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Mini Cooper SD: Test Drive Review

Date: 20 May 2011   |   Author:

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £18,695
Key rival: Seat Ibiza SC

The Cooper SD may sound like a camera memory card but it's actually the new most-expensive mainstream hatchback in the Mini line-up, combining the sporty looks and set-up of the Cooper S with diesel economy and sub-120g/km tax efficiency.

Even the twin, centrally mounted exhaust pipes and long bonnet slit that distinguish the Cooper S from the rest of the Mini line-up are retained for this 114g/km 143hp model that uses the 2.0-litre engine from the BMW 118d.

However, despite giving away more than 40hp and over a second in 0-62mph time, the SD is actually £740 more expensive than the S petrol. The cash, though, can be more than reclaimed over three years in insurance terms alone, without even looking at the economy or tax differences, as the Cooper S sits in insurance group 30 against the SD's 22, a saving of £885 according to KwikCarcost. Overall, the diesel is 4.6p per mile cheaper to runs, thanks to fuel economy 17mpg better off and CO2 that's 22g/km lower.

To drive, the Cooper SD is a hoot. Initial worries that 143hp might be too much of a compromise in favour of economy at the expense of performance, and not feel sufficient for something badged as an S, are instantly banished. Instead, thoughts turn to how something so quick and fun to drive can be offering the low tax bill that comes with a 114g/km model - a higher-rate tax payer will shell out £81 per month for the SD. Ride quality is also impressive. Although Minis, and the Cooper S in particular, have always been bouncy, the SD has found a happy medium between absorbing bumps and still having enough chassis control to retain the Mini's fun drive.

There are few rivals, as not many diesel superminis can get close to the SD's 143hp output. Audi's A1 and the Alfa Romeo Mito can't do better than 120hp, so it's left to the Vauxhall Corsa SRi and Seat Ibiza SC FR to offer any sort of comparison. The Mini beats them for cost per mile thanks to a RV more than 10 percentage points higher than either, continuing Mini's phenomenal RV record, with KwikCarcost predicting 40.9% retained after three years and 60,000 miles.

This new Mini won't suit a lot of corporate applications, but user choosers looking for performance and frugality, and with no need for practicality due to the Mini's small proportions and borderline joke boot, will find one of the most appealing head and heart hatchbacks on sale.

Mini Cooper S D
P11D price£18,695
Model price range£13,450-£18,695
Fuel consumption65.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 114g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40%
per month
Service intervalvariable miles
Insurance (1-50)group 22
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space min/max160/680 litres
Engine size/power1995cc/143hp
Top speed/0-62mph134mph/8.1secs
On sale April 2011
VerdictBusiness user chooser
hot hatch perfection if
practicality isn’t
an issue


Business user chooser hot hatch perfection if practicality isn’t an issue