From £11,350
This is the most entertaining oil-burning Mini to join the range. That it’s so frugal is a bonus

Our Verdict

Mini Hatch 2006-2014
With a higher waistline and bonnet, new Mini doesn’t look quite as good as its predecessor

The Mini Hatchback is desirable and fun, and it has great re-sale values

  • First Drive

    Mini Cooper SD

    This is the most entertaining oil-burning Mini to join the range. That it’s so frugal is a bonus
  • First Drive

    Mini Cooper S first drive review

    Revised engine brings useful performance and economy gains
25 April 2011

What is it?

Up until now, the one thing you would never look for in Mini’s diesel range is grin-making performance. With two diesel offerings of 90 and 112bhp respectively, the best that you could hope for would be a bit of liveliness around peak torque revs.

Well, the Mini Cooper SD changes all that by bringing a larger portion of power and a significantly bigger wedge of torque to the table.

The SD, which is identical to a regular petrol-powered Cooper S, ups the ante with 143bhp and 225lb ft of torque. That’s more torque than any other Mini in the range, including the John Cooper Works. On paper, it looks promising, with the 0-62mph sprint coming up in 8.1sec and a top whack of 134mph.

The engine is a turbocharged all-alloy 2.0-litre unit that does its bit to keep the weight of the Cooper SD down to just 1150kg; that’s only 10kg more than the equivalent petrol-powered Cooper S, which bodes well for the car’s dynamics, not to mention fuel economy.

What's it like?

From the first punch of the starter button, you’re in no doubt that there’s oil being burned under the bonnet; it’s not a supremely refined engine, but nor is it particularly unpleasant to live with.

At cruising speed, all that torque means that you can pretty much leave the Mini in third gear on a B-road; that gear will get you from 30 to beyond 70mph, which is a pretty decent performance envelope.

The SD feels genuinely quick, and the car’s handling is entertaining enough to make you push a little harder (you’ll not last long just cruising on a favourite road).

Riding on 17-inch wheels, the SD’s grip levels are confidence inspiring and understeer doesn’t manifest itself below mildly silly speeds. Not unexpectedly, the ride quality is a bit firm, though, especially at lower speeds.

Should I buy one?

Compared with the petrol Cooper S, the Cooper SD asks a £740 premium. That’s not bad – diesel premiums tend to be higher – and for many buyers this will make the most economic sense. So while I’d still prefer the petrol version, this is the first diesel Mini to put a genuine smile on my face. Which is good.

Gavin Conway

Mini Cooper SD

Price: £18,750; Top speed: 134mph; 0-62mph: 8.1sec; Economy: 65.7mpg; CO2: 114g/km; Kerb weight: 1150kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbodiesel; Power: 143bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 225lb ft at 1750-2700rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
12

29 April 2011

This is the same detuned version of BMW 2.0 diesel, branded as 1.8 in 1 and 3 series. It's not bad engine by any means, but it's power output was restricted as not to make 1 series and petrol Cooper S irrelevant. Imagine performance with 177 bhp. This particular engine was never the most quiet, the thing is that sound insulation in other cars it's fitted is better - 1 series (not so much) and 3 series (sounds like different engine)..

1 May 2011

[quote orandzh]but it's power output was restricted as not to make 1 series and petrol Cooper S irrelevant. Imagine performance with 177 bhp[/quote]

It' not a solely detuned engine. As ever, there are very small differences, usually to reduce costs on less powerful versions.

The 143ps N47 D20U0 has a turbine that is almost identical but it is "rated" for less stress compared to the one of the 177ps N47 D20O0. And this is the same for many other purchased components. These "detuned" engines born are really almost identical but if some savings can be made...well, they are made.

Anyway I agree with you, a 177ps diesel Mini would have embarrassed the petrol Cooper S...

1 May 2011

140hp doth not a Cooper S make.

OTOH, how much diesel torque could the chassis cope with?

3 May 2011

Is this even a story anyone cares about?? Fun car with a stupid, slow ,oil burner. Yaaaaaaawn!!!!

3 May 2011

[quote kevin2010]Is this even a story anyone cares about?? Fun car with a stupid, slow ,oil burner. Yaaaaaaawn!![/quote]

Except it's not slow and with fuel costing over £1.40/litre there will be demand.

