The new Mini Cooper D has a powerful turbodiesel engine that makes it fun yet frugal
Power of D GEARED FOR A LIVELY PERFORMANCE: Because the Mini is short and low to the ground, it has an excellent centre of gravity which translates to awesome cornering prowess

MUCH has already been written about the new Mini, its styling and its novel three-cylinder engine, so perhaps the most salient point about the Mini Cooper D is that it is a COE Category A model with amazing fuel efficiency.

As a small three-door, four-seater model which is fun to drive and easy to park, the Mini hatch seems to be the ideal city car. For the Mini Cooper D variant, there is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbodiesel engine to drive the front wheels. Because it produces just 116 hp, it is only the second Mini after the petrol-powered Mini One 1.2 to have Cat A status. But unlike the Mini One's 180 Nm, the D's small diesel unit is capable of summoning an eye-popping 270 Newton-metres of torque.

Its zero to 100 kmh acceleration of 9.2 seconds is not much better than the One's 10.2, but on speed-restricted Singapore roads, it doesn't matter much. Floor the accelerator of the Cooper D and it promises lively performance from stationary.

Some diesel clatter can be heard when idling but once on the move, it is not noticeable. What is though, is its smoothness and the linear delivery of the turbodiesel unit.


The six-speed automatic gearbox has tall gearing for maximum fuel efficiency, so choosing Sport mode is necessary if you want to go fast and exploit the Cooper D's handling abilities. Because the Mini is short and low to the ground, it has an excellent centre of gravity which translates to awesome cornering prowess. It seems like there is no need to slow down for most corners; just turn the steering wheel and the Cooper D obliges - sans understeer or body roll.

In terms of specifications, the Cooper D 1.5 is the closest to the petrol-engined Cooper 1.5, so both do not come with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. For manual changes, the gear lever has to be used and it employs Mini's more natural shift logic with a forward nudge to downshift and a backward pull for upshifts.

If one of the other two driving modes - Green or Mid - is chosen, the Cooper D claims an impressive 3.9 litres per 100 km, or 25.6 km per litre under the combined cycle. In theory, that means its 44-litre tank is good for 1,130 km, or Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and back, plus a few hundred km more.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel unit is part of parent BMW's Efficient Dynamics engine family and one interesting aspect about it is that it shares 40 per cent of its components with the Cooper's petrol version. And although diesel cars are usually heavier than petrol cars, the 1,150 kg Cooper D's weight deficit of 35 kg is fairly small compared with the Cooper.

Also interesting is that while diesel models can cost more than petrol variants in Europe, the Cooper D is S$4,000 cheaper than the Cooper in Singapore because the Cooper requires a more expensive Cat B COE.

So it appears diesel really is the cost-efficient choice here.

CAR INFORMATION

MINI Cooper D 1.5 (A)

Price

:$137,300

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line 12-valve MINI Twin Power Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,496 cc

Horsepower

:

116 bhp

Torque

:

270 Nm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

9.2 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

200 km/h