Review by Jeff Wilson and Peter Bleakney, photos by Rob Smith

Range Rover Evoque Coupe vs. Mini Paceman
2013 Range Rover Evoque
2013 Mini Paceman
2013 Range Rover Evoque & 2013 Mini Paceman. Click image to enlarge

At first glance, it appears that what we have here are the automotive equivalents of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian: all style and no substance. In reality though, that assertion is a little unfair, since the Range Rover Evoque Coupe and Mini Paceman do offer some usefulness and are surely easier to live with on a daily basis.

Instead, let’s consider these stylish crossovers CUAVs – Compact Urban Assault Vehicles – perfect for big city fashionistas sashaying around traffic-clogging cityscapes as they make their way to the next pedi appointment. Condensed dimensions with elevated seating positions ensure the diva drivers will have clear sightlines, and generous suspension travel ensures inner-city craters won’t upset the skinny chai lattes in the cup holders.

Where these two hot-hatches-in-hiking boots really excel is in whisking two active urbanites out of the big city to their trendy leisure activity of choice. So, tying pastel-hued sweaters around our shoulders, Peter Bleakney and I did our best impression of what it must be like to be hip, young city-dwellers free of obligations or cares and headed out for a drive around Niagara’s wine country. Our mission was not to collect cases of award-winning Rieslings, but evaluate these vehicular anomalies on their most valuable purchase influencing factors.

Impracticality Factor, Peter Bleakney

What has four doors, eight cylinders, gets lots of stares and has a back seat you don’t want to be in?

Cop car? Good guess, but not what we’re looking for. The correct answer: a 2013 Mini Cooper S Paceman ALL4 and a 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Coupe [Is there an award for longest name that I haven’t heard about? –Ed.].

Of course no one will be choosing these compact British hatchbacks for much other than their high style – there are four-door versions of each that provide a modicum more utility. This pair is all about the look. Form reigns over function here, but how far are these funsters from any practical considerations? Can they really function as useful daily drivers? Will backseat passengers immediately un-friend you on Facebook?

Being the larger of the two (although not by as much as you’d think), the Range Rover has the most commodious rear seat – and it will seat three in a pinch (and I do mean pinch), whereas the Mini Pacemen has only two bucket seats in the back. Looking at the Evoque’s rakish silhouette, you’d be forgiven for thinking headroom was in short supply. On the contrary; once positioned, knee room and headroom are surprisingly generous and the seats nicely contoured for two – it’s just those tapered windows make for a claustrophobic feel.

You can’t be in a hurry to get back there – it takes an eternity for the front seats to electrically slide forward. Not good if you have fidgety kids friends who’ve consumed one too many espresso. In contrast, tip the Mini’s front seats ahead and they instantly slide forward, allowing quick access. As might be expected, it’s considerably tighter once you squeeze into the Paceman. For me, at just under six feet, sitting “behind myself” was next to impossible. Acceptable headroom, though.

2013 Range Rover Evoque2013 Range Rover Evoque2013 Mini Paceman2013 Mini Paceman
2013 Range Rover Evoque & 2013 Mini Paceman. Click image to enlarge

An interesting feature of the Mini Paceman (that could qualify as functional) is the cool rail-system separating the seats. Elements like cup holders and a sunglasses case slide on the rails in an industrial urban-chic way, but the whole thing feels so cheap and flimsy I was afraid to mess with it for fear of breaking something.

Space behind the rear seats in the Mini is fine for a load of groceries, some overnight bags, and even a small set of golf clubs. Flip up the floor panel and there is a good-sized hidden compartment. You have to remove the headrests and the groovy cup holders on the rails (if so equipped) to fold the back seats down, and then they aren’t flat.

The Evoque has a considerably more commodious hatch and the seats fold almost flat, although there is no compartment under the floor.

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