Particularly impressed by the weight of the SD; only 10kg over a standard S is very good.

jer

3 May 2011

[quote Will86]

Except it's not slow and with fuel costing over £1.40/litre there will be demand.

Particularly impressed by the weight of the SD; only 10kg over a standard S is very good

[/quote]

In this case weight seems not so much a penalty but but the small rev range and tricky to modulate torque boost usually makes for less of a sports car. The petrol is still failry parsimonious and extra costs are partly offset by petrol being 7% cheaper. Always amazed that someone spending £20k on a car would worry about a few hundred quid on fuel. Pick the one that is the nicest to use.

3 May 2011

[quote jer]Always amazed that someone spending £20k on a car would worry about a few hundred quid on fuel. Pick the one that is the nicest to use.[/quote]

Depends on what you do with it. I paid £25K for my nearly-new 320D Touring rather than getting a petrol one or another 5-series which I had previously. Doesn't mean I have money to burn. The lower fuel consumption and CO2 rating on the 320D compared with a petrol 3-series or a 530D amount to around £1,100 a year, on fuel and road tax, because I need to travel a lot. I keep my cars for at least 100,000 miles which is usually between three and four years in my hands. Switching to a more economical daily-driver has enabled me to keep on paying the running costs of my old Porsche weekend car despite today's higher fuel prices.

jer

3 May 2011

[quote Submariner Redux] Depends on what you do with it.[/quote]

To true but we are talking about a Mini which are are bought not as mile munchers and more for their fun factor.

I don't know the exact price comparison but if your 320d price would stretch to a petrol six you are would loose in the wallet but the diesel experience including the torque and all is not as good (noise, vibration, revs smoothness). Of course if you compared a 320i with the d maybe I'd go the d but the petrol would still be a smoother purer driving experience IMO.

I own a 530d ....

3 May 2011

[quote jer]

To true but we are talking about a Mini which are are bought not as mile munchers and more for their fun factor.

I don't know the exact price comparison but if your 320d price would stretch to a petrol six you are would loose in the wallet but the diesel experience including the torque and all is not as good (noise, vibration, revs smoothness). Of course if you compared a 320i with the d maybe I'd go the d but the petrol would still be a smoother purer driving experience IMO.

I own a 530d ...

[/quote]

It all comes down to preference. A petrol may rev more smoothly but I find diesels easier to drive smoothly than petrols (with manual gearboxes). I enjoy driving smoothly so enjoy driving diesels.

Sure diesels may be noisier at tickover, but they are often quieter on the motorway and because you don't need to rev them to find their power they can also be quieter once on the move. Perhaps not such an issue with 6 cylinder cars, but definately with 4 cylinders.

As for this Mini, it may be bought in part for fun, but equally it's unlikely to be just a weekend car and will have to fullfill all the mundane stuff as well as the fun stuff; it will get used for commuting too and the extra fuel economy will start to add up. Plus residual values will probably counter a lot of the price difference, it falls below the magic 120g/km CO2 level for road tax (and company car tax) and is 8 insurance groups lower than the petrol. Go further a field to the continent and diesels are even more popular there as diesel tends to be cheaper.

It's not that I think people should now avoid the petrol, I can see it's appeal, but I don't think the diesel is a poor relation. If I were hiring one for a weekend, I'd take the petrol, but if I was going to live with one, it would be the diesel.

3 May 2011

[quote jer]

I don't know the exact price comparison but if your 320d price would stretch to a petrol six you are would loose in the wallet but the diesel experience including the torque and all is not as good (noise, vibration, revs smoothness). Of course if you compared a 320i with the d maybe I'd go the d but the petrol would still be a smoother purer driving experience IMO.

[/quote]

I'm comparing with the 320i because that was the petrol eqivalent for the same purchase price / year / mileage. Of course I could have paid more for a 325i six, but you can't get a 330i Touring any more, and the 325i engine feels pretty gutless compared to the 320D, which makes it frustrating in normal dual carriageway and motorway driving unless you avoid the top two gears. The opposite of relaxing.

[quote jer]

I own a 530d ....

[/quote]

Yep, they are nice, used to have one myself, but for me now it's far better value to be able to run the 320D and the 944 Turbo for the same money, which is one reason I decided I didn't want another 530D.

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