New BMW three-cylinder diesel engine is very impressive in latest Mini, thanks to excellent economy, superb torque and low CO2. It's competitively priced, too

What is it?

The three-cylinder, turbodiesel version of the all-new F56 Mini hatchback. All-new, in this case, really does mean all-new. The F56 is based on a BMW-engineered platform and is powered by new BMW-engineered three- and four-cylinder turbocharged engines.

Mini is claiming that this model is significantly more refined, safer and better made than the outgoing R56 Mini, which still had its roots in the original 2001 R50 Mini.

The F56 is also bigger in every dimension. At 3821mm long it is 98mm longer (with 28mm of that inserted into the wheelbase) and 1414mm tall, some 4mm taller. The overall width of the car is up by 44mm, with the front track 42mm wider and the rear track 34mm wider. Boot space is up by 30 per cent to 211 litres and the rear seatbacks are now split 60/40, rather than 50/50. 

Despite its newness, the styling of the new model has not strayed far from its two predecessors. Out on the road, it’s most identifiable by its bigger headlamps (and their distinctive ring-shaped LED running lights) and by the somewhat oversized rear lamp clusters. Otherwise, in the metal, the F56 is a more handsome, more professionally executed piece of work than the two previous Minis.

That execution extends into the interior which, while it benefits from a significant hike in build quality and finish, sticks with the rather cartoonish and oversized design themes of the R56. Beautifully made, the facia is dominated by the giant circular centre screen, while the speedo and (tiny) rev counter are now mounted on the steering column. The toggle switches have survived the redesign and Minis equipped with the Media Pack XL get a massively improved iDrive-style controller between the front seats.

This Cooper D gets the new 1499cc three-cylinder turbodiesel engine (the entry-level One D is just 1198cc) which delivers 114bhp and a maximum 199lb ft between 1250 and 4000rpm. A six-speed (very long-geared) manual box is standard. It’s officially rated at just 92g/km of CO2, the Cooper D should offer a remarkable 80.7mpg combined mpg. 

What's it like?

Refined, rapid and beautifully constructed. These right-hand drive test cars had just 1200 miles under their collective crankshafts, so the engines were still very tight. 

Even so, in motorway conditions the cabin is whisper quiet at an indicated 80mph, to the extent it was hard to believe at first. At speed, the Mini has remarkable stability and runs like a much larger car. It rides well on good surfaces, too, even though the test car had the optional 16in wheels.

Like all diesel engines, the new three-pot can be vocal at lower speeds and wide throttle openings, but at a steady speed it is very refined indeed. It also has the torque and response to be a remarkably effective overtaking machine. 

On a flowing B-road, the new Mini is still a very enjoyable car to thread along, even though it has achieved an almost executive-like calm on motorways. It's less frenetic than the previous models, but its sophisticated underpinnings still shine through, when steering it along. 

Our test car was fitted with switchable driving dynamics, which allows the driver to select three settings (Green, Mid and Sport). In Sport mode, the steering (assisted, I suspect by individual wheel braking) seemed over-eager, pushing the car’s nose too far towards the apex.

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Perhaps the only other downside is that the Cooper D’s ride can get very unsettled on undulating surfaces, although this is partly a consequence of the car’s short wheelbase. The upcoming five-door hatch has a slightly longer wheelbase, so may offer a more settled high-speed gait. There's also a hint of tyre roar on shattered road surfaces, but this will become clearer on UK roads.

The cockpit is remarkably spacious and the driving position excellent, although it is a pity that the overlarge facia eats up so much space and that the upward steering wheel adjustment is limited.  

Should I buy one?

Sure, because if you marched into a Mini dealer and took away the base model Cooper D for its £16,450 price tag you would be getting something of a bargain.

Subject to the usual load and passenger-carrying restrictions, this is a car that you could quite conceivably use for long journeys, such is its motorway calm and muscular mid-range pull. But you still have a car capable of delivering real pleasure across country.

It’s also very nicely made and potentially very frugal. The new Mini feels like what it is: a small car with a high engineering content that manages to deliver on both back roads and long hauls.

Mini Cooper D

Price £16,450; 0-62mph 9.2sec; Top speed 127mph; Economy 80.7mpg; CO2 92g/km; Kerb weight 1135kg (excl driver); Engine 3 cyls in line, 1496cc, turbocharged; Power 114bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 199lb ft at 1750-2250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Add a comment…
CorrinJTaylor 8 October 2019

The car

The car is firmer than a regular hatch over imperfections, but fine body control keeps it in check before things get uncomfortable. my review here

RickeyDominguez 24 September 2019

Mini Cooper D

The Mini has always provided something unexpected. The original, launched 50 years ago, was a minimalist's version of transportation. Through the years it has remained parked on the edges of automotive normalcy, an outlier of rebellion and quirkiness. i can drive it and play video games at here

cekk2123 13 June 2019

This is a nice car

This is a nice car. It's convenient when moving around the city fireboy and watergirl