Drive Thru: MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

Earlier today the opportunity for a quick taste of MINI’s new Cooper D came my way. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to see just how Australia’s most economical car drives. That’s not a typo, with a miserly fuel consumption figure of 3.9l/100km and CO2 emissions at a super low 104g/km, the 1.6-litre diesel powered MINI presents itself as the hot hatch with a conscience.

If those stats don’t mean anything to you, they undercut the Hollywood-hyped Toyota Prius and highlight that the folks at GreenVehicleGuide.gov.au have some work to do at the top of their chart (see the comments section below).

First, let me say straight off the bat, the Cooper D is not a genuine hot hatch. If you are looking for all out thrills in a small package where the emphasis is not on compromise, then best look further up the MINI food chain to the Cooper S or JCW models, or even over the road to your closest Renault, Mazda or Volkswagen dealer.

If, though, you are prepared to compromise on your driving wishlist then the Cooper D is your car. MINIs are criticised for being compromised in terms of packaging, and whether that is a negative aspect or not really comes down to the individual. The compromise on economy the “Dooper” offers, however, is all good.

In short, you can thrash the living daylights out of this car and not hurt your wallet. Assuming that you do have sympathy for mechanical components from time to time then the Cooper D will continue to reward. The famous razor-sharp MINI steering is still there. The deadly accurate turn-in is still there. The nimble point to point chuckability is still there. And, more importantly than any of those things, the all out fun factor is still there.

As I said, this is not a true hot hatch. A car with a sweet spot that exists between around 2500-4000rpm can never provide the thrills of a first gen Cooper S, for example, which is happy and able to hover around redline all day long. So, in the diesel you need to take the time to find that turbocharged sweet spot and alter your driving to suit.

With that short sweet spot in the rev range you’ll be changing cogs quite a bit, so the slick and accurate gear change of the 6-speed manual is welcome. I can’t see the optional 6-speed auto being quite as inspiring, though.

The start-stop function is a little odd at first, and cruder than I imagined. But it doesn’t take long to get used to the system and it simply adds to the character of the car. Likewise the diesel clatter from the engine bay that rears its ugly head at times. This offers character, too, in a not so good form, however. But, again, I can imagine one would get used to it and even enjoy the reminder of compromise that it brings.

There’s not much compromise on performance when zipping in and out of traffic inside city limits, either. Sure, it’s no rocket ship, but, thanks to a peak torque figure of 260Nm on overboost the car gathers pace easily enough, if that’s your go. If it’s not, you can simply sit back and enjoy the ride letting the regular 240Nm of torque do its thing on your behalf. I didn’t sample it for myself, but I am reliably informed that the Cooper D can handle freeway driving with a minimum of fuss as well.

In closing, when appraising the MINI Cooper D one needs to take the usual goalposts and give them a different slant. You can approach the car a couple of ways—is it a conventional car with a twist, or a car that does away with convention? It does a little bit of both, and in doing so offers a new alternative to opposing market segments.

For the Prius loving greenies, the MINI Cooper D takes their odd looking and compromised driving experience and gives it a massive slap. BANG! Saving the planet needn’t be such an outward exercise in showing that you are prepared to give up on driving enjoyment to save a few whales.

For the pure hot hatch Paddy Hopkirk wannabes the MINI Cooper D takes their spine tingling, and often spine jarring, driving experience and gives it a gentle massage. OH YES, THAT’S THE SPOT! Pure driving enjoyment needn’t be such an outward exercise in brashness and wallet burning fuel bills.

So, the MINI Cooper D gets the AUSmotive tick for car buyers willing to alter their purchasing parameters. And now that you have read all that, this car can be summed up in a few short words—it’s a Super Dooper!

Pics and launch day press release are available after the jump. More information on the Cooper D can be read here and here.

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI Cooper D

MINI D Day. Australia’s Most Fun and Fuel Efficient Car Arrives

20 May 2009 – The first diesel powered MINI has arrived in showrooms, claiming the title of Australia’s most fuel efficient car.

The new MINI Cooper D can travel 100 kilometres using only 3.9 litres, according to the official combined fuel consumption test.

Thanks to MINIMALISM features, which include the innovative Auto Start Stop function and Brake Energy Regeneration, the Cooper D will emit just 104 grams of CO2 per kilometre

Motorists can expect to spend less than $15 per week to fill up the MINI Cooper D when they travel the national average of 15,000 kilometres.

Proving that efficiency doesn’t have to be boring, the MINI Cooper D is the fastest accelerating diesel model in its capacity class.

