The MINI Cooper S name first graced the classic Mini back in 1963 and during the ensuing 48 years it has consistently been feted as the ultimate performance Mini, having won the Monte Carlo rally three times and countless other races and rallies around the globe.
It would be almost inconceivable that such an iconic heritage could ever see the valued ‘S’ tag attached to anything other than a finely-honed petrol engine with all its attendant sporting prowess. However, such is the progress made by BMW Group in developing powerful, responsive and efficient diesel units that for the first time the Cooper S badge will grace a new diesel model – the MINI Cooper SD. Not only will it be the most performance-oriented diesel MINI, the MINI Cooper SD will also feature the largest displacement power unit ever to grace the engine compartment of a MINI model in the marque’s 52 year history.
The two litre four cylinder power unit follows the design philosophy of the familiar 1.6 litre engine but produces 141bhp at 4,000 rpm, almost 28 per cent more than the Cooper D and nearly 60 per cent above that of the One D. Unsurprisingly its power, allied to a mighty torque figure of 225 lb ft from 1,750 to 2,700 rpm, the highest torque value of any MINI engine, even the engines within the John Cooper Works family, endows the Cooper SD with vivid performance: in the case of the Hatch a top speed of 134mph and a 0-62mph acceleration time of 8.1 seconds.
The new diesel engine features an all-aluminium crankcase to keep weight down while a special and very powerful turbocharger with variable intake geometry is controlled by the engine management system to deliver mighty thrust at all engine speeds. However, this new engine does not sacrifice efficiency on the altar of performance. The common-rail direct injection system features solenoid valve injectors in the centre of the cylinder head that inject each precise dose of fuel at a pressure of up to 1,600 bar. But this parsimonious technology is only the beginning because all five MINI Cooper SD models are equipped with the full panoply of MINIMALISM technology to eke ever more miles from every precious litre of diesel.
The MINIMALISM features include Brake Energy Generation, Auto Start/Stop, Shift Point Display, Electric Power Steering and demand-based ancillaries such as the alternator. The result is nothing short of miraculous. While the MINI Cooper SD Hatch will whizz effortlessly up the Col de Turini above Monte Carlo, it sips fuel at the rate of 65.7 mpg on the EU cycle and emits a mere 114 grams of CO2. This secures a zero VED rate and a company car benefit tax rate of 13 per cent including the 3 per cent diesel surcharge.
All Cooper SD models are equipped as standard with a new super light six speed manual gearbox. The 22.8 kilo transmission is the lightest gearbox of its kind and offers well-matched ratios and a precise, short shift gear lever action. A six speed automatic transmission is available as an option and includes shift paddles on the steering wheel for auto drivers with a sporty inclination. The new diesel engine features the same torque steer management software which was added to the petrol portfolio in September last year.
Complementing the performance potential of the MINI Cooper SD models some distinctive design features adorn the new cars. Echoing the distinctive style of the MINI Cooper S all SD models display a front apron with an extra large air intake and the familiar air scoop on the bonnet. At the rear each SD model sports twin exhaust tailpipes exiting in the centre of the rear apron and an eye-catching roof spoiler. Also in traditional Cooper S style, the side indicator surrounds carry the SD motif.