MINI Coupe vs rivals

MINI Coupe vs rivals
Credits: Otis Clay
14 Dec, 2011 11:00am

New diesel MINI Coupe mixes striking looks with low costs. Can it see off a trio of stylish rivals?

MINI is on a roll. Hot on the heels of the opinion-splitting (but strong-selling) Countryman crossover comes a car that has driving fans in its sights. The MINI Coupe mixes all the retro charm we’ve come to expect from MINI with an extra dose of driver appeal and a bold look.

The petrol flagship has already impressed, but now we’ve got the keys to the Cooper SD version. It comes with the promise of hot hatch performance and ultra-efficient diesel economy, but the good news for style-conscious coupe fans is it isn’t the only choice...

Snapping at the MINI’s heels
is the Peugeot RCZ. It was named Best Coupe at our New Car Awards 2011, and while it’s not cheap, the RCZ is a class act and the 2.0 HDi model has the most power here.

Next up is Volvo’s C30. The stylish three-door hatchback 
has a characterful five-cylinder diesel engine and practical four-
seat cabin – but will it have the dynamic appeal and efficiency 
to rival the best cars in the class?

Diesel engines aren’t the 
only solution if you want 
strong fuel economy – our 
final contender has a hi-tech 
trick up its sleeve. The Honda CR-Z is a unique proposition 
in the coupe class thanks 
to its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

prices and eye-catching 
looks are sure to help the 
smart three-door keep its 
three diesel rivals honest.



Each of these cars offers a unique combination of talents, but it didn’t take us long to settle on our winner. The Peugeot RCZ has ruled the coupé roost since it arrived in 2010 and the new MINI Coupe simply doesn’t do enough to change that.

The Cooper SD has a lot going for it, but its in-your-face looks and frenetic chassis are acquired tastes. In the end, the controversial styling and harsh ride cost it dearly, as we think the Peugeot is a more appealing proposition in the long term.

The RCZ gets attention without resorting to garish stripes, and its more grown-up handling provides just as much excitement as the MINI, yet with fewer compromises for comfort and refinement on longer trips. Both cars finish comfortably ahead of the Volvo and Honda – although choosing between these two isn’t easy.

We think the C30 edges out its hybrid rival because, for all its talents, the CR-Z is simply too slow. Extra performance and sharper handling would transform the Honda, but for now, the faster and more practical Volvo finishes in a hard-fought third place.

1. Peugeot RCZ Sport

Another victory for the RCZ. As style statements go, the Peugeot is a real winner, while the grippy chassis and punchy HDi diesel engine give it great substance.

2. MINI Cooper SD Coupe

The MINI is exciting to drive, but can’t match the mature RCZ on the road. Still, the Coupe impresses elsewhere with low running costs and class-leading fuel economy.

3. Volvo C30 R-Design

If you want space and style, the Volvo is the only solution here. Even if you don’t need the extra seats, its gruff soundtrack and strong pace are sure to appeal.

4. Honda CR-Z GT

We love its compact shape and slick gearshift, but the CR-Z trails on power and economy. If only the distinctive coupe was offered with Honda’s brilliant i-DTEC diesel.


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The Peugeot will lose money hand over fist, so buy today and repent at leisure! Volvo are also pretty bad at holding value! They are also STILL seen as the "old mans" alternative! The Honda is the least green out of all of them when you take whole life carbon.

The MINI? It will sell in large numbers, it will hold its value and will be a real hoot to drive! Expensive to buy? Maybe, but customers will lose less than buying any of the others.

Remember, just because these cars are similar at purchase, three years down the line they will be very different!

We agree - if the Countryman is anything to go by, the MINI Coupe will sell by the bucket load. As we've said, it's exciting to drive, has class-leading economy and it'll be worth more than the others in this test after three years. It's also eligible for the fixed-price tlc pack too - @249 will cover all scheduled maintenance for the first five years or 50,000. Though it doesn't beat the RCZ overall, there's still lots to praise.

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I agree that large Peugeot's do devalue quicker than some of the competition. However you cannot say that for small Peugeot's. 206/207/106/107 all had excellent residuals during their sales lives. Try and get a big discount on a new RCZ, look how many used ones are around and how much they are. To announce that it will lose money hand over fist is quite an unfounded statement. This is the sort of quote that is made by people who only buy German cars and believe they hold their price really well. I lost over £20k on my last Merc CLS in 2yrs. I could have bought an RCZ with the loss alone. Try to stay up to date!!!

As a mini driver, all mini's do come with shortcomings which some of us who are "drivers" put up with, does grown up handling not start to mean a bit boring?

Also the big question is brand new RCZ or second hand Audi TT?? I know what I would choose! Its like buying a Rolex watch from a top jeweller or getting a cheap imitation on holiday which is trying hard to be. The RCZ is trying hard which one is still going to appeal and be worth something 5 years down the line?

I don't think the mini will sell in bucket loads its just ugly , you can't just keep sticking bits on and chopping things off and expect a car to retain what made it different in the first place . Whats next the mini jump jet ? I don't think the RCZ will have low residuals and at the moment it seems to be holding value , it looks great and drives well . That said I like the Honda you can pick them up quite cheaply and it just looks different to everything else , its not fast or that economical but at least its honest . Its not a TT pretender or the pig ugly sister of a model , the Volvo's not really got coupe looks its more hatchback but its a little different and I also think as a hatchback its a good car although its got a small boot opening , its a coupe pretender though .
In short I like the worst reviewed car and the second from worst reviewed car , probably says more about me than the cars . I might get myself to vision express as I just don't see anything that makes the mini anything other than UGLY.