MINI John Cooper Works Paceman – it’s a MINI abomination

The new MINI John Cooper Works Paceman breaks cover. It's a coupe version of an SUV version of a small hatchback. Huh?

By Tim Kendall | 13th December 2012

The MINI marketing machine has spawned another mutant. This here is the MINI Paceman John Cooper Works. The what now?

It’s ‘an extreme sports performance’ version of a ‘compact sports activity coupé’. Or to put it an another way, a niche within a niche within a niche within a niche. What we actually have here is BMW milking the MINI brand for all it’s worth, and then some.

MINI John Cooper Works Paceman

The MINI John Cooper Works Paceman

So how did we go from the elegant simplicity of the Issigonis-designed BMC original, to a seven-strong range which includes a high performance coupé version of a crossover-cum-SUV version of the vanilla MINI hatchback? A flowchart would help, but I don’t have the web-wizard skills, so I’ll explain.

In 2001 came the new MINI, a re-worked noughties take on the sixties icon, with the engineering and marketing might of BMW behind it. It wowed the early adopters and kept on wowing late adopters until well after it had turned from trendy urbanite’s accessory to obvious cliché. Then came the convertible version back in 2005, an understandable evolution in the light of other retro-modern efforts like the VW Beetle cabriolet. But when the second generation of BMW-era MINI arrived on the scene in 2006, things began to veer off course. The brand went on a bit of a MINI marketing adventure.

MINI Countryman

This is not just a MINI. This is a bloated Austrian-built 4-wheel drive MINI.

The Clubman of 2008 – so named because BMW never purchased the rights to the Traveller name which adorned sixties Mini Estates – wasn’t the major crime, far from it in fact. The Countryman of 2010 though, isn’t a MINI at all. It’s a longer wheelbase, jacked-up, four or two-wheel drive crossover-cum-SUV built in Austria by Magna Steyr. The Paceman, in turn, is a coupe version of the Countryman SUV. Yes, WTF indeed.

So the MINI John Cooper Works Paceman is the 215bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged version of that coupe crossover SUV thing, which itself had higher suspension than the standard MINI. Only because it’s sporty, they’ve lowered it back down again. It’s like a bunch of marketing people decided ‘lets break down the established norms and shake things up a bit’. Only the Paceman JCW is one ideas shower too far. I won’t mention the MINI Coupé – because despite being a fixed-roof car that looks like a convertible sporting a hardtop, it’s comparatively inoffensive when set against the controversial Countryman/Paceman (Pastryman?) dynasty.

Still, it’ll probably be okay to drive. And it’ll probably sell, even at nearly £30k, because it’s a MINI. Of course, you could choose to spend that £30k on another effort from the BMW stable, the utterly mesmeric M135i – a car designed by engineers, not Homer Simpson.

MINI John Cooper Works Paceman pictures:

By Tim Kendall
13th December 2012


  1. wl tollman says:

    Would you buy a frozen black? supposedly only 550. they don’t seem to have much confidence in their own build
    quality; 3 yr/75000 km! Next year ltd edition frozen orange? Resale value say vs.Audi s1.Both AWD. Both expensive.

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