Photo Gallery: MINI Paceman vs the Countryman

With the Paceman, MINI has introduced a car that is approximately the same size as the Countryman, but with arguably less versatility. So what’s the point? It comes down to style and positioning. Two doors vs four doesn’t quite tell the entire story. Seeing the two in the flesh you’re immediately struck by the proportion of the Paceman. It just feels right where the Countryman suddenly (especially sitting next to the Paceman) feels almost a bit forced. Yet there are very few examples in the automotive world of two cars sharing so much in terms of components and chassis, while driving and looking so distinctly different.

Does it work? In our minds, surprisingly, yes. The Paceman (especially in person) feels much more dynamic and sporty compared to the Countryman. But the utility of the Countryman is hard to beat right? Perhaps, but the Paceman makes do rather well. It sports a larger boot while still being able to fit four adults in relative comfort, even if head room is slightly tighter in the rear. That’s our take on the Paceman. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

(Note – this is also our first good look at the Countryman’s new rear tailgate lettering.)

  • Honestly couldn’t tell which one you were referring to in the opening paragraphs. Interchangeable, to my eyes. Had to read the rear labels to sort them out. But I’m not the target market for these things, so I’ll pipe down now.

  • TBH, seeing the paceman next to it actually makes the countryman looking a little narrower and more proportionally like the hatch. Ive wondered for ages the one thing wrong with the Paceman in my eyes and ive finally worked it out. Its the step-up in the back plastic trim behind the doors, it makes isnt as fluid a transition to a sloping line as the roof and almost makes the rear look tacked on. I love the looks, but i think thats one thing that could be addressed

    • Veggivet

      Spot on! I test drove an automatic All 4 Paceman today, and was impressed overall with respect to handling and power. Headroom was a bit tight in the rear buckets, (I am just over 6 foot), and the rear seats don’t fold down flat. The step-up black plastic trim behind the doors really detracts from the lines of the car. Additionally, the door crease is higher and much more noticeable than on the Countryman, which I feel also detracts from its lines. Most people won’t notice these things, but I may wait until the third generation MINI debuts early next year…

  • John

    Two things, the photo gallery link is the URL for the article.

    Also, is this a sign that the CM will be getting blazing red as a color option?

  • p912guy

    I have never been a fan of the Countryman and would have never considered purchasing one, the Paceman is a different story. I would be interested in a JCW Paceman with the BMW 2.0 liter and 4wd please. Might make a nice competitor for the Golf R.

    • stew

      Really? I’m a huge MINI fan but that will Cost over £30K and lets face it for that you can get some serious cars.

  • m8o

    More power and integrated roof rails and the Paceman would be perfect. The former [even if only in JCW form] is pretty much mandatory before I’ll buy one [BMW, just give us the N20 already!]. But the the lack of the latter [roof rails] is a major oversight and omission which would have me questioning any purchase.

    This coming from someone who owns an ’09 JCW and makes use of his roof rack and most every inch of the 13 cubic foot container I put ontop when I travel. Since neither the Paceman or Countryman’s internal luggage space makes up for that (only about10cuft more internal space) I believe I’d still need roof storage; and even if I don’t use the roof rack for luggage, I would use it for bicycles. So I’m curious about the roof rack solution for the Paceman, and hope it’s not implemented the same way as on mine.

    • Nick Dawson

      Roof rails on the PM are available as an option at the time of ordering.

  • hoq1

    the Countryman looks more like a “proper” SUV while the Paceman looks… well… “stretched.” Its not offensively bad, just a little off….

  • Here’s a look at one on the street from yesterday (courtesy of MINI of Chicago)

    http://instagram.com/p/XQNThTRnAO/

  • NWoods

    I had the opportunity of driving a Paceman all weekend and have to say that i LOVE it. I’ve driven a MINI hatch since 2002 as my only car and must say, although it does feel bigger, this MINI is a blast to drive! The proportion is right. The styling is right. People loved it everywhere I went. Kudos to MINI.

  • Captain

    If you do not need the ALL4, I believe the Clubman is a better use of boot space/utility and retains more of the driving characteristics that make the coupe so endearing. The Pacemen/Countryman provide more comfortable seating for adults in the rear, but how many times a year do you have adults sitting behind you and is it worth the compromise? Clearly the US market has spoken as the Clubman is outsold in droves by the Countryman. I am curious to see whether the Paceman cannibalizes the Clubman further.

    • I tend to agree. The Clubman is a real sweet spot in the lineup. With AWD looking likely for the F56, the idea of a future AWD Clubman sounds REALLY appealing. Especially in higher output JCW configuration. Best of both worlds?

      • that.guy

        Agreed. I would have purchased an AWD JCW Clubman long ago.

        • Captain

          Bingo. Me too.

      • Best of both worlds indeed!

  • AMS

    I’m not really the target market for either of these vehicles, but if they sell well enough to support not only their own existence, but also the continuation of other models that I dig more, then I am 100% in support of them.

