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Is the Paceman a Real Mini?

A view from a European’s eye.

by on Jan.12, 2011

The Mini Paceman concept vehicle.

“Mini will always remain Mini,” or so says Marcus Syring, the British brand’s new chief of design.

It may seem trite, at first, but it is a question that is being asked a fair bit, lately, as Mini steadily expands its line-up.  What was originally little more than a few subtle variants – like the Cooper S – off a single model will soon grow to at least seven with the addition of such nameplates as the Countryman.

That offering stretched the boundaries in a variety of ways.  It was the BMW subsidiary’s first 4-door, for example; its first SUV/crossover; and the first with all-wheel-drive.

Now comes the Paceman concept, which starts with the same basic platform as Countryman.  Officially just a show car, senior Mini officials don’t disguise the fact that it will soon reappear in production trim – albeit with a different name.

Making sure the resultant product fits the strict visual definition of a Mini is the challenge for Syring, who handled the exterior design together with his predecessor Gert Hildebrand and Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s head of design.