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

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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

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Comments
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AddyT 10 July 2015

My other half one has one and

My other half one has one and it's a great all rounder. I will caveat that with saying it's not as comfortable as my Golf MK7 on a long drive but it is an awful lot of fun on the right road. As much as I like VW's engines, this 318d is perfectly placed in this car and it's extremely "darty" on turn in. The torque is a constant surge of acceleration and thanks to having good responsive handling, it's a pleasure to drive very quickly down a winding road. Don't get me wrong - it's not the most comfy car but as a fast small car that has a lot of pulling power, IMO it can't be beaten.
julianphillips 4 May 2011

Re: Mini Cooper SD

Submariner Redux wrote:
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.
I prefer the 320i to the 320d, its so smooth and easy to drive.

Submariner Redux 3 May 2011

Re: Mini Cooper SD

jer wrote:

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'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.

jer wrote:

I own a 530d ....

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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