    It seems like lately, outside of MINI-specific websites like this one, all I read about new MINI models is hatehatehate. Like Jalopnik declaring the Paceman to be too big to work as an urban exploration car. WTF? Is the Kia Soul too big for cities? Is the Nissan Cube? The Juke? Hell, the Ford Focus? Just because the Countryman and Paceman are bigger than the MINI hardtop doesn’t mean they’re actually big. It’s absurd.

  • Jan Wojcik

    Drove the Paceman when it came out and went out the next week and bought a Golf R. I have had a MCS and MCCS, which I really enjoyed, but, the Paceman is overwhelmed in it’s current form by weight and lack of carrying capacity and generalized lack of fun factor. Unfortunate as I Really wanted to like it, but from a practical sense it just didn’t make the grade.

  • planeguy96

    The Paceman/Countryman is not a competitor to the Golf (especially an R) any more than a SUV would be accurately compared to a Minivan. The R6X is a MINI alternative to a Rav4 or CRV, not to be compared to a small hatchback. thats what the R5X is for.

    The Paceman is a unique and compelling offering for the segment that it is intended for. If you aren’t shopping for a car in that segment (small SUV/CUV) then you aren’t looking for a R6X anyway. If you do consider the segment, then there is no option more sporty and inspiring than the R6X

    • Nailed it.

      • plugboots

        Kind of. We considered all AWD MT hatchbacks, no matter what marketing calls them. A Clubman with AWD, woulda been in the mix if… Bought a Golf R.

    • Jan Wojcik

      I would disagree…. I have been looking for an AWD small vehicle and the Paceman and Golf are both about the same size and weight. I believe that one can’t view the Paceman as a cheaper alternative to the Evoque as it just doesn’t have the off-road capability. You can’t compare the Paceman to the Tiguan, which as a CUV has higher ground clearance and has significantly more space. The 4 passenger status effectively dumps it into the same league as the Golf R due to its seating capacity, size and weight.

      • planeguy96

        I certainly see the appeal and the market for the Golf. But like I said, If you are looking for 4 wheels and 3 rows then you might cross shop a Suburban and a Sienna. Sure, people do that….but they are completely different vehicles for different people, not direct competitors.

        The MINI is not about off-road and ground clearance. Its about a unique and sporty experience in the segment…..Take the Tiguan since it is a comparison I know well and is the sportiest of the CUV segment IMO..to my recollection…5in difference wheelbase, but 9in difference in overall length and Tig has like 10cf more cargo space. (bigger is not better to the MINI buyer) MINI offers 2 doors and four buckets in the paceman something nobody else offers, a lower CG is a good thing and the handling and feel is far more sporty, and the ability to have individual options galore in a MINI is a huge X factor to me. I can add xenons to my base paceman for $500 if I wish and not hand over 8k for the SEL Tiguan, which is the only trim in which they are available on the Tig

        The R6X is a MINI CUV…. it will be small, it will be the smallest in the segment…Ideally much smaller, thats the brand ethos. It will offer a sporty feel and a quirky experience…Its not intended to be mass market

        I feel like when the 4dr F56 comes out this misplaced comparison will become more obvious as the 4dr Golf will actually have a suitable MINI competitor.

        • Jan Wojcik

          Market speak aside, as I have stated the PM cannot be compared to current CUV as it has woefully inadequate space for anybody looking buy a CUV. There are not many AWD 2dr hatchbacks to compare to … the Golf R is the prime suspect and it trounces the PM in terms of space,performance and exclusivity. It is also interesting in how MINI lists the space of the PM with the seat down, yet lists the cargo space for the Golf with the seats up…really?

        • There’s one critical thing no one has mentioned in all this comparison talk: just simply liking one car more than the other. The Golf R is a perfectly fine car that on paper may compare well or even exceed the Paceman. Yet for a lot of people, they just don’t like the Golf. Just like lots of people just don’t like the Paceman. It’s interesting how often the emotional connection made with a car isn’t talked about as part of the purchase decision. We all know (especially MINI fans) that it plays a huge role in what we actually buy, yet the discussion is always about specs and “horsepower per dollar” and other malarky that doesn’t really matter when you live with a car day in and day out. What matters is whether or not you love the car. We can argue all day long about which is the “better” car for one reason or the other, but I for one have never bought the “better” car unless it was a car I really liked. In this case, I’d rather have a Paceman simply because I like it better. It’s more interesting, and I like the MINI brand. How it compares in terms of this esoteric spec or that one doesn’t really matter to me. And I’d wager that for the majority of MINI buyers, it doesn’t really matter to them either. MINI is much more about an experience package than winning every single spec battle. That’s why JCWs don’t have 300 hp, for example. And in the end, I think you either like that package or you don’t. If you like the Golf better, by all means buy one (which you obviously did, Jan). If you like the Paceman better (which I personally do), then that’s fine too. A car doesn’t have to be “better” in order to be great.

