Mini has released the first pictures of the new Paceman concept car which it will display at the North American International Motor Show in January 2011. The Paceman, described as “the first Sports Activity Coupé in the premium small segment”, is based on the awkward looking Countryman crossover; it even shares some of that car's exterior parts, including the radiator grille, but is a much more successful design.

Where the Countryman has an upright, jacked-up four-door body, the Paceman has a sleeker two-door shell, which looks much more like that of the original BMW Mini of 2001 – although at over four metres long, it's a lot bigger. BMW says that the cabin of the Paceman concept combines traditional Mini elements such as the brand's trademark central speedometer, with the “central rail” stowage/equipment mounting system first seen on the Countryman.

Should BMW decide to put the Paceman into full production, the use of the Countryman as a base would allow for a wide range of engine and drive-train options, including a choice of front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive transmissions.

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