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December 2012

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MINI is a distinctive and cool car brand that’s instantly recognisable, whether you see one of the old models on the streets or a modern interpretation of the small, quirky car. Although you might think there’s not much else MINI can do, you’d be wrong, as they’ve just introduced another new addition to the line up.
Stand aside for the MINI Paceman – a coupe-style version of the MINI Countryman, according to the manufacturer. So, this means a new sporty, sleek design will be hitting the roads in the UK in March next year. Here’s a bit of information about the new arrival starting with a review from Auto Express:

Appearance 
Although the Paceman is based on the Countryman, there are some notable differences in its appearance – one of the most obvious being its low, sloped roof. Coupled with the long doors and large front grille, this gives it a very sporty look. Here’s some pics of the Paceman:

Another difference to the Countryman is that there are only two doors – although the rear seating is spacious and comfortable as there are two individual seats fitted in the back, rather than a three-person bench seat.
Inside the car you’ll find styling that fits in with the rest of the MINI range but that has its own, subtle differences, such as the controls for the windows being moved to the door armrests from the central console (although this is now also a feature in the updated Countryman models).

On the road 
As you’d expect, the Paceman is designed to be nippy – both the petrol and diesel versions can go from zero to 62 mph in under 11 seconds and if you go for the MINI Cooper S Paceman with a twin scroll turbo charger you can accelerate to this speed in 7.5 seconds.

There’s also the option of adding all-wheel drive transmission to your MINI, which only serves to enhance the handling of the car.
Even though it’s a sporty car, you can still get good fuel economy depending on the model you choose. The MINI Cooper D version, for instance, boasts 64.2 mpg and CO2 emissions of 115 g/km.

There are also a host of driver aids included as standard on the Paceman, including dynamic stability control and dynamic traction control. A range of features designed to improve the environmental credentials of this MINI are also noticeable, including auto start-stop functionality, brake energy regeneration and a shift point display.

Other MINI news 
While the introduction of the Paceman may be the biggest news from the MINI camp, there was also the announcement that a new version of the Countryman will be rolled out from November this year. Most of the changes are largely cosmetic, with new interior features like a redesigned central speedometer and air vents on the dashboard, as well as the decision to move the electric window controls to the armrest in the door, rather than leaving them in the central console.

If all this talk of updated features and new vehicles has got you yearning for a new set of cool wheels, but your finances won’t allow you to splash out on a car, consider leasing a motor instead. You can get some great deals on MINI leasing contracts if you shop around, especially if it’s for business use.
Some companies include a host of extras like breakdown cover, annual MOTs and regular services in their contract hire deals, which could save you money and will certainly save you time.

If, like me, you have a passion for adventure, you may want to think about getting an offroad motorbike. By doing so, you’ll have the freedom to explore a vast range of terrain and won’t be restricted to only wherever paved roads lead you.

This, I feel, offers the chance for you to really experience the destinations you are riding through, and I often find that sticking to streets isn’t always the best way to get an appreciation of a place’s natural beauty. Of course, an offroad motorbike is also a great choice if you fancy taking part in amateur motocross events during your free time. No matter what intentions you may have in mind when riding such vehicle, it’s important to get the model that’s right for you.
Although it should be pretty obvious that taking the time to thoroughly research what motorbike you are going to buy is something you ought to be doing at all times anyway, it is especially important to do this if you’re not going to be riding on well-maintained roads for some, if not all, of the time.

Perhaps one of the most important things to look at when buying an offroad bike – be it a Honda, KTM or a Kawasaki motorcycle – is the position of the footrests. The fact these vehicles are designed to be ridden across a variety of terrain means you should expect to spend a significant amount of time standing on top of the pegs to help you take on challenging inclines and tight turns.

Ideally, the footrests of the bike you buy ought to be situated as close to the centre line as possible, in order to assist you in navigating tricky conditions. You should also look for models that have adjustable inverted front forks, as these can be altered to suit your riding style and the conditions you are riding in wherever possible.

Certain offroad bikes also enable you to set the level of rear suspension provided and, as a general rule, you will find this tends to be significantly higher than that offer on standard sport models. Fairly often, you’ll find offroad vehicles have around 25 cm of rear suspension, roughly twice the level of their counterparts that are designed to be ridden on the road.

If you’ve never owned this kind of bike before, you’re best off buying a second-hand model. Not only does this tend to be cheaper in comparison to purchasing a brand new vehicle, but it also means they shouldn’t cost as much to repair. This is likely to be particularly beneficial as the fact you’ll be driving across more uneven terrain means you’re at greater risk of falling off your bike and damaging it.
No matter what kind of model you wish to buy or your level of experience when it comes to offroad biking, it’s always important to have a good standard of motorcycle insurance. You are, of course, required by law to have cover, but you should always ensure that the particular policy you get will financially protect you and your bike at all times.

Another vital thing all offroad bikers will need to think about is the kind of safety equipment to buy. While the law requires you to wear a helmet, I recommend you invest in a wide range of other gear, including an armoured jacket and chest protector, to help minimise the chances of sustaining a serious injury while riding.
If you’re thinking of getting an offroad motorbike, what features are most important to you? Post your thoughts below and let us know.