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Road Test – MINI Coupe SD

If you want a MINI, no matter what your demographic or needs, BMW has it covered with a myriad of different bodystyles including Countryman, Clubman, Convertible, hatchback and now Coupe.
Its controversial looks and two-seater layout led to some commentators claiming that the MINI Coupe is a triumph of style over substance, while others point out that the stiffer bodyshell has further improved its already brilliant handling.
We borrowed one for a week to try and settle the matter once-and-for-all and found that the Coupe is well, youll just have to read on to find out!


The MINI Coupes looks are its most controversial facet, with opinion strictly divided. Some just dont get it, saying that the roofline looks like a baseball cap worn backwards, with all the pejorative associations that come with that.
Others, probably more fashion-aware and style conscious, think that it looks brilliant; funky and sporty, especially in retro race trim. My experience is that the looks grow on you – and it attracts an awful lot of attention, which was overwhelmingly positive.
Whichever camp you fall into its certainly distinctive, which can only be a good thing, right?


The interior demonstrates that my last statement isnt necessarily true. It is, simply, an ergonomic nightmare. I defy anyone, for example, to jump into it and programme the sat-nav for the first time in less than five minutes. Or to find the switches for the electric windows by feel alone while on the move. Or even to switch between the radio and CD while driving along. Familiarity helps, of course, by the MINI lacks the intuitive nature that we have come to expect from modern cars.
It is comfortable though and spacious; Im well over six foot and had plenty of head and legroom. The seats are set low adding to the sporting feel, something that is helped by their supportive and grippy shape. The steering wheel is nicely positioned and the gearlever is exactly where you want it.
There are plenty of stowage cubbies inside too and a useful space behind the seats for a bag or briefcase. A huge boot, that has plenty of space for all the luggage that a couple would ever need to carry, further reinforcing the cars practicality.


The MINI scampers along the road like a hyperactive Jack Russell terrier, full of vim and vigour. Its fun, but can be wearing when youve had a bad day at the office and just want to cruise home on semi-automatic.
When you are in the mood though it is terrific with direct and immediate steering, a firm ride and zero bodyroll; the MINI clich about handling like a go-kart is absolutely spot on. Roadholding is prodigious and extremely secure and understeer is an alien concept. Poor surfaces can make the Coupe feel a bit jiggly but on the whole the chassis is a fine balance of sporting handling and a comfortable ride.
The six-speed manual gearbox (an automatic is also available as a 1,145 option) is a delight to use, the clutch is light, and the brakes powerful and easy to modulate.
The rear spoiler, which rises automatically when you reach 50mph, reduces the already poor rear vision even further. It looks good though, and can be raised manually too if you want to show off at slower speeds.


The 2.0-litre BMW turbo-diesel is bigger and heavier that its petrol equivalent and sounds a bit clattery when it first starts. As a result, it might not be everyones idea of the perfect engine for such an overtly sporting car.
Which would be an obvious conclusion to make, but an incorrect one because, by golly, it doesnt half shift.
A top speed of 134mph and a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds are hugely impressive figures yet it is the mid-range torque that lingers in the memory; 225lb ft isnt to be sniffed at in a relatively small car and it makes changing gear pretty much optional when you want to overtake.
The reason people buy diesel is for the economy of course, and while I didnt manage to get close to the claimed consumption of 65.7mpg I thought that 41.7 was a decent enough figure and one that would rise with more long, constant speed journeys.
The claimed CO2 figure of 114g/km will appease the conscience of the environmentally committed too.

Value for Money

The economy might be a bit poorer than youd imagine, and the purchase price wallet-withering (my test car cost 25,000 with all the optional extras that it was fitted with, although the basic price for the SD is 20,510) but its residual values should prove to be stunning, helping to offset them both and lowering the cost-per-mile.


The MINI Coupe is the ultimate expression of the ranges intricate and sometimes unnecessarily complex design ethos. The interior has a jewel-like quality to it that looks fabulous – but isnt the most user-friendly, at least until youve got used to it. The two-seater layout will alienate some too, especially as its driven by the love-it-or-loathe-it looks.
Having said that it does provide an almost-unique driving experience and has a great chassis. The diesel engine might not be an enthusiastic drivers first choice but it suits the cars nature better than youd imagine and shouldnt be automatically dismissed without trying it.
So, should you buy a MINI Coupe? Well, that depends on what sort of sunglasses you wear: if you are a Ray-Ban Wayfarer person then probably not; try a BMW 1 Series instead, or a Peugeot RCZ. However, if youre hooked on Dolce Gabbana then you are going to love the MINI Coupe and all it stands for and youll be the envy of your friends too!
Check out our full summary of the MINI Coupe along with reviews, photos, videos and stats!
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