After giving the Paceman Concept the production nod early last year, MINI debuted the 2013 Paceman just a few months ago in September. That vehicle will go on sale in the United States next year, but before it does MINI wants to show what's possible when the Paceman beefs up. The John Cooper Works Paceman will make its official world debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in January, but MINI decided to pull the covers off a month early for internet gawkers.
The Paceman's 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder backs the four wheels with the power of 208 horses. Max torque is listed at 207 lb-ft (281 Nm) with the Paceman's ALL4 all-wheel-drive system using an electromagnetic center differential to distribute power to the wheels. Under normal circumstances, the JCW Paceman prowls the streets as a front-wheel drive, but when things get slick – say on an icy winter morning – the ALL4 system powers the rear wheels to keep things moving smoothly.
The driver can lord over gear selection with the standard six-speed manual, leave it to MINI with the six-speed automatic, or split the difference with the Steptronic manual-shift function on the latter. Whatever gearbox the driver chooses, the John Cooper Works Paceman will sprint to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 6.5 seconds on the way to a top speed for the U.S. model of 127 mph (204 km/h).
Of course, no one is going to simply straight-line their JCW Paceman all day, so the car has been tuned to deliver "visceral racing thrills" at every turn. Tweaks include a MacPherson spring-strut front axle, central-arm rear axle, electric power steering and a high-performance braking system. MINI has also lowered the suspension, optimized the spring/damper set-up and added a sports exhaust system. The Sport button on the center console lets the driver quickly alter engine response, soundtrack and steering.
The vehicles has been fitted out with an aerodynamic kit with bespoke side skirts and front and rear aprons. The body is offered in a choice of nine colors, including Chili Red. John Cooper Works makes itself known with logos on the radiator grille, tailgate, on the door sill strips and next to the side indicators. A set of 18-inch light-alloy wheels connect the mini-coupe to the ground.
Inside, the John Cooper Works treatment includes red contrast stitching, cloth sports seats in carbon black trim, dark-colored dials and a John Cooper Works logo on the sports steering wheel.
After making its debut in Detroit next month, the John Cooper Works Paceman will roll onto the market in March, the same month the standard Paceman will go live.