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Mini Coupe (2011 – ) expert review

By Ivan Aistrop, 17th April 2014

The verdict

The two-seater Mini Coupe is the sportiest car in the Mini range. It’s not cheap, but it’s big on style and fun – just what Mini buyers love.

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Expert rating:

3.7

Pros

  • Sportiest version of the Mini
  • Big boot
  • Great fun to drive

Cons

  • Two-seater
  • Looks will divide opinion
  • Noisy at motorway speed

Full Review

1. Exterior

Ever since the original Mini hatchback was reinvented, each new design has split the critics, but still attracted plenty of buyers. The Mini Coupe is no different, with its backwards-baseball cap profile and its bulky back end. Love it or hate it, it certainly gets noticed. More and more sporting design touches come as standard as you progress up the model range – and there are loads more to choose from on the options list, allowing you to really personalise your car.

Our rating: 4

2. Interior

The huge speedo and chrome toggle switches give the cabin that retro feel typical of all Minis, but as in other models, the dashboard is a classic case of style over substance. The ergonomics are terrible – even if you can find the switch you’re looking for, you might struggle to remember what to do with it. Rear visibility isn’t great, either, due to that strangely shaped roof, but the driving position is spot-on and has loads of adjustment. On the quality front, most of the materials look fairly smart, but some panels are a little bit disappointing and not up to the standards you’d expect from a Mini.

Our rating: 2

3. Practicality

As a two-seater, you might not expect much practicality from the Mini Coupe. You could well be pleasantly surprised: both chairs are surrounded by ample space, giving the cabin a roomy feel. More importantly, the boot is massive by coupe standards at 280 litres, and there’s a massive opening to lift items into. Granted, the floor is uneven, but there’s a handy hatch between the passenger compartment and the boot that lets you squeeze a small bag through without having to get out of the car.

Our rating: 4

4.Ride and handling

All Minis are set up for fun and, as the sportiest of the firm’s products, the Coupe is as enjoyable as Minis get. Grip is strong and body control is tight, while the steering is quick, responsive and jam-packed with feel. This gives the car stunning agility, and makes the Coupe a car that begs to be driven hard. It’ll reward you in spades when you oblige. If you’re looking at the diesel version, though, be warned. It’s not as sharp or as fun as the petrols because it has disconcertingly twitchy steering. Granted, all versions have a firm ride that won’t be to all tastes, but it’s not too punishing considering the Coupe’s handling ability.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

The three petrol engines on offer are all 1.6s and the range kicks off with the naturally aspirated Cooper, producing 120bhp. It’s no thunderbolt, but it delivers its power consistently and is quick enough to let you have fun. The turbocharged Cooper S has 181bhp and there’s a lot more sparkle to its performance. It pulls strongly from anywhere on the dial and is capable of true hot-hatch pace. The John Cooper Works version, with 208bhp, feels even more brutal, and it’s sensationally fast and flexible. The Cooper SD diesel on the other hand, which has a 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 141bhp, is rather disappointing: it doesn’t feel anywhere near as quick or as responsive as a car like this should.

Our rating:  4

6. Running costs

No Mini is cheap to buy, and the Coupe is no exception. However, when you compare prices with those of rivals such as the Audi TT and Peugeot RCZ, it actually starts to look like something of a bargain. The combination of that desirable Mini badge, the slinky styling and the rarity factor will also ensure that resale values stay high. Obviously, the diesel is the star performer for efficiency, returning an official figure of almost 66mpg. The petrols don’t do badly considering their power, either. The Cooper and Cooper S models fall just either side of the 50mpg mark, and even the JCW will manage almost 43mpg.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Although some of the Coupe’s cabin materials feel a little bland, there’s no doubting the solidity with which they’re assembled. Mini owners generally seem like a happy bunch according to the various customer satisfaction surveys, and although Mini’s mid-table standing in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer rankings isn’t particularly impressive, it’s acceptable.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

The Coupe hasn’t been crash tested by the experts of Euro NCAP and most other Mini models haven’t been tested for a good few years, but the Countryman did achieve the full five stars in 2010. The Coupe comes with most of the safety kit you expect, including four airbags and stability control.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

The entry-level Cooper comes with alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, air-con, electrically adjustable heated exterior mirrors, a DAB digital radio and a CD audio system. The standard kit gets a little more generous as you go up through the range and, as with all Minis, the sheer length of the options list means it’s very easy to hike the price of your car up by thousands without really trying. The Chili Pack is worth having, as it adds all sorts of desirable kit for an affordable price and also helps protect the resale value of your car.

Our rating: 3

10.Why buy?

The Mini Coupe does what Minis do best – mixing fun and style in a very appealing package. It’s an absolute hoot to drive, it’s more practical than you might think and, compared with other coupes, it makes a very strong case for itself financially.

Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.7stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior2
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Pick of the range:

Cooper S

Potent engine provides all the fun you’ll need

Most economical:

Cooper SD

Almost 66mpg, but takes the fun out of the car

Best avoided:

Cooper SD Auto

Expensive to buy and too short on fun

No Mini is cheap to buy, and the Coupe is no exception. However, when you compare prices with those of rivals such as the Audi TT and Peugeot RCZ, it actually starts to look like something of a bargain.