Used Mini Coupe
In its continuing quest to explore every possible niche market for the MINI line up, BMW has launched models into a number of sectors. The latest, introduced in 2011 is the MINI Coupe. It shares the same platform as the normal MINI hatch but with a lower roofline and only two seats it has a sportier intent and a look that is sure to divide opinions.
There are four engine options, three petrols and a diesel and they're all aimed at giving a sporty drive. Thanks to the car's compact dimensions though the Coupe offers impressive economy into the bargain.
Bang for your buck
The basic model is the Cooper with a 1.6-litre 122PS petrol engine. Next up is the turbocharged Cooper S with 184PS and the John Cooper Works with 211PS that makes it capable of 0-62 in 6.4 seconds. There's also a 143PS 2.0-litre Cooper SD diesel model. All have a six-speed manual gearbox.
There are no rear seats but as the Coupe is the same length as the hatch it has a usefully sized 280-litre boot. Equipment levels are good and as with other MINI models there's a vast range of customisation and colour options available and these can seriously ramp up the price of the car when bought new.
Combined cycle fuel economy ranges from a respectable 39.8 mpg for the fastest John Cooper Works Model to an impressive 65.7 for the Cooper SD. The diesel's low emissions mean it qualifies for zero VED in the first year and yet will still do 0-62 in 8 seconds and go on to 134 mph.
What you'll pay
A 61 plate Cooper will sell for around £14,000, expect to pay around £1,500 more for a diesel and £2,500 to £3,000 more for a John Cooper Works. A newer 12 plate Cooper will cost you in the region of £18,000.
What to check
The mechanical bits of the used Mini Coupe are well proven in other MINIs and aren't prone to many problems. There have been two recalls in the life of the Coupe, one for an oil filter problem and one for oil leaks from the timing chain tensioner so check that these have been done. MINIs have thinner windscreen glass than many cars so check carefully for chips as they can easily turn to cracks.
MINI parts can be expensive. Expect to pay around £200 for a clutch, £450 for a power steering pump and £80 for a front brake disc. Service parts aren't too bad, an air filer is around £20 an oil filer £12. Note that parts for John Cooper Works models tend to be more expensive.
How it drives
The MINI Coupe is all about the driving experience. It's a quick and fun car regardless of which engine you choose and its direct steering means threading one through a series of bends is guaranteed to put a soppy grin on your face. The firm suspension means there's little body roll though it does make for a stiff ride – worse on low profile tyres. All models have a Sport button which adds weight to the steering and gives better throttle response. The six-speed box has a longish throw but a precise shift action.
The diesel has slightly duller handling and a less enjoyable engine sound than the petrol engines it is, however, still a quick car and the best companion for a long motorway cruise.
Inside the low roof makes the Coupe feel a little claustrophobic and rear three-quarter visibility is poor too. The seats are attractive though and it's easy to get comfortable. All of the MINI styling cues are in place with retro-style toggle switches and a big, central speedometer. Some of the plastic trim feels a bit cheap though and the climate control system is confusing.
This attempt to turn the MINI into a sportscar is surprisingly successful. You'll either love or hate its looks but if you love them the Coupe offers a fun drive and good performance but without sacrificing economy. It's fairly practical too if you can live with just two seats. For the best blend of economy and performance go for the Cooper S which can get you from 0-62 in 6.9 seconds but still deliver 48.7 mpg economy.