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New MINI is up to Pace 


IT just gets better and better for MINI lovers – with the choice of models now extended to seven.

Latest member of the family is the Paceman, joining siblings Hatch, Clubman, Convertible, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster.

The newcomer is a stylish coupe, based on the Countryman, and five versions are available, including the Cooper S which I sampled.

It proved to be a cracking little car, retaining the MINI driving enjoyment with great agility as it stuck firmly to the tarmac when tackling bends at speed.

For buyers wanting even more grip, the Paceman is also available with four-wheel drive on Cooper D, SD and Cooper S.

I was more than happy with the handling of the front-wheel drive MINI and also with the response from the 184bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine.

With a standstill to 62mph time of 7.5 seconds and top speed of 135mph, it moved swiftly off the blocks and had plenty of pace when needed.

The six-speed manual gearbox was slick and smooth, and this model was ideal in town driving or sitting quietly at motorway speeds.

Ride quality was good and not too hard even with the lowered sports suspension.

Fuel economy figures are also decent – 38mpg urban, 52mpg extra urban and 46mpg combined.

This three-door version loses a rear seat – accommodating two adults in smart individual seats but leg space would be a bit cramped for six-footers on long journeys.

The driver and front passenger get sports seats which I felt comfortable in – not too hugging as some can be – and all-round vision was good as well.

The Paceman has a typical MINI interior with the instrument panel including the large round central speedo and window buttons have been moved from the panel to the door trim panel.

Boot space is adequate – 330 litres and rising to 1,080 litres with the rear seats folded down – and the high-opening tailgate eases loading.

The Paceman stands out from the crowd with its elegant yet sporty exterior.

It looks a fun car from the front while its sloping roof and blacked-out pillars add to its appeal.

The Paceman is the first MINI to get horizontal rear lights and is also the only one in the current line-up to feature its name on a rear plate.

MINI buyers tend to personalise their vehicles and there is a wide choice of bonnet stripes, upholstery variants as well as new exterior shades which include Brilliant Cooper, Blazing Red and Starlight Blue.

Standard equipment on the entry-level Paceman includes air conditioning, powered door mirrors and front sports seats.

The Paceman is stylish enough but it doesn’t come cheap with prices ranging from £18,875 for the Cooper to £29,545 for the 218bhp John Cooper Works.

The Cooper S costs £22,360 but the tag on the test model was £29,025 – so be careful when picking out those extras.