What A Blast! The Mini JCW Paceman
What A Blast! The Mini JCW Paceman
October 10, 2013
Sometimes jaded motoring hacks need a shot in the arm but what they crave doesn’t come out of a syringe. One day last week I had the opportunity to drive a variety of cars and they all pretty much had one thing in common - quality; but sometimes a car will come along which ignites the spark. In my case it was the car in the images - the Mini John Cooper Works Paceman.
As a former multiple Mini owner from way back my judgement may be rose-tinted, either that or some other reviewers have missed something I saw, but I enjoyed my jaunt in this car hugely like an automotive Cheshire cat. Yes, there are faster and cheaper cars in this sector and in the Mini JCW range but, just for once, we’ll let the heart rule the head.
The JCW Paceman is a big three door four-seater. I’m not going to describe it as a hot hatch because it transcends that common tag. It is absolutely loaded to the roof lining with standard kit including all the infotainment and safety gear you’d expect. The model featured has many choice options fitted as well, including some glorious 19” ‘Cross Spoke Crusher’ alloys but at an additional £1130 you may prefer the standard eighteen inchers. In fact, it’s the price that is the only issue for me. The standard JCW Paceman costs nearly £30k OTR. With the twenty-two options on the featured car the cost is an eye-watering £37,580 but that’s still equivalent to an Evoque.
Power comes from a 215bhp 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharger petrol engine. It’s not slow. It can accelerate to 62mph in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. Ride height on this version is 10mm lower than the standard Paceman, making it more fun when negotiating interesting back roads. I found in the damp conditions that the JCW has huge levels of traction thanks to the standard ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. This works brilliantly well and grip was never an issue. ‘Corners on rails’ is the old-school description.
Mini reckon that this motor will achieve 38.2mpg on the combined figure. Tell you what - you try and reach that figure with your itchy right foot and I’ll try and get a date with Cheryl Tweedy - we’ll see who gets lucky first. Thirty plus should be on the cards though. Emissions aren’t overly bad at 172g/km; in fact for a performance car I think they’ve done pretty well on the greening.
Grown men shouldn’t be interested in the following but, frankly, inside every man is a boy burning with testosterone. Try and stop your inner boy reaching for the sport button once it has been established that by flicking it the engine is tweaked for responsiveness and crucially the soundtrack burbles and crackles, especially on lifting off from the accelerator. The Cheshire Cat is back.
If you select the optional automatic gearbox and you press the magical Sport Button not only will you get the sublime noise but it also quickens up the shift times. The optional six-speed automatic gearbox comes with a Steptronic function and steering wheel shift paddles are available. Thanks to some quality insulation tyre and wind noises are well suppressed allowing the driver to savour the vocal engine. The ride is firm but the seats are comfortable and well bolstered.
Leaving aside the fun aspects of this car, it is also a practical choice. Three passengers can be accommodated although the rear accommodations are a bit tight for full-sized occupants - in which case the JCW Countryman may be the better alternative. The boot can handle 330 litres but with the seats folded this increases to a capacious 1080 litres.
This isn’t really a car to be negative about. It appeals or it doesn’t. If it does appeal and the opportunity occurs to buy a car similar to the one featured then you will buy it. The competition will fade into the background. Nothing else will do.