By on December 19, 2010

When BMW relaunched the Mini brand in 2001 with a modern interpretation of Alex Issigonis’s classic, it made a big splash by proving that high-end customers would pay top dollar for a well-branded subcompact car. The only problem was that not everyone could live with the Cooper’s size limitations, so BMW extended its wheelbase and added an third suicide door, creating the Clubman. The Clubman did not make the kind of impact that BMW hoped, as it turned out that four doors were as important as the Clubman’s extra space. Accordingly, BMW developed a four-door “SUV” for the MINI brand, giving it a potential brand boost in the size-obsessed US market. Now, for reasons that are difficult to fathom, MINI is previewing a two-door concept version of the Countryman known as the “Paceman.” Because customers have been clamoring for the (relative) inefficiency of the Countryman paired with the (relative) impracticality of the Clubman? Or because Land Rover just debuted its own “Sports Activity Coupe” and MINI can’t help but chase the pointless niche with its own me-too offering? No prizes for guessing…

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18 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Pacemaker Edition...”

  • avatar

    That’s kind of funny because I think I’m one of the people you’re puzzled about. As someone who has a tendency to back trouble and who is also nearing the end of middle age, I would actually consider both the Countryman and the Pacemaker in my next vehicle purchase. I only need a car for going back and forth to work (the old Jetta Wagon is getting a bit hard to lower myself into), but I also need one roomy enough to carry the family if the van is in the shop
    Pacemaker may actually be a good name for my type of clientele, as it is a car that might have a high enough h-point to allow easy access while at the same time giving the old ticker something to get excited about.

  • avatar

    That’s a rather attractive design. It all depends on the actual size and if they keep the wonky dash.

    • 0 avatar

      I think people get too wrapped around the axle about the MINI dashboard.  My wife has had an MCS for nearly 6 years and we don’t see a single problem with it.  I would transition to and from it from my well ergo’d Toyota and VW with no trouble.

  • avatar

    Hmm, a smallish AWD coupe with decent power, fuel efficiency and a certain panache – maybe I am losing it, but this Mini strikes me positively and I’d give it a look when I am ready to jump out of my Mk1 TT.

  • avatar

    I have to give BMW the fiscal benefit of the doubt here. They, along with the division formerly known as Porsche, seem to know exactly how many customers there are for every sub-niche. How tasteful or well-designed the product intended to fill that sub-niche is varies, considerably.
    That being said, ugh.

  • avatar

    If automakers would/could build passenger cars that didn’t scrub on parking detents when pulling into parking spaces an inch too-far– no one would be buying a crossover right now. Crossovers can be driven on normal roads, without taking that extra time to preserve their appearance, or to spare expense in bumper repair/replacement.
    Modern passenger cars mangle their bumpers whenever you don’t approach every difference in grade sideways. Personally, I’m super mega extra sick of approaching every turn onto a hill at a 45 degree angle.
    This car is for me, except I can’t get over that ass-ugly dashboard.

  • avatar

    Except for the really blunt nose (damn Euro pedestrian laws), this doesn’t look too bad, though it is kind of wide. However, they shouldn’t have let it out in public with that band-aid under the A-pillar. Razor nick?

  • avatar

    Pointless? POINTLESS? Bbbbut my business case!

  • avatar

    I don’t get it.  MINI/BMW has teamed up with SAAB for small engines and small cars.  Now this Paceman is very clearly what a small SAAB would look like, outside of the front end treatment, obviously. 

    This thing actually looks good!  It should be a SAAB!

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    When I took at it I’m reminded of a 1971 Mustang compared to the original.
    Sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone.

  • avatar

    I dunno…they may be on to something here.  I don’t know how well the Countryman will do, but I could see this being an appealing choice for some people. I might even consider one later on if they hold up well.
    I bought the Clubman over the regular Cooper, so I don’t have the purist cred to gripe about this.  But I think you might find it more successful than the Countryman in the end.

  • avatar

    Now I comprehend why BMW is refusing to introduce 1 series hatch back in US.

  • avatar

    Wait! I notice something probably won’t make it to final production – the leather tag at the fuel cap.

  • avatar

    Deleting 2 doors makes sense in Europe as they are often more popular than 5 doors.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the Countryman is a selling out at the moment. So MINI are clearly doing something right.

  • avatar

    This one will run $30k easily – too rich for my blood.

  • avatar

    I am wondering the size in person.  It does look cool tho.

  • avatar

    I’ve got an idea. They could paint it yellow and add a red bow and red grill. Then you’d have the Ms. Paceman.

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