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Alf McQueef

Mini Cooper D Paceman

I can hear the diesel and Mini lovers sucking air in through their teeth - assuming this is going to be an ALF pasting. I refuse to accept Mini loan cars if I am doing any business miles that day as I find them so miserable to drive long distances in, and my feelings on diesel motors are well known.

However, I quite like it, within the context of how I feel about minis with small diesel engines generally. Bad bits first - the engine is gutless and joyless, I almost stalled it a few times, and the gearing is very high which does not help.  The gear change is awful - the stick protrudes a long way from the floor, is topped by a nasty hard-plastic lump with no tactility at all, and worst of all the shift itself is exceptionally notchy and vague. I'm not being unfair here - it really is one of the worst manual changes I have experienced for some years.  In fact I think we are going back to Mk1 Fiestas and the like  - so that's decades!

Refinement is not great either, it just has too much road noise for a car costing this much, and I still find the switchgear the most confusing of any brand of vehicle I have driven. The BMW iDrive selector is quite nice, the nasty little plastic nipple between the seats and on the radio fascia do not help the Mini's cause. More buttons would - there is no way Mrs ALF, or the previous nearly-Mrs ALF, would have the faintest idea how to use the radio or phone. The equipment in our C Max is so much easier to access, and works better.

However.... I feel miles more comfortable inside, there is decent space around my legs in particular so it loses that claustrophobic feel that the normal Mini has. The seating position (even with the seat as low as possible) is higher than expected - it feels much like the C Max with the seat in Mrs ALF's position (which is how I leave it - it could go a lot lower). I thought it was a Countryman until I hot home and saw it had 2 doors. The pedals and steering wheel have a nice feel, very similar to the C Max actually, and it corners with some vigour. I've not given it much yet, but if it had any form of petrol motor I would take it out for a little lap at lunchtime, it felt like it wanted to be driven. I would happily do longer trips in this variant of Mini.

Overall, I quite liked it to drive, and with a petrol engine and some acclimatisation to the weird controls I could like it more. The 1 series - in any format - totally destroys it on objective grounds, it just feels to much more grown up and the refinement and quality and just ease of using the controls are in a different league. I can see how some people may not like the BMW family feel though - it is very reserved, the Mini products have that artificial engineered-in "sportiness" that can pep up a (short) drive. In all the BMW's I have driven below full M versions, you need to go looking for the fun, the rest of the time it's just a very refined and well engineered express. The 2 series Tourer is probably a more direct comparison (with the Countryman at least), but I would certainly have our C Max over either. It drives quite similarly - with a notably sporty, willing feel - to this Paceman but I far prefer it inside, it is far more refined, and the gearchange is fantastic, as opposed to dreadful.
Alf McQueef

Here is the vehicle in question. How come I can take a half-decent interior photo with an old iPhone in 10 seconds, when half the ones I look at on AT are total, fuzzy, poorly exposed dross?



Nice Guy Eddie

I quite like these in Copper S spec with the big cross spoke wheels. That one looks rather sorry for itself and the handbrake looks rather horrid to use.
PhilD

Re: Mini Cooper D Paceman

Alf McQueef wrote:
I thought it was a Countryman until I got home and saw it had 2 doors.


Good review, but I'm afraid you lose all credibility with this line...


Alf McQueef

Re: Mini Cooper D Paceman

PhilD wrote:
Alf McQueef wrote:
I thought it was a Countryman until I got home and saw it had 2 doors.


Good review, but I'm afraid you lose all credibility with this line...




I thought someone would say that  I even walked around it looking for damage before driving off. What can I say - I have a brain that, especially at busy times, seems to filter out information that is not interesting to me. Ask Mrs ALF! In fact, please don't... One reason I stopped my Autocar subscription is that I simply don't care about a lot of cars on the market. At all.
Frank Bullitt

I like the Countryman but the Paceman is an ungainly looking thing to me - we drove a Cooper petrol and it was no ball of fire but tidy enough; however, in the spirit of all things FB the Pug 2008 1.6VTi I drove te following day was, in my view, a better steer.
Stuntman

It looks like a fat child.  I want to like MINIs, but I find all of them hard to love, somehow.
Twelfth Monkey

Not a looker, is it?
Alf McQueef

I settled into it easily on the way back and confirmed that I do like it overall - I was not having an attack of over-enthusiasm this morning. The high seating position and Xenons give excellent visibility - this is the first time I have used Xenons in the dark and they were superb. I got 47 MPG overall - much worse than in the 116d.

Back in my car, it was just so quiet, quick, and with such better visibility out the back, I felt right at home...
Chris M Wanted a V-10

What's with the passenger seat-belt fixing? It looks like it is sticking right out into mid-air, well clear of the seat cushion
Alf McQueef

I didn't even notice it had three doors until I went outside to take a photo of it - I'm hardly likely to have noticed that!

I did nearly rip the (stupidly shaped) handbrake off a few times. It was electronic and I was looking for some sort of mechanical feedback, but there was none. My first time using one (and hillstart assist) - not something I would go hunting for on the spec sheet, and more to break...
Martin

I've not had to touch the handbrake button (haven't had to press the Park button either) since I got the car, that's how it should be with an electronic system.  

I'm not a Paceman fan and your thoughts haven't changed that, the lack of refinement and poor gear change would put me right off too.  I do like the interior though.
PG

I drove a Paceman Cooper S last year. I can confirm that the better engine does make a big difference. It retains the positives and adds more power.

I'm going to put myself in a minority and say that I actually like the Paceman. It looks different and yet is still practical enough to be useable. There, I've said it.

Although I agree re the tyre noise.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

PG wrote:
I drove a Paceman Cooper S last year. I can confirm that the better engine does make a big difference. It retains the positives and adds more power.

I'm going to put myself in a minority and say that I actually like the Paceman. It looks different and yet is still practical enough to be useable. There, I've said it.

Although I agree re the tyre noise.

I like the Paceman, but (obviously) prefer the Countryman - the latter is genuinely spacious, whereas the Paceman is nothing special in that respect.
Martin

How long have you had yours now Nick?
Alf McQueef

The countryman - in turbo petrol spec - was on my mental shortlist for the Mrs ALF wagon but it was quite expensive. I expect you get that back come resale, but I was looking to buy outright and wanted less money tied up, and no loan. It makes far more sense to me than the Paceman. Also Mrs ALF could have been keener, and it is probably a little small luggage-wise (not sure on that, would need a look). the C Max boot is cavernous.

Is the Paceman/Countryman driving position the same? Given I was surprised how high the Paceman was, I assume the front seats are the same...
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

In order:

four years

the boot is not large, though the rear seats fold individually

AFAIK, the front seats are the same in Pace- and Countryman
Martin

Four years...I thought it must be getting on for that, but it doesn't seem that long ago!

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