Convincing case for

MINI Coupe

MINI Coupe Cooper SD, front
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, front, action
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, side
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, side, action
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, rear
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, upright
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, boot

IF truth be told, I wasn't totally convinced. I'd seen the pictures yet couldn't decide if MINI had got it totally wrong with the two-seater Coupé.

But I shouldn't have been so apprehensive, for the line-up of gleaming metal in the car park at the car's launch said it all ... this sexy wee gem really was the works.

With its chunky, low stance, short overhangs, sloping roof and highly-raked windscreen, this addition to the MINI range certainly looked a cracker in the flesh, guaranteed to be on the "must-have" list of many a dedicated follower of fashion.

The four-model range, comprising Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD diesel and the flagship John Cooper Works first started to hit our streets in autumn 2011.

And while it is the John Cooper Works version that is proving to be the one that sends flutters to the hearts of serious petrolheads, for me the diesel offers a great compromise between raw power and economy. 

Kitted out with BMW's award-winning two-litre common-rail turbocharged diesel engine - the Cooper SD is tuned to deliver 143bhp while delivering an impressive 225lb/ft of torque.

Combined fuel economy is just a tad off 66mpg, while emissions work out at 114g/km. Top speed is a more than ample 127mph and standing to 62mph takes only 7.9 seconds.

The Coupé retains the kart-like handling characteristics found in every model throughout the MINI family.

Aided by a speed-dependent electro-mechanical power steering system - which makes for easy parking and slow-speed manoeuvring while giving a tighter feel while at speed - the Coupé handles beautifully in every situation.

With its fabulous handling, the little Coupé excels, thanks in part to a razor-sharp six-speed gearbox, which makes light work of gear changes, and the use of the sport button which alters the response characteristics of the steering and accelerator, making for a sporty ride that certainly gets the pulse racing.

Another aid to the car's handling is the integrated spoiler which reduces lift at the rear axle. It activates automatically when the car reaches 50mph, then drops again when the car slows to below 37mph. However, the flick of a switch will keep the spoiler in position no matter what the car's speed.

Inside, the Coupé is MINI at its best. The usual brand traits are there, such as large round speedo set bang in the middle of the dash, while a panel of flick switches sit positioned aircraft-like above the driver's head.

To the rear, there is a 280-litre boot which actually offers more space than its Clubman sibling. It has capacity for two large cases or four hand luggage sized bags along with a couple of brief cases. A drop-down hatch even allows longer articles such as snowboards and golf bags to be accommodated.

To gain even more space, the parcel shelf can be removed and stored behind the seats, allowing even bulkier articles to be transported.

Safety features abound, including upgraded anti-lock brakes, cornering brake control, electronic brake force distribution, four airbags and run-flat tyres, while standard equipment also includes air conditioning, park distance control, digital radio/CD sound system, height-adjustable heated sports seats and three-spoke Alcantara steering wheel.

Sports car lovers really do adore this car, while it also appeals to those MINI owners who are looking for something that's just that little bit different, for being different is just what the Coupé is really all about.

An early 2011 11-plate diesel will cost between £8,150 and £10,995, while one kitted out with the optional chilli and sport packs will rise to anything from £9,625 to £12,940.

A similar 2012 machine on a 12-plate will set you back anything from £9,600 to £12,540, while one with chilli and sport packs will cost from £11,345 to £14,800.



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