve never climbed inside a Mini before be aware that it will take you some time to acclimatise. The switches are all beautifully set in their own little roll cages, and they’re in places you wouldn’t expect, so you need some familiarisation time. There’s a dinner plate-sized speedo in the centre of the dash which is only for showing the rear seat passengers what speed you are doing as the driver gets a rev counter and digital readout.

Things to watch out for: it’s too easy to select reverse instead of first (something that made me nearly come a cropper when manoeuvring), and you are paying a premium for the coupe-style looks; if you really want a roomy Mini, then the Cooper S Countryman (which is mechanically pretty much identical and has a much more useful five doors rather than three) is two thousand dollars cheaper.

Perhaps it’s time for Mini to stop the incessant plastic surgery and create a whole new car with an interior that brings the functionality of an Audi A3 or VW Scirocco to the table (both of which are a better drive for similar money). The Mini is very stylish, but it puts style before ease of use, and there are better, more modern user interfaces that are implemented on other vehicles that still achieve a sense of class and style.

Even though you do get a fairly good amount of kit as standard (for a Mini), at $53,000 I would expect a reversing camera and Bluetooth streaming audio to be included. However, there isn’t a car out there (except maybe the New Beetle) that matches or beats the Mini for fashion accessory status. It takes an iconic brand and makes it both trendy and practical by making it, well, not ‘mini’.

Price: $53,500


  • Performance is brisk
  • Ultimate fashion accessory


  • If you’re seriously considering buying a Mini, you’re buying a visual statement, so you probably won’t care much about the foibles mentioned above


Transmission and Technology
6-speed manual transmission
Four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged in-line petrol engine
Valvetronic technology
Single-joint spring-strut front
Multi-link rear axle
Sports suspension
Power steering, electronic speed-related
Sport button
Start/Stop button
Airbags for driver and front passenger (2 front, 2 side, 2 curtain)
Anti-lock braking system including Brake Assist and Cornering Brake Control
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) including Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC)
Electronic Braking Force Distribution Control
Park Distance Control, rear (PDC)
Run-flat indicator
Wheels and Tyres
Light-alloy wheels, 18″ Light alloy wheel Turbo Fan, 7 1/2 x 18 / runflat tyres 225/45 R18
MINI Mobility System
Runflat tyres
Locking wheel bolts
Interior Design and Comfort
Sport seats for driver and front passenger
Seat-height adjustment for driver and passenger seat
Centre front armrest
3-spoke sports leather multi-function steering wheel with cruise control
Cloth Diagonal Track
4 seats with rear lounge seat
Floor mats in velour
Interior surface Dark Anthracite
Colour Line Carbon Black
Interior colour Carbon Black
Chrome Line Interior
2-part centre rail
Automatic air conditioning including microfilter
Radio MINI Boost CD with AUX-In connection
On board computer
Bluetooth mobile preparation with USB audio interface. (A snap-in adapter in the centre armrest is available via Genuine MINI Accessories at additional cost. Snap-in adapter enables charging and external roof aerial functionality)
Cup holders – 2 in front centre console
Storage compartment package
Luggage compartment screen – foldable and removable
Exterior Design
Roof in body colour
Mirror caps in body colour
Side scuttles in Chrome with S designation
Exterior mirrors, electrically adjustable
Chrome Line Exterior
Rear spoiler
Clear indicator lenses
Dual exhaust tailpipes on left and right in Chrome finish
Radiator grille in Chrome surround with Black honeycomb insert
Air inlet integrated between bumper and radiator grille
Light and Sight
Front fog lights
Rear fog light
Rain sensor with automatic headlight control
Halogen headlights for low-beam and high-beam
Interior lights package
Follow-me-home function
Heated rear window

Words and photos:


« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Subaru Outback 2.5i Sport 2013 Review

Skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, wakeboarding: they all need either long or cumbersome equipment, and transport to places where proper tarmac...