The diesel-powered MINI Cooper D is a mileage-minded enthusiast’s dream car. With slot car handling and truly remarkable fuel mileage figures, it’s hard not to drool over the little gem. While MINI Cooper gas mileage is good, the MINI D’s numbers are insanely great.
After months of anticipation, I had the chance that few have had here in America. I spent the better part of a day with a sweet six-speed Nightfire Red MINI D.
Looking at the specs, it’s clear to see why this is the high-MPG king of the hot hatches. In UK measures, the six-speed manual transmission-equipped MINI Cooper D is rated at 60.1 urban / 80.7 extra-urban miles per gallon (MPG). That equates to roughly 50 city / 67 highway here in the States.
Alas, MINI hasn’t brought their diesel coupe to America. And there’s no official word on when, where, or if it might happen. But I knew that one had recently arrived here in the States, as part of Bosch’s in-house Euro Diesel fleet.
My long awaited day in the sun with the MINI D took place while attending the Alternative Fuels and Vehicles conference in Las Vegas. I had to pinch myself when the good folks at Bosch handed me the keys.
I’d done a bit of research before heading out, but I didn’t bother to print a map. I didn’t have a GPS system, but I knew where I was heading.
After loading up the car with my camera gear, I grabbed a bottle of iced tea from a machine in front of the the Rio Hotel and hopped in the driver’s seat. Quickly familiarizing myself with the cabin, I took off west on Flamingo Road, jumped on 215 North, then swung a left onto Charleston … where the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area shimmered ahead like a mirage.
Just minutes out of the city, the little MINI D was soon slithering down the one-way serpentine road that winds its way through the fantastic scenery.
While a 0-62 time of 9.9 seconds might not seem overly impressive, the MINI D feels faster then the numbers tell. The car is quick off the line, with the little diesel mill providing plenty of torque throughout the range. Unlike many small-displacement gasoline engines, the the MINI D’s 1.6 liter four-cylinder diesel engine is infinitely drivable, producing 110 horsepower (HP) and approximately 177 foot pounds of torque between 1750 and 2000 RPM (and a touch more than 191 with overboost).
The MINI D delivers in the city, in the twisties, and out on the highway. Stomp on it and the power is there.
At 70 miles per hour, the engine – jointly developed by BMW and Peugeot – turns at just 2000 RPM, at the peak of its torque curve. The horsepower peak comes around 4000 RPM.
Not as simple as it might seem, the MINI D is filled with high-tech systems:
Auto Stop-Start takes a page from the hybrid book, saving fuel by shutting down the engine when the car is stopped and the transmission is in neutral.
Automatic Stability Control + Traction, Anti-Lock Brakes, Cornering Brake Control, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution keep the tires glued to the ground.
Now there’s no denying that this is a small car. Some folks might not be able to get over that.
But it’s more than just a good thing that comes in this small package.
If you’re still commuting to work in a jumbo SUV, the MINI D presents a positively mind boggling equation: jump out of the SUV and into the MINI D and you could slash your fuel consumption by 75%.
There’s no word on when MINI will bring the diesel here to the States or how far along they may be with the engineering work. With a great many MINI enthusiasts in California, the company appears to be committed to a 50-state emission compliant solution.
We can only keep our fingers crossed that a clean diesel MINI D will soon cross the pond.
– by Daniel Gray
May 19th, 2008
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