In-depth reviews

MINI Coupe (2011-2015) review

Big on thrills and low on compromises, the MINI Coupe said to be marque's most driver-focused car ever

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Great drive, striking looks, bigger boot than hatch
  • Two seats, costly options, MINI recall history

There's nothing small about the MINI family. This Coupe is the fifth model to join the line-up, and with its firm suspension set up and light weight, it's described as the most driver focused version of the car yet. The simple two-seater layout is key to its appeal, as it’s designed to wrap around the driver to deliver an even more rewarding drive than the standard hatch. Aimed at our reigning class champion, the Peugeot RCZ, both petrol and diesel engined cars are offered. The diesel is great - it delivers strong economy and searing pace, along with MINI’s trademark handling prowess. In standard Cooper trim, the MINI gets a slightly softer suspension setup but our choice remains the Cooper S, which is well balanced and incredibly rewarding. The flagship John Cooper Works model is reserved for the most hardcore enthusiasts.

Engines, performance and drive

The MINI Coupe is by far the most driver-focused car in its class. It's a strict two-seater, and even the fuel-efficient Cooper SD offers 141bhp and a staggering 305Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre diesel engine. These figures mean the car is more than capable of leaving its rivals trailing, while top-spec John Cooper Works cars are even faster. Steering is ultra direct, while the low centre of gravity and stiff suspension mean the MINI is completely at home on track – where you'll find there's no shortage of mid corner grip. But there’s a price to be paid for the MINI’s sporting potential as the steering wheel pulls and fidgets as the front wheels hunt out cambers in the tarmac - the punishing ride and short wheelbase mean it can feel quite unstable over potholed surfaces. If the looks aren't for the feint hearted, then the handling is for the most committed enthusiast. It's great fun in short bursts though.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

With claimed fuel economy of 65.7mpg, the 2.0-litre diesel engined MINI Cooper SD is extremely efficient and quick, too. Helping keep costs down further is MINI's celebrated TLC servicing pack, which offers free scheduled maintenance for 5 years or 50,000 miles. The firm has recently launched a TLC XL pack, which for a further £275 extends that deal to 8 years, or 80,000 miles. The benefit of the package is that it means almost all MINI's have a full, main dealer service history, which protects the resale value of the car. Watch out when it comes to specifying your car. It's possible to go absolutely mad with the options list, pushing up the base price by thousands of pounds - none of which you will get back when you sell the car on.

Interior, design and technology

There's no doubt about it, the MINI Coupe is aimed at people who want to get noticed. As well as offering lots of bright colours to choose between, buyers can opt for bold racing stripes, and a two-tone finish to highlight the floating roof design. Flagship Cooper S and SD models get a prominent air scoop and make rivals like the Volvo C30 look understated. Inside, it's no surprise to find that the cabin feels a little cramped but the headlining features two scalloped panels to help accommodate tall drivers. Elsewhere, the cabin is standard MINI fare with an identical dash to that found in the hatch and convertible. It gets the usual oversized speedo, circular air vents and retro, metal toggle switches Quality is a plus point, too, with the car's trim and switchgear feeling reassuringly robust.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The MINI Coupe has only got two seats, which means it's not much use for a family of four. The decision to ditch the rear bench has however had a very positive effect on boot space, which at 280 litres is bigger than the one offered by the standard MINI hatch. What's more, there are plenty of cabin cubbies to store CDs and drinks, and the large hatch makes loading bulky items easy.

Reliability and Safety

It's fair to say the MINI's reputation for reliability is chequered. The whole MINI family has been the subject of a number of safety related recalls - one of which was for the potential for fire. The hatch managed a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, so safety for the Coupe is likely to be top-notch. All cars offer stability control as well as front, side and curtain airbags as standard.

More on Coupe

MINI Cooper D London 2012 Edition
MINI Cooper D London 2012 Edition front
MINI Coupe Coupe
4 Jun 2012

MINI Cooper D London 2012 Edition

We drive the latest special edition from MINI, which marks the Olympic Games with a patriotic special
MINI Coupe JCW (2011-2015) review
MINI Coupe JCW
5 May 2012

MINI Coupe JCW (2011-2015) review

The fastest production MINI ever, the MINI JCW Coupe is all about driving pleasure with plenty of style
MINI Cooper SD vs rivals
MINI Cooper SD vs rivals
MINI Coupe Coupe
9 May 2011

MINI Cooper SD vs rivals

With the new Cooper SD, MINI hopes to blend its brand of performance and fun with low running costs. We see if it can beat SEAT and Nissan rivals...
MINI Cooper D facelift
MINI Cooper D facelift
MINI Coupe Coupe
2 Aug 2010

MINI Cooper D facelift

Is the facelifted MINI Cooper D good enough to take on the Audi A1? We find out.
MINI First vs Rivals
MINI Coupe Coupe
2 Oct 2009

MINI First vs Rivals

MINI has put the cat among the pigeons in the city car class with its cut-price First model. We see if it beats Toyota and Fiat rivals...
Mini First
MINI Coupe Coupe
31 Jul 2009

Mini First

New entry-level model gets a bargain price tag – but does it make retro baby even more tempting?
Mini JCW: 2,656 miles
MINI Coupe Coupe
24 Jul 2009

Mini JCW: 2,656 miles

Second report: Our flagship hatch meets its racing cousin – so how does it compare?
MINI JCW
MINI JCW
MINI Coupe Coupe
5 Jun 2009

MINI JCW

It delivers fun by the bucketload – but how does British hot hatch scrub up as a daily driver?
MINI United live!
MINI United
MINI Coupe Coupe
11 May 2009

MINI United live!

It's the biggest party of the year and Auto Express is there to bring you all the news, views and excitement as it happens.
MINI E-Drive
MINI E-Drive
MINI Coupe Coupe
24 Apr 2009

MINI E-Drive

We try brit firm synergy’s take on affordable electric version of class-leading hatch
MINI E verdict
MINI E
MINI Coupe Coupe
19 Nov 2008

MINI E verdict

Prepare for a shock! MINI has launched its first-ever electric car, and Auto Express has driven it.
VW Scirocco vs MINI JCW
MINI Coupe Coupe
16 Oct 2008

VW Scirocco vs MINI JCW

Two of the most famous performance cars of all-time are back – and doing battle here in the ultimate hot head-to-head. Who dares wins...
MINI John Cooper Works
Cooper fr
MINI Coupe Coupe
15 Jul 2008

MINI John Cooper Works

Tuned version of the British-built supermini proves worth the wait as it serves up a thrilling drive.
MINI Cooper
MINI Cooper
MINI Coupe Coupe
28 Nov 2007

MINI Cooper

This MINI has got the 'Works'. We try the fastest Cooper money can buy.
MINI
MINI One
MINI Coupe Coupe
31 Jul 2007

MINI

The entry-level MINI One is a stylish, great-handling little hatchback
MINI
Mini Cooper D
MINI Coupe Coupe
16 Apr 2007

MINI

The MINI's new diesel engine is a big improvement over its predecessor and it's more refined and responsive, too
MINI Cooper 2006 review
MINI Coupe Coupe
1 Nov 2006

MINI Cooper 2006 review

First UK drive of BMW's baby best seller
Hartge MINI Cooper S
MINI Coupe Coupe
17 Dec 2002

Hartge MINI Cooper S

There was a whole industry built around tuning the classic Mini, but so far the go-faster brigade has kept away from the new model. However, all that …