By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.9
The 2016 Mini Paceman starts with elements of the company's many models, yet ends with something that is simultaneously unique and familiar. For example, there's the familiar 2-door design of the Hardtop, but bigger because this is essentially a coupe version of the Clubman SUV. That accounts for the raised ride height and available all-wheel drive, too. In profile, it even shares a little something with the Mini Coupe thanks to the tiny ducktail spoiler at the end of the roofline. Inside, it's all Mini, from the airplane cockpit-style switches to the obsessively round gauges and vents. Under the skin, this "Sports Activity Coupe" offers three different engine choices and a satisfying driving experience, albeit less passenger and cargo space than its 4-door Countryman cousin.
Mini is already a niche brand, and the 2016 Paceman is a niche model within that brand, making it one of the most exclusive vehicles you can buy for less than $25,000. Hatchback practicality, all-wheel drive and fuel economy up to 34 mpg, the Paceman has its domestic side, too.
KBB Expert Ratings
At first glance, it looks like the 2016 Mini Paceman is losing options, but that's not the case. While the City, Technology and Loaded packages have disappeared, all the options in those packages are still available, either in other packages or stand-alone.
Mini's cars are like highway-legal go-karts, at least in popular perception. So while the idea of a Mini SUV is contrary to that, rest assured that the 2016 Mini Paceman...
... retains the requisite amount of Mini character in the driving experience, regardless of its raised stance and larger size. Granted, the Paceman gives up some handling edge in favor of the larger size and increased ground clearance. But compare it to others in its class and, well, it's truly the Mini of subcompact SUVs. A sport-tuned suspension makes curvy roads a treat while remaining more than tolerable enough for highway riding; an even softer version is available at no cost. The base 121-horsepower engine doesn't exactly make the Mini Cooper Paceman a rocket, but it's okay, and the 181-horsepower Cooper S Paceman or 208-horsepower JCW Paceman adds to the thrills.
ALL4 ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
The Mini Paceman is one of two Mini models to offer all-wheel drive (AWD) -- its 4-door cousin the Countryman is the other -- and that makes it a Mini for all seasons. It's available on Cooper S models and standard on the JCW, adding extra traction on slippery roads.
MINI CONNECTED INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM
Mini is integrating its audio systems ever more intricately with your smartphone. In the Paceman, you can use web-based audio programs, access social-media sites and even email pre-chosen destination using Google Send to Car. We also like the presentation on the color 6.5-inch screen in the Paceman's central speedometer.
It's important to note that the 2016 Mini Paceman seats only four, not five like its 4-door Countryman cousin. The sloping roofline also means less cargo space; even with the rear seats folded you have 38.1 cubic feet, and despite having more legroom than the standard Mini Hardtop, rear passengers will feel cramped. From a styling standpoint, the Paceman offers the same quirky design aesthetic we've come to expect in a Mini. While it's not quite up to the same standard as the newest Mini Hardtop, the Paceman still offers high-quality materials, switches and controls, plus that huge center-dash speedometer.
The Paceman is the sportier cousin to the more practical 4-door Countryman. Its forward stance, sloping roofline and rising beltline give it a ready-to-pounce appearance. The hatch rises vertically for easy loading and unloading; no barn-door eccentricities like the Clubman. Of course, being a Mini, there are about a zillion ways to customize the exterior, with different-colored roofs, mirrors, body colors, wheels, etc., all available. Turbocharged Cooper S and JCW variants of the Paceman are differentiated by an air scoop in the hood, dual tailpipes and brake ducts.
The 2016 Mini Cooper Paceman comes in three different flavors, each powered by a different engine: The Cooper (121 horsepower), the Cooper S (181) and the John Cooper Works (208). Beyond the engines, there are differences in interior and exterior trims. All Mini Cooper Paceman models come standard with a satisfying 6-speed manual transmission, Leatherette seats, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD Radio audio system with USB, Aux and Bluetooth inputs, keyless entry and automatic climate control. All new Minis also include no-cost maintenance for three years/36,000 miles and 4-year/unlimited-mileage roadside assistance.
Mini boasts there are 8 million possible configurations of its cars, thanks to its multitude of customized mirrors, wheels, hood stripes and other bits of trim. But beyond that, and an automatic transmission, there are a ton of other options. Bundles include a navigation package that also upgrades Bluetooth and includes apps and more. A Cold Weather package adds heated front seats, a Premium package upgrades the audio system to harman/kardon and adds a dual-pane sunroof, or you can take the easy route and order the Fully Loaded package. All-wheel drive is optional on the Cooper S Paceman.
All 2016 Mini Pacemans -- Pacemen? -- have a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder under the hood, but how much power it delivers depends on the model. The base Cooper Paceman puts out 121 horsepower, while the Cooper S Paceman adds a turbo for 181 horsepower. If you're really looking for extra go, the John Cooper Works model bumps up the turbo boost for a solid 208 horsepower, which should be more than enough to get you going. In all models, that power can be routed through either the standard 6-speed manual, or an available 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available on the S and standard on JCW models. All Minis offer good fuel economy, a good thing, since they also require 91-octane fuel.
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
118 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/34 mpg (manual), 25/30 mpg (automatic)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
181 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/32 mpg (manual), 25/32 mpg (automatic), 25/31 mpg (manual, AWD), 23/30 mpg (automatic, AWD)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
192 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-5,000 rpm (207 lb-ft with overboost)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/31 mpg (manual), 23/30 mpg (automatic)
Prices for the 2016 Mini Paceman are unchanged from last year, so the base Cooper Paceman starts at $24,400, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). The mid-level Cooper S Paceman starts at $27,750; add $1,700 if you want all-wheel drive with that. The top-line JCW Paceman starts at $36,450. Remember that options can add thousands of dollars to the price, pushing even a base model deep into the $30,000 range. The JCW is definitely the most fun, but the Cooper S Paceman comes close and starts nearly $10,000 less. Even at its lowest price, the Paceman's a premium proposition compared to the Nissan Juke, Fiat 500X, Kia Soul and Subaru XV Crosstrek. The KBB.com Fair Purchase Price calculator will tell you what others in your area are paying for the Paceman, but sadly, resale value for the Paceman has lagged other models in the Mini lineup, including its sibling the Countryman.