For anyone that wants to remain anonymous on the roads the MINI John Cooper Works ALL4 Paceman Coupé is not the car you should buy. In the week I had the JCW Paceman everywhere I drove people were checking out the car. I’m sure it wasn’t the driver!
With a funky retro style and a not so subtle paint job the MINI JCW ALL4 Paceman Coupé certainly attracts attention wherever it goes. The Sports Activity Coupé has a longer wider stance than the standard MINI and the weight-optimised 18-inch light-alloy wheels in Twin Spoke Black Burnished with red brake callipers are a feature. As is the JCW aerodynamic kit, lowered sports suspension, white paint job with contrasting red stripe on the bonnet, red roof and red stripes along the side.
The style of the MINI JCW Paceman is such that the car appears to be slipping through the atmosphere even when standing still. Twin exhaust pipes also look cool. The Paceman bears the John Cooper Works logo on the radiator grille, tailgate, door sill strips and near the side indicators.
Inside there is surprising amount of room for the driver and passenger. Although the leather driver’s seat has manual adjustment with corresponding height and reach adjustable steering wheel, I found it difficult to get a comfortable driving position. I needed more tilt for the squab. However at 190cm and bigger than the average bear I am not the target market.
One very clever and cool feature to mention is that the tachometer and digital speedo adjust with the steering wheel, so that at all times you have perfect vision of these important readouts.
The steering wheel itself is thick rimmed and feels great in your hands. It also houses the usual controls, but the centre columns hide the side stalks.
The sports driver’s seat was comfortable to others who drove the MINI and had more than enough rearward slide room. Overall the front seats were roomy and comfortable.
The central stack takes a little getting used to with a large 6.5inch speedo around the dial. I found myself never reading it. The large dial displays a variety of functions.
The rest of the centre stack houses the audio system, air conditioning controls and various functional switches including the sports switch. The controls for the centre dial are behind the gear lever.
Let’s talk about the rear seats. They were comfy and individually sculptured but useless. You really struggle to have anyone in the back with normal height front passengers. The beauty though is that they fold flat, dramatically increasing the boot storage area from 330L to over 1,000L of useable space. The boot again showed clever design with a recessed base that prevented shopping bags etc from sprawling around.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning and MINI Boost CD radio; variety of individualisation options and comfort-enhancing features, such as xenon headlights, Adaptive Headlights, Comfort Access, automatically dimming rear-view mirror and exterior mirrors, electrically operated tilting/sliding glass sunroof, Park Distance Control, Harman/Kardon hi-fi loudspeaker system, MINI navigation system; range of MINI Connected functions include web radio, in-car use of Facebook and Twitter, Dynamic Music, Driving Excitement, Mission Control and the MINIMALISM Analyser.
Storage is an issue with small door pockets, two cup holders in the centre console, reasonable glove box and sunglass holder under the small centre console storage. There are handy storage nets on the transmission tunnel.
The JCW ALL4 Paceman is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with twin-scroll turbocharger, petrol direct injection and variable valve control based on the BMW Group’s VALVETRONIC technology. It develops a power output of 160 kW@ 6,000rpm and peak torque of 280 Nm between 1,900 and 5,000rpm. The technology also allows an overboost function that can increase the torque to 300 Nm for short periods between 2,100 and 4,500 rpm. courtesy of the overboost function. The sports exhaust system provides this power delivery with a throaty sound.
The power and torque is delivered through a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, driving all four wheels through the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. The ALL4 system uses an electromagnetic centre differential to distribute drive seamlessly between the front and rear axles – and, in so doing, optimises traction, driving stability and agility.
Chassis modifications to the MINI John Cooper Works Paceman include firmly tuned springs and dampers, strengthened anti-roll bars, a 10-millimetre lower ride height and a braking system with red callipers. The DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system comprises DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) mode, and the standard Sport Button allows the driver to tweak the engine’s responses and soundtrack, as well as the power assistance provided by the steering.
The JCW ALL4 Paceman is all about performance. It will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed 226 km/h. The clever thing is that this performance doesn’t come at the expense of fuel economy. We averaged around 8.0L/100K for the time we had the vehicle. This did include a fair bit of freeway driving though.
Safety is a key feature with 6 airbags Hydraulic two-circuit brake system with anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Brake Assist, Hill Start Assistant, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), DSC control unit with integrated control electronics for the MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. Parking brake acts mechanically on rear wheels.
The essence of the MINI JCW ALL4 Paceman is the driving though. Here it excels. The combination of powerful and free spinning 1.6L twin turbo engine mated perfectly to the six speed manual, combined with the sports tuned suspension, speed sensitive steering provides the go kart experience that MINI is famous for.
The MINI JCW ALL4 Paceman Coupé was a blast to drive. All the niggly issues disappear when you are faced with a tight twisting free road. The fun is exponential, the more freedom the faster you go, the better the MINI handles the more fun you have. Up and down through the gears, the tuned exhaust provides a level of sound exhilaration that many are trying to ban.
At about $65,000 drive away the MINI isn’t cheap, but it does have an abundance of features, the credibility provided by the JCW tuning and is very cool to boot. The great thing that buyers love is the ability to individualise their car. Yes this is certainly one for individuals and long live cars like the MINI. They provide fun rather than bland transport.
What is good:
• Performance and handling
• Street Cred
What is not so good:
• Rear seat room
• No spare
Model MINI JCW ALL4 Paceman Coupé
Model Price $65,148 RDAP
Engine 1.6L 4 cyl Twin Turbo Petrol
Drivetrain AWD 6 speed manual
Power 160 Kw @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 280 Nm @ 1,900 – 5,000rpm
CO2 Emissions 186 g/km
Green Vehicle Rating 4 1/2 Star
Economy (ADR comb) 8.0L/100km
Tow Capacity – N/A
Tow Ball Rating N/A
Servicing $Not Supplied
Warranty 3yr with full roadside assist
Overall AnyAuto Rating 80/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 9
Fit for Purpose 8
Build Quality 9
Value for Money 7