How many Minis is too many? Mini's about to find out as its product portfolio expands faster than a jilted lover's waistline. The hatchback that (re)started it all and the cabrio that followed shortly thereafter have since been joined by the Clubman wagon and the Countryman crossover, with WRC and Dakar rally versions, speedsters and coupes and more in the production pipeline. But that doesn't even take into account some of the concept derivatives that haven't (yet) made it to production, and this is the latest.
Called the Paceman, it's essentially a Countryman minus a couple of doors. It's set to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January as a concept car, but could very well make it to production as well. Taking a page out of its parent company's BMW's playbook, Mini calls the Paceman a "Sports Activity Coupe" (sort of like the BMW X6) and insists it's the first of its kind in the small premium segment. A "first" is pretty easy to achieve when you define the category yourself, but to our eyes the Paceman, with its sloping white roof, looks set to take on the likes of the three-door Range Rover Evoque, only smaller.
Under the hood, Mini's fitted the JCW turbo four with 211 horsepower, mated to the same ALL4 all-wheel drive system used in the Countryman. More details are available in the press release after the jump, along with the initial images in the gallery below. We'll be on hand at Cobo Hall to bring you live impressions from NAIAS, so stay tuned.
MINI KEEPS UP THE PACE WITH THE NEW PACEMAN CONCEPT
- First Sports Activity Coupe in the small premium segment
- Paceman Concept reinforces the MINI brand's unconventional creativity
- Sporting, masculine appearance blends with versatile character
- Paceman could be another building block in the development of the MINI brand.
A new MINI design concept will make its debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) which will be held between January 10 and 23, 2011. The MINI Paceman Concept is the first Sports Activity Coupé in the premium small segment of the market.
The MINI Paceman Concept study establishes a new category of car combining the fundamental MINI DNA - dynamic capability, individual design – and gives them a fresh twist with the help of cutting edge technology and an innovative new body concept. The Paceman combines the classical MINI concept with the defining features of the MINI Counrtyman and the style of a coupe. The result is a MINI with visual 'muscle car' design cues, displaying its dynamic capability from every angle.
Although no decision has been made about a future production version, Paceman could form yet another building block in the development of the MINI brand.
It is ten years exactly since the new MINI was launched to the US market so there is a happy symmetry in presenting an all-new concept at the Detroit Show," said Jochen Goller, MINI Director for BMW UK Ltd. "Following last year's launch of the MINI Countryman and the forthcoming launches of the MINI Coupé and Roadster, the Paceman Concept shows once again not only the innovative spirit and adventure among its design team, but also the potential breadth of the MINI brand as it grows and develops."
A MINI Sports Activity Coupé – urban and masculine.
The MINI Paceman Concept retains the familiar MINI family frontal appearance but adds its own distinctive flavour. Large headlights with chrome surrounds extend deep into the front wings and, together with the distinctively contoured bonnet, emphasise the imposing nose of the Paceman. The radiator grille is essentially the same as that of the Cooper S Countryman barring additional air intakes in the bumper to deliver improved brake ventilation and the incorporation of new deep set fog lights.
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 down to the unique design 19 inch front wheels. This rugged and sturdy design element is complemented by dark wheel arch surrounds with matching side skirts that emphasize the masculine, sporting nature of 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.
"In contrast to the more vertical design of the MINI Countryman, we've given the MINI Paceman Concept a horizontal emphasis and accentuated the width of the car rather more to underline the powerful appearance of the study," explained Marcus Syring, Head of MINI Exterior Design.
A new interpretation of the classic coupé design has given the MINI Paceman Concept a distinctive coupé tail that complements the athletic character of the carLoading ... Loading .... New rear lights positioned at the outer edges of the broad, muscular rear wings underline the dominance of horizontal lines, which run parallel to one another and emphasise the wide track of the rear axle.
As with the MINI Cooper S Countryman, the rear apron of the MINI Paceman Concept features a diffuser that channels the airflow between the twin exhausts and further enhances the car's aerodynamic properties. Even the licence plate recess echoes the form of the front air intake in order to forge a stylistic link between the front and rear of the car.
