MINI Cooper D 2014 review

14 Mar, 2014 11:15am James Disdale

Petrol models have impressed. Now we try diesel MINI Cooper D on British roads

Verdict

5
The brilliant MINI Cooper D is better than ever. Not only is it more efficient and even faster than before, it has class-leading refinement and some big car equipment. Happily, however, this more mature and grown-up approach hasn’t affected the MINI’s entertaining handling or fun-loving character. The only real drawbacks are its cramped rear and the fact there’s still not much luggage space – but then it is called MINI.

The all-new MINI Cooper D has started its homecoming tour. We’ve already sampled the upmarket hatch in far-flung Puerto Rico, but this is the first time the British born and bred newcomer has been driven on UK soil – and Auto Express was first in the queue for the keys.

The racy Cooper and Cooper S gave us an initial taste of the third-generation MINI, so now it’s the turn of the frugal Cooper D. With claimed fuel returns of 80.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 92g/km, it promises to combine the car’s characteristic driving thrills with penny-pinching running costs.

Like the rest of the MINI line-up, the Cooper D gets an all-new engine, with the MkII’s 1.6-litre four-cylinder making way for a 1.5 three-cylinder. Despite having a smaller capacity and one less cylinder than before, power output rises from 110 to 114bhp, while torque remains unchanged at 270Nm.

MINI Cooper D 2014 switch

Press the glowing red starter switch, and the Cooper D clatters into life. It’s noisy from the outside, but excellent sound deadening means the cabin is well isolated. This refinement continues on the move. It’s only at high revs that you’ll notice a trademark three-cylinder thrum from the engine. The characterful soundtrack adds to the MINI’s fun-loving nature, although it’s slightly at odds with its upmarket aspirations.

Still, there won’t be any complaints about the performance. It feels a little flat from idle, but once the revs rise above 1,500rpm the Cooper D pulls strongly, and the benchmark 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in just 9.2 seconds.

Yet it’s the MINI’s mid-range muscle that’s really impressive, serving up decent overtaking pace and carrying the car effortlessly up steep inclines.

MINI has worked hard to give its all-new baby a more grown-up feel, which means there’s very little wind and road noise, while the ride is a little softer than before – although it’s still stiff at low speed and there’s some fidgeting on the motorway. Even so, the MINI’s appetite for entertainment through corners remains intact.

MINI Cooper D 2014 front action

The steering is quick, well weighted and full of feel, and there’s more grip than ever. Yet it’s still possible to subtly adjust the MINI’s line through a corner by using a combination of steering and throttle – few cars at any price are as agile and engaging. Selecting Sport mode adds weight to the steering and sharpens the throttle response, but the precise six-speed gearbox and progressive brakes remain unchanged.

Elsewhere, you’ll find an evolutionary approach, meaning that only dedicated fans are likely to spot the longer and wider body, plus the bigger and bolder lights front and rear.

MINI Cooper D 2014 interior

Inside, you’ll find a revised dash layout that’s packed with retro touches and dominated by the large circular sat-nav screen. Fit and finish is first
rate as usual, and most of the materials have a high-quality look and feel.

Despite its larger exterior dimensions, the MINI remains cramped inside. The driver and front passenger get plenty of space, but the rear bench is really only for children. And while boot capacity has grown, it’s still a mere 211 litres.

At £16,450, the Cooper D isn’t cheap, but you do get Bluetooth, a DAB radio and air-conditioning. And if you’re feeling flush, there’s a long list of extras and personalisation options to choose from.

Disqus - noscript

"Fit and finish is first rate as usual" .... Hope that comment is referring to the new model rather than the previous generation which had a woeful interior - better quality plastics on a 1990s Kia (well, not quite, but they weren't very good at all).

Think I'd still go petrol with a Mini - the new 2.0 S engine sounds great.

My mother has owned 2 BMW minis and both had superb fit and finish. One is now 10 years old and been passed to my cousin as his first car and is still faultless.

I agree the previous mini was rock solid htg must be talking about the mk1 ha ha. The first bmw mini had a few weaknesses but for the money it was a great image! The mk2 bmw was much better screwed together definatelly not plasticy not a 1990s kia!

Nope talking about the BMW Mini - my wife has had 3 in a row. Example being the shockingly bad plasticy lid that opens up on the passenger side to reveal another glovebox. The scratchy hard plastics down the centre console, the exposed screw heads in the cup holders, etc, etc.

But... it's still a great car to drive and can forgive these failings - just find it laughable when motoring press state something that is simply not the case.

Aesthetically speaking I don't think that the last generation mini's interior is very good but the quality of the materials is top notch for this class of car and price range. Either your expectations are unrealistic or you haven't looked inside other small cars. The Fiesta uses much cheaper looking materials and the Jazz uses the nastiest scratchy plastic that I can think of.

My expectations of a "premium" priced super-mini are an interior to match its premium status in the sector... The Mini had that sector all to itself for a decade and could churn out cars with an acceptable interior rather than an exceptional one... right up until Audi launched their A1 and that's what's forced Mini to up it's game I think.

On my Fiat 500, apart from the steering wheel, every single piece of the dashboard and centre console is hard brittle plastic. I have no doubt that the Mini's dash has better materials and is more expensive to produce, but the 500's dash looks much better!

Having owned a 2005 Mini, a 2010 Fiat 500, and a 2011 A1, I'd say this car has seriously upped its game since the last generation and is the best one yet pushing the competition aside. The ride comfort, cabin space , and road handling is so much better in every way imaginable, and the interior quality has improved drastically, though a little gimmicky. We test drove the cooper 1.5 3 cyl petrol and it was a pocket rocket. I m an Audi man myself but the wife and I were so impressed that we are considering one as we speak to replace our second car.

Key specs

  • Price: £16,450
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 3cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 114bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 127mph
  • Economy/CO2: 80.7mpg/92g/km
  • On sale: Now
AEX 1,339
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