BMW's Mini Paceman brings the half-century-old concept up to date with a full-sized tailgate, folding rear seats for greater versatility, a more modern dashboard - which some purists may not like - and optional all-wheel drive, turning it into a miniature SUV and putting in direct competition with the Lada Niva.
But wait, as they say on home-shopping TV, there's more: at the Detroit motor show in about a month, BMW will debut a Paceman with a severe case of attitude - the kind of attitude you get from overdosing on steroids.
Say hello (politely) to the Mini John Cooper Works Paceman, with an upgraded, 160kW JCW 1.6-litre turbopetrol, lowered sports suspension, aero kit and standard all-wheel drive.
And it's scheduled for South African release in June 2013.
The 1598cc, direct-injection four-cylinder powerhouse gets reinforced pistons, a lightened crank, an all-alloy block and bearing mounts, revised intake, cooling and exhaust gas discharge systems and a new, bigger intercooler.
BMW quotes 160kW at 6000rpm and 280Nm from 1900 - 5000rpm, with 300Nm available in brief bursts from 2100 - 4500rpm on overboost.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard, a six-speed auto with paddle shift is optional; either version will get to 100km/h fromn a standstill in less than seven seconds, while top speed is quoted at 226km/h for the manual and 224 for the auto.
Thanks to a gear-shift indicator, brake energy recuperation and idle stop (on manual cars) average fuel consumption is held down to a quoted 7.4 litres per 100km (7.9 for the automatic) and CO2 emissions to 172 (184) grams per kilometre.
The standard all-wheel-drive system uses an electromagnetic centre differential to distribute drive between the front and rear axles; in normal driving situations a maximum of 50 percent of the engine's power goes to the rear wheels, but that can rise to as much as 100 percent in extreme conditions.
The system's mapping is plugged directly into the dynamic stability control management unit, giving the system very short response times and allowing it to tweak the power split pre-emptively, for instance in high-speed corners, giving the JCW Paceman superb road-holding allied to typical Mini agility.
JOHN COOPER WORKS STYLING
Standard kit includes an aero kit, 18” alloys, a sports exhaust system with chrome tailpipes, and door sills carrying the John Cooper Works logo. And whatever colour you specify for your car, you can have the contrasting roof and mirror housings in black, white or red (exclusive to the John Cooper Works Paceman) along with red interior trim strips.
The sports suspension has shorter, stiffer springs and dampers, and heftier anti-roll bars, and rides 10mm lower than the 'normal' Paceman, while an electronic stability programme with traction control is standard.
The Sport button on the centre console (also standard!) allows the driver to tweak the engine's responses and soundtrack, as well as the power assistance provided by the steering - and if your car has an auto tranny, it'll also quickens up shift times.
The inside is all about usable performance, with four individual sports seats trimmed in black fabric with red contrast stitching (leather is an option) a sports steering wheel with red contrast stitching and John Cooper Works logo, dark-coloured dials for the 260km/h speedometer and rev counter, anthracite-coloured roof liner, gearshift lever with red shift pattern lettering, red contrast stitching for the gear-lever gaiter and floor mats with red stitching.
The standard issue trim strips are finished in gloss black, but you can ask for red elements in the cockpit and doors and a red stripe for the black trim strips on the centre console.
Pricing will be announced closer to launch.