For fans who prize economy over performance, there is also the prospect of the 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit currently found in all Cooper SD variants. All come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, and all save the JCW include a six-speed automatic on the options list.
The standard Cooper kicks off the range. It features the 122bhp, naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four cylinder engine which is perfectly adequate for most buyers. It's acceleration is adequate too - Mini claims a 0-62mph time of nine seconds dead. Despite the reasonable performance, it is likely to remain a springboard to catapult buyers up the range.
Another £3000-or-so puts the Cooper S within reach, and it represents money well spent for the enthusiast - and let's face it, this is a car that is unashamedly pitched at the hardcore Mini fan. There's much to praise the engine for. The turbocharged four-pot develops 177lb ft between 1600 and 5000rpm, peaking at 192lb ft from 1700 and 4500rpm, endowing the Cooper S with tremendous flexibility. Peak power is rated at 181bhp at 5000rpm, aiding a 0-62mph time of 6.9sec and a 143mph maximum.
The JCW is the performance pinnacle of the range and boosts power to 211bhp and torque to 192lb ft at 1850 to 5600rpm. Twin-scroll turbocharging is to thank for the lack of turbo lag in the powerplant, as well as its genuine forcefulness between 3000rpm and 5000rpm.
Our 7.2sec two-way average to 60mph was adrift of Mini’s 6.4sec claim – and that claim is to 62mph, remember. A slight shortage of traction at the front axle also contributed to that shortfall. At higher speeds, where traction matters less, the JCW earned the very visible stripes that it wears as a delete option – 30mph to 70mph through the gears took just 6.0sec, which is fast enough to mix it with Golf GTIs and their ilk.
If you’re seeking a fast getaway in your Mini Coupé JCW, don’t be lured by that enticing black Sport button just ahead of the gearlever. Running in normal mode, the car responds quickly and in pleasingly direct proportion to the position of your right foot. However, in an attempt to conjure an impression of even greater responsiveness, Sport mode ruins all of that. Press the button and that engine delivers significantly more of its maximum power and torque at narrower throttle openings. Not that it benefits outright acceleration in any way.
The Cooper SD is the only model to pack an engine larger than 1.6-litres. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel - which is lifted from the 1 Series - sounds excessive, but competitive CO2 and fuel consumption figures allied to a 7.9sec 0-62mph makes a great deal of sense. But don't be fooled into thinking the SD is a frugal alternative to the Cooper S and JCW. While it is quick, it lacks the urgency and fizz of the petrol units, but is a worthy diversion nonetheless.