MINI drops a JCW Paceman in Detroit
This performance version of the crossover coupe may be one MINI too many.
MINI has been propagating pint-sized cars like rabbits. The company has spun off at least four new models in the past two years and doesn't appear to be slowing down.
Now, the latest addition to the MINI herd, a 2-door crossover called the Paceman, gets its own John Cooper Works version, which made its debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week.
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2013 MINI John Cooper Works Paceman
What is it? A higher-performance version of MINI's new Paceman crossover coupe with modifications by the John Cooper Works in-house performance division.
What's hot? It has the same recipe for speed as the six other John Cooper Works MINIs: a more powerful engine, a lowered suspension and aerodynamic add-ons. The soul of the John Cooper Works Paceman is a 208-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which enables a zero-to-60 mph sprint in 6.5 seconds.
The suspension is 10 millimeters lower and has revised spring and damper rates for a tauter ride. The wheels are 18 inches in diameter. All-wheel drive is standard and prioritizes power to the front wheels. A 6-speed manual transmission is also standard; an automatic with the same number of gears is optional. The interior gets special trim and fancier seats.
What's not? The whole concept of a crossover coupe. Its added height clashes with the purpose of a sleek 2-door. Also, the short wheelbase, stiff suspension and low-profile tires may make this crossover a rough rider.
How much and when? It will go on sale in mid-March. The JCW Paceman will start at $36,200.
MSN Autos' verdict: Good on MINI for successfully spinning off so many variants from the original and inherently excellent Cooper hatchback. The world needs more cars with flair and panache. But the John Cooper Works Paceman is stretching it. A crossover coupe is ridiculous enough; making it even faster and sportier as a John Cooper Works version is jumping the shark.
Matthew de Paula wanted to be an automotive journalist ever since reading his first car magazine in grade school. After a brief stint writing about finance, he helped launch ForbesAutos.com and became the site's editor in 2006. Matthew now freelances for various outlets.