A new MINI Design concept will make its debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit next month. The MINI Paceman Concept is the first Sports Activity Coupé in the premium small segment of the market and is clearly BMW’s shot across the bows of the upcoming Range Rover Evoque.
MINI UK claims ‘the Paceman combines the classical MINI concept with the defining features of the MINI Countryman and the style of a coupe’, but we think that the Paceman looks rather like an R56 on stilts. No decision has been made about a future production version but the unveiling of yet another new MINI concept underlines BMW’s determination to grow production volumes of its British-badged offshoot.
There are few surprises in terms of styling as the familiar MINI family frontal appearance dominates the vehicle. However, there are some additional interest points: from the side the MINI Paceman Concept features a fresh interpretation of the front wing and side indicator that attracts the eye from the A-pillars and is complemented by dark wheel arch surrounds with matching side skirts which emphasise the sporting character of the Paceman.
The familiar MINI shoulder line that rises towards the rear of the Paceman Concept also hints at its sporting intent. Less familiar is the glass and roof treatment. As the waistline rises the flat roofline flows into a wide C-pillar that appears to be transparent. The windows appear to wrap around the car like a band of glass with the roof ‘suspended’ on top and painted in a striking, contrasting colour. This is known as the ‘helmet’ roof. The coupé-style windows taper towards the rear and the whole effect is one of a dynamic wedge shape.
The MINI Paceman Concept is powered by the JCW 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine which delivers 211bhp and up to 207 lb ft of torque when using the Overboost function. It’s underpinned by the ALL4 permanent all-wheel-drive system which the Countryman already uses and which will probably also feature in some versions of the next generation BMW 1-Series. Suspension set-up is by McPherson struts with lower track control arms at the front and a multi-link rear axle was developed for both front- and four-wheel drive cars.
BMW UK Limited’s Director for MINI, Jochen Goller, commented: ‘The MINI Paceman Concept aims to deliver a particularly emotional driving experience and demonstrates this ability in a style typical of the brand. I believe we are offering clear evidence of how totally new vehicle concepts can still be developed through unconventional creativity.’