LucireThe global fashion magazine October 17, 2017  Subscribe to the Lucire Insider feed
Subscribe to Lucire
latest news | fashion | beauty | living | volante | in print | tablet | tv
home | community | shopping | advertise | contact



Lucire: Living
autocade


Lucire 2011
Shh, it’s a diesel The Cooper D’s purposeful stance begs the driver for a drive

Playing a more sensible game

Turn on the ignition, and the Mini Cooper D sounds Germanic and sensible. That is, until you open it up on a tricky mountain road, says Jack Yan
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SABINE ERNEST

 

 

I HAVE no real problem with BMW making the claim that the Mini Cooper D is the country’s most economical car, but the absence of a trip computer, I thought, was a bit cheeky. Of all the Minis that had made their way to Lucire, this feature was always installed, and I delighted in returning test cars with better mpg ratings than what the previous journalist had managed.

In these times, driving in an economical fashion is no longer an art, it’s a necessity.

But in BMW’s defence, maybe omitting the feature made sense. While the company claims the Cooper D does 3·9 l/100 km (a remarkable 72 mpg Imperial) on a combined cycle, the question is not whether anyone in the press—outside the dedicated car magazines with their own testing gear—could match the number, but whether anyone would want to.

The D came didn’t come with the stripped-down looks that you might get when heading over to Ford for a Fiesta Econetic or Volkswagen for the Polo for its basic TDI. It looked like any Mini Cooper did, with stripes, alloy wheels and that purposeful stance that demanded that the first CD you ever put in to its audio system be The Italian Job’s 1969 soundtrack.

When the Cooper D looks that good, you want to relive scenes from the movie, and since ours was white, all we needed were another two in red and blue.

Everything inside is familiar enough: a comfortable seating position, the large, central dial harking back to the 1959 original, and, for safety’s sake, a digital read-out within the rev counter placed directly ahead of the driver. The radio managed to pick up and remain on our station of choice—the guard-band Groove FM on 107·7 MHz, one that not every car manages to stay locked on east of the Mt Vic Tunnel in Wellington. The design features were just as funky as when we last tested an R56 Mini hatch—namely the top-of-the-line John Cooper Works a few years ago—and you did not feel, despite this being the supposed economy model, that you were being short-changed. (That would be left to the One D, not offered in this market.)

It’s all good till you do put that CD in and turn on the engine. The throaty tune that sings through the Works, and, to a muted extent, the basic petrol Cooper S, isn’t there. It is replaced by a sensible BMW diesel purr, which is little surprise since the Cooper D shares its heart with the Einser, the 1-series. Sensibly, ours was equipped with stop–start, which should save even more fuel. The two-litre lump produces 112 PS (82 kW), which is healthy enough to propel the D through traffic, and give it a sufficient nudge coming out of Wellington’s motorway tunnel when the speed limit jumps from 60 to 100 km/h.

However, as much as Quincy Jones played through the sound system, the strains of ‘Self-Preservation Society’ cheering Mr Bridger on in The Italian Job, the engine note didn’t seem to stir the soul.

So is it a dud? No.

In fact, the Cooper D redeems itself arguably better than the petrol model, and I’m not going to get eco on you in writing this. So it’s 70 PS down on the regular Cooper S, but, frankly, you don’t feel 70 PS lighter with your right foot. In fact, Mini marketing has you expecting a go-kart with the regular S, and unless you put the gearbox in sport mode, it’s a sensible city car. The Clubman estate, even more so. But the D comes to you with the image of an economy car—and actually surprises as to how well it puts that 112 PS on to the road.

Where the car really shows its true colours is in its handling. I took the D over the Rimutaka Hill Road and back, perhaps the closest Wellingtonians would get to an Italian Job-like driving experience, with its twisty and often unforgiving turns. Who needs a Welsh B-road or, for that matter, Abbas–Mustan’s Players, the remake of the remake of The Italian Job, with its Wellington City chase scene? This is macho territory: the road where the human can measure how well connected one is to the machine.

And here, you forget the engine note. The Cooper D is so entertaining, so responsive, and so nimble that you feel incredibly fulfilled driving it. Quincy Jones’s music works once more. I was so engaged with the experience that this would be my car of choice if I had to do the trip again.

While I never knew what mileage I managed, it would certainly be healthier than the Works (7·1 l/100 km, or 39 mpg, a figure that we never matched, with 32 mpg at the end of our test). But why the Diesel over a car that entertains more often, from the moment you turn on the ignition?

The first is the obvious one: money. With fuel prices heading north constantly, a diesel makes sense, and if BMW’s claim of 72 mpg is true, then this is an excellent proposition—for the heart and the wallet.

The second is something you won’t see road testers admit to: that sometimes, less power is cleverer. It’s a matter of how well that power gets on to the road.

In my earlier days, testing the Peugeot 205 GTI 1·9 around Mt Victoria, I felt it was twitchy at the limit. Many cars are. And sometimes, you don’t want the temptation of a car that reaches those limits quite so easily. Around town, it’s unnecessary. With Gatsos and congestion, who needs the stress?

Cars like the Works are wonderful if you are purposely taking it out to a B-road with the intent of opening it up, but as a day-to-day proposition, you need a car to manage a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The Works is all Hyde. The Cooper D is, most of the time, Dr Jekyll—and it’s only on the most entertaining road that Hyde comes out. That makes sense to me.

So while you won’t be able to perform a gold heist in Torino—or Wellington, for that matter—doing the getaway is particularly sweet. •

 


Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.

 

Where the car really shows its true colours is in its handling. I took the D over the Rimutaka Hill Road and back, perhaps the closest Wellingtonians would get to an Italian Job-like driving experience, with its twisty and often unforgiving turns. Who needs a Welsh B-road or, for that matter, Abbas–Mustan’s Players, the remake of the remake of The Italian Job, with its Wellington City chase scene?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related articles
Lucire 2011 | The Global Fashion Magazine Mini Roadster unveiled: company calls it ‘spontaneous, open, irresistible’
Mini has announced its sixth model, the Roadster, essentially a convertible version of its recently released Coupé.
Lucire 2011 | The Global Fashion Magazine My fellow Countryman
Jack Yan samples the Mini Cooper S Clubman, saying that its extra door works, and that it’s more a rival to the little SUVs that Sloane Rangers drive about
photographed by the author
From issue 26 of Lucire
Lucire 2011 | The Global Fashion Magazine

Wealth preservation society
Jack Yan thinks he can be a hoon in the Mini John Cooper Works—but there’s an element of respectability to this new model
photographed by Tanya Sooksombatisatian
From issue 27 of Lucire

 

 

 

Facebook Lucire Facebook group
Digg This Digg it | Add to Facebook Add to Facebook


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Copyright ©1997–2014 by JY&A Media, a division of Jack Yan & Associates. All rights reserved. JY&A terms and conditions and privacy policy apply to viewing this site. All prices in US dollars except where indicated. Contact us here.