- We like...Fuel economy, class
- We don't...Poorly equipped for the price
Ever-popular Mini Cooper packs a diesel engine. It's economical and truly great to drive. Could it be the perfect small car?Right now, this is one of the most eco-friendly cars that you can drive. And it’s a shining example of how ‘going green’ needn’t also mean going glum. That said, you mightn’t expect that the perky, street-smart Mini would be at its best with a diesel motor under its bonnet.
But you’d be wrong, because the engine is a powerful, smooth little thruster that adapts well to the car’s zippy personality. It’s so civilised that you’ll notice that giveaway diesel ‘grumble’ only from pick-up at low revs. Otherwise, you’d be pushed to tell from the sound which fuel it uses. But the payoff of diesel shows in the up to 72.4mpg it promises, and the 104g/km of carbon dioxide puffing from its exhaust. Both figures are as good as it gets in economy and low pollution, helped by the car’s clever ability to turn itself off whenever it’s halted, the gears slipped to neutral and the clutch raised. To restart, you just dip the clutch and pick a gear.
The petrol-powered Cooper plays the same trick. It returns a creditable 52.3mpg and pumps out a still-low 129g/km of CO2. More to the point, it’s £1100 cheaper. So which should you buy? If you just think about the cash, you’ll need to cover plenty of miles before you turn a saving in the Cooper D. But there’s more to it than that. The diesel makes such a gutsy little car that you could easily decide it’s worth the extra, just because you prefer the way that it drives.
But there’s also something life-affirming about hacking along at the motorway limit, the dash readout showing mid-60s miles-per-gallon.
In every way, it is pure Mini: beautifully built (though some of the dash controls feel cheap), impossibly cute, and of a simply wonderful design. It’s strictly for four, and cramped in the back, while boot space is strictly for two bags of shopping unless you drop the rear seat-backs. You sit low before that cliff of the dash, with the rev counter in front of you and that dinner-plate of a speedo off to the centre.
While it’s a little car, it feels refined and very grown-up – comfy enough to tackle a 200-mile motorway jaunt in and emerge feeling fresh. And to drive it feels so alive, darting from one bend to the next, while delivering a stiff though still pleasant ride.
The car’s quite sparsely equipped as standard – air conditioning is an extra. But Mini offers an endless list of extras that send the price of a new one spiralling. Ours has the Chilli pack, which bundles the air con, half-leather seats, mats and trim upgrades for £2000 or thereabouts, plus upgraded alloy wheels (£390) and other bits and bobs that push its price above £17,000. And, believe us, it’s too easy to spend much, much more.
Still, Minis do at least lose value more slowly than almost every other car, and even seven-year-old examples fetch strong money. Check out how much you’d pay by scanning the used ones on motors.co.uk.
The Mini is certainly not cheap. But it’s excellent value, particularly if you factor in the almost silly-cheap servicing package deals the make offers from new. No surprises then that, after seven years on our roads, demand for new and used ones remains super-strong.
View new and used Mini Coopers on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.6 turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph9.9secs
- Insurance groups8E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: