After years of sticking to a tried-and-tested formula, MINI has spent the better part of these past few years expanding its product portfolio, all in the name of diversifying its offerings to a growing number of market segments.
From the hatchback Cooper, MINI has already gone and released the Clubman, the Countryman, as well as a variety of special edition Coopers. Then there are the concept vehicles, which MINI has a boatload as well.
One of these concepts – the Paceman – debuted at the Detroit Auto Show. Don’t put too much on the ‘concept’ tag, though, because there’s a very big chance that this slimmed down Countryman could find its way onto production blocks soon.
MINI claims that the Paceman will be the first of its kind in the small premium segment. We’re pretty sure that it’s just MINI’s way of drawing attention to itself, which, for better or worse, it does better than anybody else in the industry.
UPDATE 01/12/2011: Well that didn’t take long. Just a couple of days after Mini debuted the Paceman Concept, Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, has announced that the Paceman will go to production.
“I’m thrilled to tell you now, for the very first time, that there will be a seventh member of the MINI family – and we will base it on this concept”, he said during MINI’s press conference at the Detroit motorshow.
Like it or not, it’s on.
UPDATE 03/14/12: MINI has officially announced that the Paceman Concept is set to take a new production life of its own as the Countryman Coupe, with the model expected to make its debut at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Took them long enough, right?
Details after the jump
MINI retained some of what it considers ‘unique characteristics’ on the Paceman Concept’s front end – the radiator grille being one of them - while also diving into making the vehicle as unique as possible. For starters, the Paceman features large headlights with chrome surrounds that extend well into the front wings. Add that to the contoured bonnet and we have the makings of a pretty imposing front end.
Over on the side, the Paceman comes with a new front wing and side indicator, making it look as rugged and sturdy as it can be. The vehicle’s dark wheel arches and the matching side skirts complete the overall sporty and aggressive look of the new crossover concept.
MINI’s unmistakable shoulder line is also evident on the rear of the Paceman Concept to accentuate its sporting look. Unlike the shoulder line, MINI decided to add new elements, including how the glass and the roof on the vehicle were treated. Moreover, the windows on the vehicle wrap around the car similar to a band of glass with the roof having that ‘suspended’ effect, which MINI explains is called a ‘helmet roof’.
The Paceman’s rear apron looks a lot like the Cooper S Countryman. There’s a diffuser in there that channels the airflow between the twin exhausts to further enhance the car’s aerodynamic properties.
The Paceman Concept’s interior is unmistakably MINI in every shape, form, or imagination. There’s the instrument panel of the Paceman that is defined by its distinctive, concave forms, and the sporting yet functional impression it exudes. Also found in the Mini are the central air vents, Central Speedo, and gearshift lever featuring outer rings, which come in a contrasting color with large side air vents to underline the MINI character further.
The center console is also similar to the Countryman in that it coalesces into the Center Rail. What this does is create a visual and functional link between the front and rear seats, running along the centerline of the passenger compartment all the way back to the rear seat backrests. The Paceman also has been treated with high-grade leather to further stamp on the luxurious feel of its interior. Likewise, there’s a new take on the brand’s elliptical door as well as the shaped armrests with large storage compartments, ergonomically designed door pulls. The speakers for the sound system are embedded in the main element of this ellipse.
All in all, the interior of the Paceman Concept was designed to provide both high-end luxury and a sporty design language, complimenting each other to create a study of premium quality and funky design all dressed up in one package.
The MINI Paceman Concept will be powered by MINI’s most powerful engine to date. The MINI John Cooper Works 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine gives the MINI Paceman Concept the capacity to produce 211 horsepower and 192 lb/ft of torque. According to MINI, the torque value on the Paceman can also be boosted up all the way to 207 lb/ft of torque, thanks in large part to the vehicle’s Overboost function.
The MINI Paceman Concept will be made available in both two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions.
Since this is just a concept as of now, there’s no word as to what the Paceman Concept will cost if ever Mini decided to take it to the production block.
For all intents and purposes, the Paceman Concept will have its fair share of competitors if it gets produced, with one of the most notable being the new Range Rover Evoque. Both vehicles are still ways away from being out on the road, but for sure, if and when both make it out, expect the Paceman and the Evoque to be in the same conversation as it pertains to compact SUVs of the future.
MINI stays true to its quirky and unique heritage
Variety is always a good thing. After years of shunning it, MINI has finally seen the light
Performance qualities point to a pretty good car
Still in its ’Concept’ phase so we don’t know if it’ll even make it to the production block
Looks eerily like a smaller Countryman
For a brand that lives outside the box, there’s nothing that points to a revolutionary design language