The humble Mini hatch has always been a great option for those on the hunt for something that can handle the daily grind yet offers enough character to ensure it becomes a true part of the family. Previous generations have proved popular but customer feedback has resulted in a number of quite drastic improvements appearing on the all-new model. Motors.co.uk headed to the temperate climes of Mallorca to test the spanking new Mini Cooper D…
What is it?
New engines, new suspension and tons of very cool tech now feature in the revised Mini Cooper, a car that the Anglo/German manufacturer believes is the best Mini ever. It’s a bold claim but at the heart of the range is a thoroughly reworked diesel model that offers awesome fuel economy, impressive performance and added practicality. It might not boast the blistering performance of the petrol-powered Cooper S model nor is it as cheap as the entry level, three-cylinder Mini ‘Hatch’ model, but it does a great job of offering a well-balanced blend of the two.
What is it like to drive?
Mini has always had a reputation for producing cars with ‘go-kart’ qualities – nimble handling, plucky engines and a compact exterior that just begs to be thrown into tight country road corners. The latest model continues to pile on the driving thrills and, thanks to a completely re-worked suspension set-up, it is now even more comfortable. The diesel engine isn’t the most powerful on the market and it does require a bit of gearstick juggling to keep it at optimum rpm but it is mighty frugal, offering an impressive 80.7mpg. The real key to the Mini’s likeability is that chassis, it straddles the line between fun and relaxing extremely well, while the engine – which can sometimes sound a little coarse – provides enough poke to turn your mundane commute home into a fun cross-country blast.
What is it like inside?
A massive improvement over previous generations. The funky clocks, quirky lighting and personalised plastic trim remain but Mini has injected its new line-up with a serious shot of premium appeal. A stunning optional 8.8-inch screen now sits in the large centre dial where the speedometer once lived. This crystal clear display, mated to a version of BMW’s i-Drive control system, operates all of the car’s function, many of which are new. Drivers can now upload music to a 20GB harddrive, utilise the crystal clear sat-nav system as well as tackle a whole host of cutting edge features that come courtesy of a new Mini app for smartphones. Surrounding the centre console is a neat LED ring that can act as a rev counter, pulse blue when it detects an incoming phone call or glow a luminous green when the driver selects ‘Eco’ mode.
Is it practical?
Engineers have listened to customer feedback and have attempted to make everyday life with the new Mini easier. Boot space is up 51 litres and a clever, three-layered load space allows for objects of differing shapes and sizes to be slotted in with ease. It’s still a bit of a faff to cram passengers in the back – although both leg and headroom have been marginally increased – and lifting child seats in and out will be a chore. Despite this, Mini has introduced ISOFIX fittings to the rear seats for the first time. A 60/40 split rear seat arrangement also means that it is possible to load bikes and other objects into the back with a bit of fiddling. New technology, such as parking assistance and advanced safety warning systems, also make the car much easier to use, especially in the city where many Minis will ultimately reside.
Should I buy one?
If you have always been attracted by the quirky package that Mini offers, then yes. And that’s a resounding yes. The new Mini is better than in predecessors in almost every single way and although some may bemoan the more ‘upmarket’ aspects of the latest version, they only serve to improve the car as an everyday driver, as well as aiding those all-important residual values.
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Model: Mini Cooper D Manual
Price: From £16,450 on the road
Engine: 1.5-litre, turbocharged, diesel
Max speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
MPG: 65.7mpg (urban), 91.1mpg (extra-urban), 80.7mpg (combined)
Emissions: 92g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested