BMW launches the Mini designed to take on the Range Rover Evoque - really...


BMW has just added the seventh distinct model to the Mini range – the Paceman. The new car is best thought of as a slightly sportier two-door version of the Countryman, the large semi-SUV off-shoot of the Mini family.

BMW prefers to call the Paceman the “first Sports Activity Coupé in the premium small and compact segment”, and it does indeed shake off something of the Countryman’s visual heaviness.

One of the Paceman’s jobs is to take on the highly successful Range Rover Evoque - which is now keeping Land Rover’s Halewood factory going for 24 hours and three shifts per day - but probably doesn’t quite have the style to present a serious threat; its biggest claim to fame in design terms is that it is the only Mini with horizontally-orientated tail-lights. Inside, the most distinctive feature is its strict four-passenger configuration with two individual rear seats in place of the usual bench.

Nevertheless, the pull of the Mini badge is strong, and BMW is initially offering four engine options with familiar “Cooper” model designations intended to show that the Paceman lies at the sportier end of the Mini spectrum; the Mini Cooper D Paceman (112 PS), the Mini Cooper Paceman (122 PS), the Mini Cooper SD Paceman (143 PS) and the Mini Cooper S Paceman (184 PS). Later, there will be a John Cooper Works version, and the Paceman will also be offered with the MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system at extra cost.

The list of standard equipment includes air conditioning, sports seats and the “Centre Rail” system first seen on the Countryman, but the Paceman wouldn’t be a Mini if there weren’t ample opportunities to inflate its selling price by choosing from a long list of tempting options. Examples include xenon headlights, a glass roof, sat-nav, and “MINI Connected” in-car phone and music technology.