The Mini Paceman, which the iconic brand introduced as a concept at the North American International Auto Show, will soon be on the roads - but it hasn't been a universally welcomed announcement.

Ian Robertson, a board member at BMW which owns the Mini brand, confirmed that a vehicle based on the Paceman will enter production as the seventh member of the Mini family in a presentation January 10.

The Paceman is a slightly squatter version of the Countryman and sports two doors and a more muscular, aggressive profile than its larger counterpart.

It offers a 1.6 liter engine from Mini John Cooper Works which delivers 211 hp and will also be available with Mini's MINIALL4 four-wheel-drive technology, helping to put it firmly in the sports vehicle category.

"Mini is going into territory where no one's been before - it's the first crossover coupé in the premium small car segment," said Robertson.

"This car captures the typical Mini characteristics - unique design, clever functionality and signature driving fun - with a new level of agility."

Although many fans of the iconic cars will be delighted with the announcement, it drew criticism from some commentators who fear that a seventh model could dilute the brand's core values even further.

Forbes' Joann Muller asked "How many Minis is too many?", while the New York Times' Wheels blog questioned "how far can you stray from the original design before it's no longer a Mini?"

On Mini enthusiast blogs such as MotoringFile, the launch provoked even more of a debate, with opinions ranging from "That's good news. I think it's great MINI is producing more models," to "I don't get it. Too many models already."

The North American International Auto Show is open to the public January 15 - 23 in Detroit, Michigan.

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