Available from $33,750* the new diesel-powered MINI also comes to market with a strong price advantage against existing hybrid models.

MINI Australia national manager, Justin Hocevar, is confident Australians will recognise the twin benefits of fuel efficiency and excitement in the new MINI Cooper D.

“For the first time in Australia, buyers will be able to buy an extremely fuel efficient car, with very low emissions, without having to sacrifice excitement and performance,” Mr Hocevar said.

“Thanks to MINIMALISM, buyers do not have to forgo typical MINI levels of driving fun, premium quality and safety and a host of personalisation opportunities when they decide to purchase an efficient car,” he said.

The new MINI Cooper D demonstrates the great potential of modern diesel engines more impressively than ever before and will be the first overtly sporty diesel car in this segment.

It produces comparable CO2 emissions to hybrid cars on sale in Australia, yet provides very perky performance from its 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine.

The MINI Cooper D comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the option of a six-speed automatic transmission.

The MINI Cooper D is also fitted with several MINIMALISM features (MINI’s version of BMW EfficientDynamics), including an Auto Start Stop function (manual transmission only) which means the engine automatically switches itself off when the vehicle is stationary, instead of idling and wasting fuel.

Further MINIMALISM features are Brake Energy Regeneration, previously only available on the BMW M3 and BMW 7 Series, and a Shift Point Display that prompts the driver to make upshifts at the most economical time.

In addition, the MINI Cooper D has a streamlined underbody aerodynamic panel for reduced drag, and on-demand functioning ancillaries, such as Electric Power Assisted Steering, a switchable water pump, and volume flow regulated oil pump.

All these features serve to reduce fuel consumption.

The 80 kW diesel engine delivers a punchy 240 Nm of torque between 1,750 rpm and 2,000 rpm, 70 percent of which is available at just 1,250 rpm.

This is the third turbocharged MINI engine, joining the petrol-fuelled MINI Cooper S and MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works models, both of which feature twin scroll turbocharging.

Like the MINI Cooper S engines, the lightweight (123.5 kg) MINI Cooper D engine also offers a torque “Overboost” feature. This injection of an extra 20 Nm of grunt punts peak torque to 260 Nm at short notice, for even swifter overtaking. The “Overboost” is accessed by pressing the accelerator pedal to the metal.

The MINI Cooper D is the fastest accelerating 1.6-litre diesel powered car in the class in Australia, and the most frugal, by a significant margin.

In addition to incredible fuel economy, the MINI Cooper D delivers very low exhaust emissions of carbon dioxide.

The combined cycle fuel consumption figure is a miserly 3.9-litres per 100 km, with only 104 g/km of CO2 emitted. That means the average range per tank is over 1,000km and for the average consumer covering 15,000km per year a weekly fuel bill of under $15 per week (based on average metropolitan diesel fuel price of 1.19 per litre).

Never before has a MINI been so economical and low on emissions – and never before has so much driving fun been available combined with such low fuel consumption and exhaust emission levels.

With a maximum range of 1,025 km from a tank, a MINI Cooper D could comfortably travel from Sydney to Melbourne without refuelling its 40-litre tank.

The 1.6 litre four-cylinder power unit has common rail direct injection (operating at 1,600 bar) and a turbocharger that uses variable turbine geometry which ensures perfectly matched power delivery at all engine speeds, and extremely responsive performance. The turbocharger was developed specifically for the MINI Cooper D.

The degree of turbo-boost is increased at higher speeds for more power and performance, giving the new engine superior torque all the way to the red line, thus enhan­cing its sporty character.

Pre­cisely controlled injectors ensure a super smooth multiple-injection process for each operating cycle, enhancing engine refinement. The six intake ducts in the new injectors are only 0.135 mm in diameter, and the combustion chambers have been optimised in their shape and dimensions to prevent unwanted turbulence and maintain a smooth and consistent combustion pro­cess.

This extremely precise fuel injection process minimises both fuel consumption and emissions from the start.

The exhaust system is fitted with a particulates filter and meets the Euro 4 emissions standard.

The MINI Cooper D Hardtop is identified externally via a more muscular curve to the power dome on the bonnet to accommodate larger induction plumbing-work and rear badge. Additionally a large intake below the bumper, which feeds air to the heat exchanger, has a unique patterned grille, and is bisected by a slim, body coloured bar.

As with all MINI models, the MINI Cooper D customer will be able to customise their very own vehicle with a multitude of interior and exterior trim and colour options. The full range of MINI factory and dealer fit accessories will also be available.

Customer deliveries commence on Monday 18th May.

*Pricing mentioned above is the recommended price before statutory and delivery charges.