Road Tests

Handbook: Mini Coupe

Time 10:43 am, February 13, 2012

The Mini brand is expanding yet again – this time into the niche Coupe market. James Baggott find out more

WHAT IT IS?

Yet another Mini that’s been tweaked to keep the brand’s sales moving upwards. Sales for the maker are up 14 per cent year on year in a market down five per cent and the Coupe aims to add around 3,000 a year to that total. Classed as a ‘halo’ model, it’s not expected to be a volume seller, but a rival to the likes of the VW Scirocco and Audi TT. It’s got a lower roof, boot spoiler and only two seats.


WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?

There are diesel and petrol options. As it’s the halo model, Mini won’t be offering One versions, only Cooper, Cooper S, SD, and John Cooper Works versions. We tried the SD and John Cooper Works. The latter is the range- topper offering 149mph top speed, 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds and 39.8mpg. The diesel is a bit clattery but great to drive. It returns 65.7mpg, hits 134mph and passes 60mph in 7.7s.

WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?

High. Standard equipment includes DAB radio, air-con, parking sensors, alloy wheels and sport stripes. But as with all Minis, it’s the personalisation – both via factory order and dealer- fitted accessories – which are plentiful. The famous TLC servicing pack is available for £249 and some 98 per cent of buyers are expected to take it up. We’d like to know who the two per cent are that don’t…


WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Enjoyable, but for taller drivers, extremely uncomfortable. The low roofline means you have to constantly creak your neck and the seats sent our legs to sleep within 10 minutes. It handles much like the hatch and in the dry is extremely chuckable, but in the wet it suffered with understeer. But none of that will stop fashion- hungry buyers snapping them up.

WHAT DO THE PRESS SAY?

Auto Express said they thought ‘the powerful model has the makings of a machine that will take the brand to a group of drivers who feel that the standard hatch just isn’t tough enough’. While rivals Autocar said: ‘If you can live with the striking looks and driving appeal is a priority, it’s certainly worth considering.’

WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?

The looks certainly grew on us during our test, but no amount of driving dynamics could take our attention away from the pain in our legs, not something any driver wants to experience. With only 3,000 expected to find homes, this low-volume model will be a fashion statement for style-conscious buyers. And with a Roadster due next year, it’s clear the Mini brand’s expansion is only set to continue apace.

 

 

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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