Tale of two Minis: Countryman, Paceman get facelift as new hatch arrives
It is a bit confusing, so I better explain. There is a brand new MINI hatch (3dr for now; 5dr in the autumn). It is built on a new platform in Oxford.
At the same time they are giving a mid-life facelift to other models, the Countryman and Paceman, from the existing lineup.
So you have ‘brand new’ and ‘facelift’ on sale at the same time.
Strange. Basically the Countryman 5dr crossover will continue for another three or four years and the Paceman ‘sports activity vehicle’ for maybe longer.
In all honesty the facelifts and revisions don’t amount to an awful lot in real terms - with a coupe of major exceptions.
The engines are all EURO6 standard now, some are more powerful and all have lower emissions. (And I thought a couple of the new colours were fetching. Watch out for Jungle Green).
There is more equipment and the price has gone up a bit. The Countryman Cooper D old Model cost €28,760 on the road; the new one comes in at €28,950. The Paceman Cooper D used to cost €29,980 and now starts at €28,950.
I had a great drive in the revised versions of both, across the 16km to Öresund bridge and tunnel that connect Denmark and Sweden and back.
The Countryman with its five doors (it was the first MINI to have that number) and crossover profile seems to have struck a chord with buyers as it now accounts for one-in-three MINI sales worldwide.
The Paceman is effectively a 3dr variant and I more or less dismissed it as an irrelevant piece of MINI fantasy until I drove the John Cooper Works version. Now that was one fun drive. Great piece of work. Mad money but fun. On a more practical level I was surprised with the amount of room in the Countryman. I hadn’t been in one for some time. Even with two large blokes out front, there was plenty of room for passengers in the back.
And it was good to get a feel for the all-wheel-drive ALL4 on both our Cooper S (optional) and John Cooper Works (standard).
Among the more powerful engines was our Cooper S (up to 190bhp) emissions are lower on them all.
A 6spd manual transmission is standard. You can have an optional 6spd automatic on all except the One D Countryman.
They say it’s quieter in the cabin and that displays and controls have been redesigned. Minimal difference on both counts to me.
It was wonderful to have wifi in the Countryman. There’s a lot of connectivity and applications now.
The Paceman’s diesels, the Cooper SD (143bhp) and Cooper D (112bhp) are tweaked to have more pull in mid range.
But the cracker is the John Cooper Works with muscle upped to 218bhp in the 4cyl 1.6-litre turbo petrol. ALL4 all-wheel drive is standard.
Sometimes a little change is enough to make a big difference and in just driving these spruced-up versions it was hard to deny that old or new MINI, there is something about the drive that sets them that bit apart.