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Filed under: Performance, Hatchback, Mini, First Drives

The One Mini Should Have Taken Rallying

It needs to be said: Mini using the Countryman as their World Rally Championship racer's bodystyle of choice has done them no favors on the marketing front. And that's what it's all about in motorsports these days: marketing and image. We have just driven the 2014 Mini John Cooper Works Paceman All4 through Frankfurt's surrounding rural areas, and even in thick snow where few souls dared to tread, it has singularly rekindled some faith in the John Cooper Works sub-brand - a glorious name whose credibility has been threatened by portly and somewhat pointless products like the JCW Countryman.

The JCW Paceman is a little quicker than its Countryman relative, a little lighter, hunkered down lower, and better looking. We can't say we're crazy anymore about the stock Chili Red details and black exterior they keep showing us at these launches, but that's just paint. Then there's that projected pricing of $36k-plus that puts us on the verge of yelling "¡No mas!" But the All4 system on our 215-horsepower Paceman worked extremely well when paired with a set of exceptional Pirelli Sottozero Winter 210 Serie II tires (sized 205/55 R17 91H all around). The combination of all-wheel drive and good rubber encouraged us to gradually up the average speed and enthusiasm the further we drove along.

And the JCW hunkers four-tenths of an inch lower on its standard sport-tuned dampers and springs. This is just the start of why the hip point and yaw point - and all those other points - render the Paceman JCW's driving so satisfying. Whereas the electro-assisted steering on some of the lower-slung Minis has suffered slightly since the very first incarnations of those models, the Paceman seems to work with it. We were forcing oversteer coming into several of the day's curves, and the steering and sheer physics of the chassis readily obliged. Just get your inner ear in sync with the 3,252-pounder's lateral momentum and you're golden. The odd center handbrake is calibrated not to really snap the car around at will, but we learned to muscle it and deal with the onboard chorus of chimes warning us that we were using the handbrake as a handbrake.Continue reading 2014 Mini John Cooper Works Paceman All4

2014 Mini John Cooper Works Paceman All4 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Mar 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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