From £16,320
If you can live with the striking looks and driving appeal is a priority, it’s worth considering

Our Verdict

Mini Coupé
Can the Mini formula work on a two-seat, overtly sporting coupé?

Does the Mini Coupe stretch the brand too far, or can it make a convincing case for itself?

  • First Drive

    Mini Coupé Cooper SD

    Ultra-torquey diesel Mini Coupe Cooper SD looks much like hardcore JCW but gives a calmer, more civilised drive
  • First Drive

    Mini Coupé Cooper S

    If you can live with the striking looks and driving appeal is a priority, it’s worth considering
6 June 2011

What is it?

A Mini model set to appeal to male buyers more than any other. At least, that’s what Mini is saying about its new Coupe – the fifth model to join its line-up since its revival in 2001.

The distinctively-styled two-door follows on from the hatchback, cabriolet, Clubman and Countryman, with UK sales set to get underway in October.

First previewed at the Frankfurt motor show back in 2009, the Coupe has progressed from concept to production car stage with remarkably few changes. The basis for the new car, including its complete lower body, is the existing cabriolet, to which Mini’s design team has added a completely new upper section and large liftback style tailgate at the rear – both of which provide it with unique visual appeal.

Inspired by classic independently produced Mini based coupes from companies such as Broadspeed, Marcos and Midas, the new Coupe is not exactly elegant – not in the traditional sense, anyway. However, it manages to stand out from the small car crowd – and for many prospective buyers this will clearly count more than anything else.

The styling works well from some angles, but less so from others. From what we’ve seen so far, the appearance also seems to be very colour dependent. And being a Mini, there’s a wide range of exterior schemes to choose from.

What’s it like?

Mini’s aim with the Coupe was to create a car that went one better than the hatchback in terms of overall driver appeal. However, the need to use as many carry over components as possible in a bid to make the new car profitable mean the mechanical package is virtually the same – and in many respects the way it drives, too.

The low roof makes entry a little more difficult than in the hatchback, but the seats are set low enough to ensure even tall drivers can be accommodated without any head room issues, thanks in part to a scalloped out headliner.

Although the driving position is unchanged over the hatchback, the more heavily raked windscreen and lower roof gives the Coupe a more sporting air from the driver’s seat. The drawback? Vision, not least to the rear which is restricted by the shallow glass.

Performance wise, there’s little to criticise. The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine in the Cooper S version driven here for the first time develops 177lb ft of torque between 1600rpm and 5000rpm – including a peak of 192lb ft between 1700 and 4500rpm, providing the Coupe with a good turn of speed out of the blocks and tremendous flexibility on the run.

Mini claims 0-62mph in 6.9sec and top speed at 143mph. As with the hatchback, though, it is the in-gear acceleration that impresses the most. Plant your foot at low revs in low gears and you’re treated to solid acceleration that is all part of the Coupe’s eager nature.

Although the roof has no load bearing function, a substantial transverse beam mounted above the rear axle helps provide a level of stiffness approaching other Mini models.

First impressions, after an extended run around an Austrian driver training facility in a pre-production prototype, suggest it has succeeded, although the difference in character between the two from behind the wheel is not great. There are subtle improvements in dynamic terms, less initial roll on turn in and a more securely planted rear end when you lift off mid corner among them, just don’t expect it to provide a vastly different driving experience to its much loved sibling.

The interior of the Coupe mirrors that of the cabriolet up front – right on down to the height of its seats. The rear, however, has been completely revised, with the rear seats making way for a parcel shelf and a handy load through feature that can be accessed from the driver’s seat. The boot is 120-litres larger than that of that of the hatchback at 280-litres thanks to the lack of rear seats, but a cross member running through the floor means the load bay is not flat.

Should I buy one?

If you can live with the striking looks and driving appeal is a priority, it’s certainly worth considering. Pricing is yet to be announced. But the Mini Coupe retains all the fundamentals that have made the hatchback such an outstanding success over the past decade or so.

It’s tremendously entertaining, and with all that space up back is highly practical by two seater standards. Be warned, though, a Roadster version is also planned to join the Mini line-up in early 2012. It, we suspect, may be even more fun.

Mini Coupé Cooper S

Price: na; Top speed: 143mph; 0-62mph: 6.9sec; Economy: 48.7mpg; CO2: 136g/km; Kerb weight: na; Engine, type, cc: 1598cc turbocharged petrol; Power: 181bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 177lb ft at 1600-5000rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
35

7 June 2011

One of my earliest motoring memories is being driven round at what seemed like great speed in a Mini pick-up my dad used at work. Surely the next logical step, now they have gone this far?

7 June 2011

Struth, that's hideous!

7 June 2011

[quote McJohn]

Struth, that's hideous!

[/quote]

Totally agree - For 'striking looks', read 'pig ugly'.

I didn't mind the first 'New' Minis, but every consecutive version since has just got uglier and uglier. Have to admit I'm of the 'less is more' school.

...and don't get me started on the Clubman with it's asymmetric doors - fine for (most of) the rest of Europe, but completely loopy in the UK.

7 June 2011

[quote McJohn]

Struth, that's hideous!

[/quote] Yes, but then you like the "Aston Martin" Cygnet!

7 June 2011

BMW are clearly positioning themselves to produce the ugliest cars on the market. 5 Series GT, Mini Countryman, forthcoming 1 Series.... the list goes on. This must be their sixth successful attempt. Just seems a very odd niche to pursue.

7 June 2011

Have they done no customer research whatsoever, would any heterosexual male really want to been seen dead in that, and who named it Colin Firth? The mini cooo coo coo coo coupe coo cccc cc cooper s..

7 June 2011

[quote Autocar]A Mini model set to appeal to male buyers more than any other. At least, that’s what Mini is saying about its new Coupe[/quote]

In Germany may be where people like the Hoff are popular may be?

In the UK, this car is going to be predominantly purchased by young upwardly mobile women.

Must be the bean sprouts getting to them......

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

7 June 2011

Another non event in the so called evolution of the Mini brand.I cant see how its going to sell to men as Teg said it will be young ladies as usual.Oh and by the way its hideous!!!

Myk

7 June 2011

Sadly it looks exactly like what it is - the Cabriolet with an odd roof stuck on. There's just not enough differentiation from the normal Mini.

So the Roadster will be the Coupe with the roof taken off back off. Er... is that not just a Cabriolet with the rear seats taken out and a cut down windscreen? And of course, it'll be more expensive. Only someone like BMW could stick a roof on a convertible and then take it off again and claim it's something new and charge more for it.

7 June 2011

Ok, I'm struggling to understand...Autocar are telling me that if I can live with the rubbish looks, then the driving experience is worth it. Autocar are also telling me that there's very little difference between the driving experience in this and in the hatchback. The hatchback looks great, and will in all likelihood be cheaper. This looks like a slapped a*se.

What's the point in the Coupe then?

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