        • Jan Wojcik

          Quite true, just disappointed as I do like my wife’s MCS and miss my own and was hoping to be in another MINI. I whole heatedly agree that the passion for certain vehicles makes all of better and more interesting. VAG has definitely pursued a difficult course to accept… just look at the comments on the Golf 7 section of VWVortex ! I fear that the marketing types in VAG and BMW appear to care less and less for those of us who love to drive.

        • Nick Dawson

          You are absolutely right when you say that the most important thing about choosing a car is that you have to like it. The Paceman is not a bad car, and in some ways is quite a good car, but by no stretch of the imagination is it a great car. It has never been in dispute that the VW Golf is the class leader in its market segment, and the new MK 7 Golf has moved the game on even further. Within hours of being unveiled, internationally acclaimed auto industry observers around the World gave the MK 7 Golf the thumbs up. HIS Automotive Research, forecasts that annual sales of the new Golf will swell by a fifth to 650,000.

          VW really knows its onions with the Golf, and has built more than 29 million of them since 1974, but the sheer breadth of its dynamic capabilities has surprised everyone. It has a superbly refined ride, low levels of wind, engine and road noise, show room appeal by the bucket load and an interior to die for. It might look similar to the MK 6, but underneath it has VW’s all-new MQB platform that is 220lbs lighter but still packs in auto-park assist, fatigue sensors and crash avoidance sensors.

          So where does this leave the dear little Paceman. As a huge fan of MINI, it pains me to say it, but the PM is completely out of its depth. Despite that silly marketing label ‘Sports Activity Coupe’, it is a three door hatch, and BMW has clearly targeted the Golf, and has unashamedly copied the rear horizontal tail-lights and the shape of the lower edge of the tail-gate, and offers plaid seat coverings! There the similarity ends. By comparison the PM has controversial looks, a harsh ride, generates unacceptable levels of road, engine and wind noise, and has a cramped and lower quality interior, all for the same money.

          So buy a Paceman if you really like it, but do so in the knowledge that there are much better cars out there for the same money in that same market segment, and the best of them all is the MK 7 Golf. As you know, BMW has acknowledged this by designing an all new front wheel drive platform which will eventually underpin all of the 1-series. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them.

        • planeguy96

          I couldn’t agree more Nathaniel. I am a MINI owner today because the original R53 inspired me. Not because it out performed the WRX or was faster or bigger than something…..It was different and unique. Now 10yrs later when I see a WRX or Celica GT (the two main car I cross shopped) I am SO glad I did not buy one of those unremarkable cars.

        • planeguy96

          So you are saying that you don’t like it because its a MINI…..Would you be so kind to tell me how this critique does not apply to the R56?

  • Jon

    I’ve heard the Countryman-to-Golf or Paceman-to-Golf comparison over and over again on this site and many others, but have yet to see a single photograph of either of these vehicles from MINI next to a Golf from VW. It’d sure be nice to see a comparison photos of the front, side and rear views of these new big MINIs next to the VW Golf, so we can actually get the scale of these MINIs. I just cannot understand their scale! Motoringfile, can you do any digging for us?

    • The Golf and the Paceman are nearly identical in size and weight. Otherwise they are very different cars intended for very different purposes. What’s most important, I think, to understand about how they relate to each other is that a lot of people who simply hate the R60 and R61 for their own reasons talk about them like they’re huge, and they just aren’t.

      • Jon

        Thanks, Nathaniel, but I keep hearing that they’re the same size and weight. While that is certainly useful information, it is the actual physical scale I’m wanting to see, in a true 1-to-1, apples-to-apples photographic comparison. The MINI fraternal twins (CM and PM) just look so tall; almost like the first-generation Toyota RAV-4 or Honda CR-V.

        • Well I’m going to leave it to you to visit your local MINI and VW dealers on that one. 😉

    • MF’rJones

      That’s because the Countryman/Paceman can’t hold a candle to the GTI/R……

  • Aurel

    I really dig the Paceman but it feels less the part in white … and being next to the Countryman isn’t doing either one favors.

    • Gary

      Agreed…and it makes the wheel gap seem downright cavernous.

  • Mr Remi

    What would one consider to be the benefits of a Paceman JCW over a GTI/R?

    To me, ascetics is the most obvious.

  • hi please reply thank you

    Why are the tail pipes hideously so small????? Really.

    In terms of Lap times, how much slower does the Countryman or Paceman lap the nurburing than a R56 Hatch?

  • Don Hopings

    I could have done without the name on the back. Very un-MINI in my estimation…

    • Kev50027

      I too find the name on the back to be hideous. The back of these cars looks more like a billboard than a car. They might as well sell it with flags sticking out from the windows and a built in MINI spotlight on the roof that shines the logo into the clouds. What really bugs me is that otherwise the Paceman looks great. Sure, the plastic hitch behind the door looks dumb, but the shape of the car is sporty.

  • Nick Dawson

    Gabe – you mention above that the Paceman has a bigger boot that the Countryman, but not only does the CM visually and obviously have the larger boot, the brochure I was given by my local MINI dealer states 350/1170 for the CM and 330/1080 for the PM.