The Paceman is based on the current Mini Countryman, using the same platform and floor structure and the same inner structure up to and including the bulkhead. The car also uses the same windscreen as the Countryman, although it's had 20mm shaved off its height. From the screen rearwards, the Paceman gets an entirely new exterior. It's 4110mm long, marginally more than the Countryman, even though the front bumper is 20mm shorter.
The car's long doors are newly designed and have allowed the Mini design team to incorporate a rising window line, which flows into the new rear wing. This further kicks up towards the roof, giving the Paceman a much wedgier and dynamic profile than its sister car. There's also a marked shoulder over the rear wheels, which pushes the rear windows of cabin inwards, giving a sportier, more coupe-like feel and emphasising the width of the car’s rear tracks.
However, outgoing Mini design boss Gert Hildebrand says that there's no loss of shoulder room in the rear cabin compared to the Countryman. Unlike most coupes, the Paceman is also set to have significant rear legroom and more than adequate headroom.
As well as the rising waistline, the Paceman has a sloping version of the Mini family’s 'capped' roof which, combined with the rising waistline, further reduces the size of the side windows, emphasising the Mini’s 'three-layer' design theme of roof, windows and bodyside. The car’s C-pillar is tinted the same colour as the glass to give the impression of complete wrap-around glazing.
However, the big break from modern Mini tradition comes at the rear of the car. The vertical shutlines and vertical sheet metal that characterise the other models in the range have been replaced by a surface that’s much softer and more flowing.
Unexpectedly, Hildebrand and his team have dumped the rule that said Mini tail-lights are vertical and surrounded on all sides with painted bodywork. The Paceman's lights are substantial and cut right across into the tailgate, resulting in a most un-Mini-like rear elevation. However, the combination the wide track, sloping roof and narrower glasshouse means the rear wheels are well outboard of side windows, and it all combine to make the Paceman look extremely purposeful from the rear.
Inside, the concept uses the same interior as the Countryman (including the elliptical door trim design) but it will have redesigned seats in quilt-stitch tan leather front and rear. The two rear seats will be individually shaped, but manufactured in one piece, very similar to the layout in the VW Scirocco. Despite the coupe styling, the front seats will continued to be mounted higher than in a conventional road car.
The concept gets some very effective exterior touches in the copper-coloured fillet on the front wing and leather trim on the door handle and filler cap. The bronze colouring is repeated on the wheel’s rims. The roof colour ‘cold white’, a white with a blueish tinge. The body colour is ‘Jaded Green’ (in the sense of the stone, rather than design team's lack of morale) and is said to be based on the colour of a 1950s Jaguar. However, the shade is also very reminiscent of the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato cars and Autocar understands that the design team did look at equipping the Paceman concept with a Zagato-style 'double-bubble' roof.
When the Paceman arrives in production form, it will be the most expensive Mini so far. Prices are likely to start from £22,000 for a front-drive version, rising to £26,000 and beyond.