What is it?
For the time being, at least, try not to be too perturbed by the new Mini Paceman John Cooper Works’ bizarre styling or its eye-wateringly high price.
Because, beneath its monster-truck-like bodywork and £29,535 price tag, it’s a decent enough car to drive, one whose four-wheel-drive system and clever electric clutch endow it with more on-road dexterity than the Mini has had at any time in its 54-year history.
It’s quick(ish), too, thanks to the fitment of the now familiar 1.6-litre, 215bhp turbocharged engine that powers the front wheels in the Mini JCW hatchback, and all four wheels in the Mini Countryman, the car with which the Paceman shares just about all its basic underpinnings.
Mini claims a 0-60mph time of 6.9sec and a top speed of 140mph, with close to 40mpg economy in the real world. But what truly distinguishes the Paceman above and beyond its myriad brethren, says Mini, is its go-anywhere ability. This is the direct result of its new four-wheel-drive system, which can aim anything up to 100 per cent of drive at either axle, front or rear, thanks to that brainy electronic clutch.