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MINI Cooper SD Coupe

Click to view picture gallery“250,000 MINIs were sold across
  the world in 2010 — that’s a big
  number for a little car, and likely
  to increase when the new two-seater
  MINI Coupe hits the road

THE COUPE IS THE MOST DYNAMICALLY FOCUSED MINI to leave the factory to date. Immediately identifiable by its more steeply sloping windscreen and
'booted' profile, the Coupe sits lower on the road than other Minis and is also the first BMW Group model to feature an active rear wing (lifting over 50mph and dropping below 37mph) for enhanced stability.

Engine outputs run from 122bhp in Cooper spec to 211bhp in the range-topping Cooper Works. Filling in the gaps are the recently launched 143bhp high-performance SD diesel unit as well as the 184bhp Cooper S.

While six-speed manual gearboxes are standard, the Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper SD can all be ordered with a six-speed sequential transmission including paddle-shifts. Features such as Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start/Stop, Shift Point Display, Electric Power Steering and the 'need only'-based operation of ancillaries help to make efficient use of fuel and keep emissions low.

Greener drivers will be
as interested in the
Coupe’s fuel economy
as much as
the power outputs —
the official combined
cycle figure for the
Cooper SD is 65.7mpg...”
Greener drivers will be as interested in the Coupe's fuel economy as much as the power outputs official combined cycle figures can be as low as the John Cooper Works version's 39.8mpg or stretch to a frugal 65.7mpg in the Cooper SD; CO2 emissions range between the Cooper SD's 114g/km and the 165g/km of the John Cooper Works.

Offering the best fuel economy, the lowest emissions and the highest torque output of any Coupe model, the Cooper SD variant, as tested here, is likely to prove very popular. And it's no sluggard it will still sprint to 62mph in under eight seconds and run on to a maximum speed of 134mph.

Comfortable behind the wheel in the Coupe's roomy cabin, I was expecting a spine-snapping ride on the demanding 230-mile test route through the Austrian, Italian and German Alps. But the Cooper SD (and also the JCW model) I drove proved surprisingly comfortable yet still capable of delivering memorable driving experiences.

Headroom is particularly good, thanks to the belled roof lining, and the seats easily coped with six-footers yet held them securely on the mountain hairpins.

Even with weight in the boot (four cases worth; and all easily swallowed), the Coupe served up the pinpoint handling precision you'd expect to find in a purpose-designed sports car.

Visibility is a little compromised by the sweeping roofline when pulling out of road junctions but you can still place the Coupe precisely on the road when covering ground quickly. Noise levels are all low; engaging Sport mode audibly alters the engine note as well as making it even more responsive.

Engine responses are sharp and strong with bags of pulling power. Clutch-pedal travel is long, but on the plus side the gear-change action is short, the steering kart-like and the brakes immensely powerful and well balanced.

Even with weight in the boot, the Coupe served up the pinpoint handling precision you’d expect to find in a purpose- designed sports car...”
The new Coupe and new Roadster (to follow in 2012) share a very similar body design. But whereas the Roadster's needs to accommodate a folding roof, the Coupe uses the room to provide a large stowage space behind the front seats. In fact, MINI has created a bespoke range of luggage for the Coupe to make full use of the 280 litres available.

The new Coupe range comes equipped with DAB digital radio, air conditioning, park distance control, sport leather steering wheel and alloys with prices starting at 16,640 for the Cooper; Cooper S models cost 19,775, the Cooper SD 20,510 and the John Cooper Works version is 23,795.

Another bonus is the residuals. The MINI Coupe boasts class-leading residual values: the Cooper SD model is predicted to retain 47% of its original value over three years or 60,000 miles; 45% for the John Cooper Works model.

There's much to like about the Coupe, such as handling, room, pulling power, low emissions and running costs and an eight-year TLC aftercare package costing 524. But there's also a few niggles namely the long-travel clutch, scattered secondary controls and tricky visibility in some situations.

Still, there's no doubt that the MINI Coupe is the most satisfyingly sporty model in the range. Another successful chapter in the never-ending MINI story. Robin Roberts

MINI Cooper SD Coupe | 20,510
Maximum speed: 134mph | 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds | Overall MPG: 65.7mpg
Power: 143bhp | Torque: 225lb ft | CO2 114g/km