The MINI Paceman Concept measures 4,110 millimetres in length, 1,789 millimetres in width and 1,541 millimetres in height. In archetypal MINI style, the Paceman has extremely short front and rear overhangs to facilitate the familiar go kart driving responses.
Interior: a blend of modern function and luxurious character.
The interior of the MINI Paceman Concept deliberately draws on MINI's unique and distinctive design language, yet it also imparts a refreshing new look. Behind the study's masculine exterior lies an elegant yet sporty interior environment that exudes premium quality and funky design. The instrument panel of the MINI study is defined by its distinctive, concave forms and the sporting yet functional impression it creates. The central air vents, Central Speedo and gearshift lever feature outer rings in a contrasting colour while large side air vents underline the MINI character still further.
The slim centre console, which maximises legroom for the driver and front passenger, coalesces into the Centre Rail pioneered by the MINI Countryman, thereby creating a visual and functional link between the front and rear seats. This unique and innovative U-profile rail system runs along the centreline of the passenger compartment as far as the rear seat backrests. Light shades of leather lend an expression of luxurious allure to the interior of the MINI Paceman, while a new interpretation of the brand's familiar elliptical door and side trim extends along the length of the cabin, taking in the B-pillar and emphasising the length of the interior. Shaped armrests with large stowage compartments, ergonomically designed door pulls and the speakers for the sound system are embedded in the main element of this ellipse.
Behind the front sports seats are two comfortably-shaped individual rear seats designed with backrests that merge distinctively into the seat sides in order to create fully contoured passenger support. The "club lounge" character thus created underlines the individual and unconventional nature of the MINI Paceman Concept and helps turn every journey into an experience for the rear passengers every bit as much as it is for those in the front.
Drive system: powerful and efficient.
The MINI Paceman Concept has been designed to allow the deployment of the most powerful engine currently available in the MINI palette. The MINI John Cooper Works 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine gives the MINI Paceman Concept the capacity to deliver the outstanding performance its appearance promises. This 16 valve, four cylinder unit develops 211 hp and generates maximum torque of 260 Nm (192 lb-ft), the latter value having the capacity to reach 280 Nm (207 lb-ft) in brief bursts thanks to the Overboost function.
Its MINI Countryman roots give this new MINI concept study an ideal platform for the MINI ALL4 permanent all-wheel-drive system. ALL4 features an electromagnetic centre differential positioned directly on the final drive which varies the distribution of power seamlessly between the front and rear axles. In normal driving conditions up to 50 per cent of the drive is sent to the rear wheels, but in extreme situations as much as 100 per cent can be directed to the rear.
The MINI Paceman Concept is, of course, also available in two wheel drive form but harnessing the power of the punchy four-cylinder engine in all-wheel-drive form offers an extra dose of driving fun through a traction-led, sporting expression of the agile handling for which MINI is famed.
Chassis: the best handling characteristics in the segment.
MINI chassis technology has been especially developed for the MINI Paceman Concept to transform the potential of its potent engine into a driving experience that offers inspiring agility, impressive poise and always in complete safety. While it delivers precise and sporting handling it is the high standard of compliant ride comfort that truly sets the MINI Paceman Concept apart.
The front axle features MacPherson spring struts with lower track control arms which, combined with Electric Power Steering with speed-sensitive power assistance, plays a major role in delivering the response and agility customers expect from a MINI. The Paceman's multi-link rear axle was developed using proven BMW Group chassis expertise and is designed for use in both the front-wheel-drive and the ALL4 all-wheel-drive versions of the car.
MINI Paceman Concept: an idea ahead of the game – once again.
The MINI Paceman Concept embodies the idea of an incomparable driving experience in a way that meets the needs of modern, lifestyle-oriented customers but it also remains true to the character of the MINI brand.
"With the MINI Countryman having already opened up a fascinating new avenue in the expansion of the brand family, the designers are now tapping into the potential of its state-of-the-art drive technology and flexible space concept to develop additional market opportunities in a coupé sibling," explained Jochen Goller.
"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," he concluded.