Mini Cooper SD diesel review, price and specs

We try the new Mini Cooper SD range, a brisk BMW diesel engine used in every mini, from hatchback to coupe, roadster to Paceman

Evo rating
  • Brisk and frugal
  • But no diesel Cooper S

What is it? The Mini Cooper SD, the high performance diesel variant of the ever-popular small car. It’s not only the Mini’s most powerful diesel option yet, but the biggest engine in its 54-year history. Prices range from £18,870 for the hatchback to £24,290 for a four-wheel-drive Paceman ALL4.  Technical highlights? The engine is the 2-litre single-turbo unit shared with the BMW 118d, and it offers up 141bhp and 225lb ft. This is combined with CO2 emissions of 114g/km (£30 annual car tax, 13% BIK rate) and a claimed 65.7mpg in the hatchback, which completes 0-60 in eight seconds on its way to a 134mph top speed. Those frugal former figures are thanks in part to Minimalism, Mini’s version of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics, which stars brake energy generation, auto start/stop and ‘demand-based ancillaries’, such as the alternator.

A DAB digital radio is standard fit, while if you pick the optional satnav and the visual effects of the Mini’s infamously large, ‘dinner plate’ speedo are minimised. A close relation of BMW’s iDrive system, it’s a polished set up too.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

As ever, the Mini is a nigh on infinitely customisable car, and the temptation to feverishly tick options boxes for different colours, alloy wheels, bonnet stripes, roof patterns and more (and that’s without speaking about the interior) proves too hard to resist for many buyers. The usual plethora of options (the average Mini customer’s spend is over £4000, apparently) will ensure few cars leave the forecourt at those list prices above. Our test Countryman topped £30K, for instance… What’s it like to drive? Thie Mini Cooper SD has an extra 26lb ft compared to the Cooper D, at an identical 1750rpm, while maximum torque stretches an extra 450rpm to 2700rpm. That results in a 0-62mph time that’s over half a second quicker, yet in truth the car doesn’t feel substantially brisker. Though our first impression of some box-fresh cars proved a little less thrilling than drives in some properly run in SDs – a few thousand miles in, this is a punchier, more exciting car, if still not quite enthralling enough to fully warrant that emotive Cooper S badging. A comparison of the range is interesting - the hatchback shows the biggest improvement in mid-range thump over a regular Cooper D, the Clubman feels the most resolved and balanced on rough and twisty roads, the Countryman feels least eager to swing through the SD’s powerband and also requires stirring of its gears through stunted motorway traffic.

Since 2011, Mini has also offered the Cooper SD treatment on its Coupe and Roadster models. The two-seat sports cars are largely identical to drive to their siblings but are designed to rival the likes of the Audi TT, Mazda MX-5 and Toyota GT86. With a diesel variant, they trump many of their rivals while combining a punchy driving experience with some real-world-friendly running costs. And if you don’t require rear seats, the Coupe’s cavernous boot probably makes it a more practical proposition than the hatchback. All cars boast the usual Mini plus points, though: tactile controls, a slick gearchange and electric power steering that while unnatural in its firmness when you press the infamous Sport button, is better weighted than most rivals.  How does it compare? Rivals for the hatchback include the 141bhp/236lb ft SEAT Ibiza FR TDI (£17,130) and 128bhp/221lb ft Vauxhall Corsa SRi CDTi (£17,390). Both handle well, have punchy powerplants and possess more practicality than the Mini. For many, though, their looks and image won’t be on par.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Such is the breadth of the Mini range nowadays, brisk diesel versions of the Audi A1, Citroen DS3, Range Rover Evoque, Peugeot RCZ, Audi TT (as both a coupe and Roadster) and BMW X1 are all viable rivals – among many others. The ever-expanding Mini portfolio may rub up traditionalists in the wrong way, but as a fun and characterful alternative to some established mainstream rivals, you can’t knock the bulk of the company’s range.

If you want reasonable economy but can’t bear the thought of filling up with diesel (and the still quite agricultural tones the SD emits at low speed) then the Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost is a fine choice. Its 123bhp 1-litre three-cylinder turbo engine boasts decent performance and an eagerness for a good thrashing, while the Fiesta stands beside the Mini when it comes to class-leading dynamics. Anything else I need to know? The Mini hatchback doesn’t have long for this world, the new mk3 Mini already teased in concept form with sales expected to start in early 2014. Then starts the long process of replacing those seven variants – no doubt with the possibility of that number rising further still. With its inherent appeal to company car users and those on a budget, expect the SD diesel to be a mainstay when this happens…

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4cyl, 1995cc, turbodiesel
Max power141bhp @ 4000rpm
Max torque225lb ft @ 1750-2700rpm
0-608.1sec (claimed 0-62)
Top speed134mph
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/mini/202813/mini-jcw-gp-2020-review-mini-sharpens-up-ready-to-rival-gr-yaris
MINI

Mini JCW GP 2020 review - Mini sharpens up ready to rival GR Yaris

27 Jun 2020
Visit/mini/202697/1974-mini-cooper-gets-500whp-v6-yours-for-ps120000
MINI

1974 Mini Cooper gets 500whp V6: yours for £120,000

6 Jun 2020
Visit/mini/cooper-s
MINI

Mini Cooper S review

11 Feb 2020
Visit/classic-cars/201733/mini-remastered-launches-hot-oselli-edition
Classic cars

Mini Remastered launches hot Oselli Edition

10 Sep 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/porsche/202872/porsche-911-carrera-s-vs-rivals-r8-vantage-570gt-and-evora-face-off
Porsche

Porsche 911 Carrera S vs rivals: R8, Vantage, 570GT and Evora face off

The question is simple. Does the 992-generation 911 Carrera S still have the edge on its core rivals?
11 Jul 2020
Visit/mercedes/amg-gt/201615/technical-specifications-of-720bhp-mercedes-amg-gt-black-series-revealed
Mercedes AMG GT

Technical specifications of 720bhp Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series revealed

The Black Series has returned, with its latest and arguably greatest offering yet – the AMG GT Black Series
14 Jul 2020
Visit/ford/202877/2021-ford-bronco-revealed-an-american-icon-reborn
Ford

2021 Ford Bronco revealed – an American icon reborn

The new Ford Bronco off-roader has been revealed stateside; a counterpoint to the Defender and Wrangler
14 Jul 2020
Visit/porsche/porsche-911-gt2-rs/202882/porsche-911-gt2-rs-receives-3d-printed-pistons-for-30bhp-increase
Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Porsche 911 GT2 RS receives 3D-printed pistons for 30bhp increase

The hardcore Porsche 911 GT2 RS has recieved high-tech 3D-printed pistons for increased performance
14 Jul 2020