It’s small, perfectly formed and a lot of fun to drive – the all-new Mini Paceman packs a big punch, says Kate Ginn
They say: “The sportiness of an SUV and sexiness of a coupe make this mini a pleasure to behold and drive.”
We say: “A small car with a big attitude.”
I must confess to having a soft spot for minis. My friend’s mini was the car I learnt to drive in – and also the first car that I ever crashed (into a ditch while I was nervously navigating a corner). Thankfully, the car survived and so did our friendship.
This new kid on the Mini block is an altogether different beast to the rusty old orange Clubman that I drove all those years ago, but it retains the essence of the British brand and the same cheeky charm.
This version has a powerful look, an almost muscular athleticism that gets you itching to slip behind the wheel and take it for a spin. The makers are confident that this version, released last month (April) as the seventh model in the Mini family, will be a huge hit among fans in Oman.
The market they are also hoping to tap into is that of drivers who have been looking for a Mini that combines the twin automobile holy grails –the space of an SUV and the sleekness of a coupe. Have they achieved it? Well, mostly.
This three-door Mini, a heavily restyled version of the Mini Countryman, is a lot of fun to drive and a much-needed antidote to the towering 4x4s dominating Muscat’s roads.
It’s an extrovert little car that’s just begging to be noticed. With extensive customisation options available, from the colour of the roof to the hue of your alloy wheels, there’s every chance to make it stand out from the crowd.
It does offer a slightly elevated driving position too, if you like the idea of looking down on your fellow motorists.
While it retains the go-kart feeling, the 1.6 litre engine is no slacker and the Cooper S version, with a top speed of 217 km/h, has real zip. Expect to get a real sense of the speed you are travelling with a fair bit of wind and engine noise.
The ALL4 also allows drivers to switch between automatic and manual drive at the touch of a button.
A new elegant look includes elongated doors, large horizontal taillights and a sloping roof line. The John Cooper Works Paceman, which is due to be released next month (June), is the pumped-up version – it boasts a solid, beefy look and can reach a top speed of 225 km/h.
Inside, the Paceman is just as pleasing with plenty of gadgets to play with, as well as smartphone integration and a music system. We loved the optional Web Radio, which allows you tune into your favourite home country radio station while on the move.
Mini says it can comfortably seat four, though it does feel a little tight in the back. Although this is such a joy to drive, you may not want to share it with anyone else anyway.
* Available at Al Jenaibi International Automobile showrooms in Oman, authorised Mini importers.
Engine – 1.6 litre/4 cylinder
Horsepower – 122 /184 (Cooper Works 208)
Transmission – six-speed automatic
Top speed – 191/217/212 km/h