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Stingy Mr Cooper

CarBuyer Temporary Admin
03/09/2014

 

BANGKOK, THAILAND –

We’ve driven the third generation ‘New’ MINI a few times now, in various guises, both in Singapore and overseas, so on the surface a trip to Bangkok to drive them again seems unnecessary. But the presence of the MINI Cooper D at the car’s Thai launch and drive event provides for an interesting new perspective.

You see, Singapore has never gotten a diesel-powered MINI, and apparently that is not going to change any time soon, for reasons to be explained later. So, given the chance to try this forbidden fruit, we were certainly not going to pass up the opportunity.

First, the details. The Cooper D is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produces 116bhp and 270Nm of torque. Which means that in Singapore, this would have gotten the car a Cat A COE, further broadening its appeal, which makes it an even greater shame that it’s not coming here.

Why not, you ask? Blame Singaporeans’ general aversion to diesel cars. BMW, MINI’s owners, concede that our market is too small to justify bringing in a model that might not exactly appeal to most people, and for now would prefer to monitor our local market sentiments to see whether things would change. Until then though, a diesel-powered MINI is only a pipe dream for us.

And therein lies the great tragedy, because the Cooper D is nearly as fun to drive as its petrol-powered siblings, and yet offers even better fuel economy in the process. On the hour-long drive or so out of Bangkok towards Hua Hin, the Cooper D very much impressed for its all-round refinement and drivability. The car felt distinctly un-diesel-like, given the general lack of noise and rattling emanating from the powerplant, and the Cooper D was a rather smooth operator, feeling very much like a big car that seemed right at home cruising on the highway.

But what was even more impressive was the Cooper D’s fuel economy, which admittedly has to be the biggest selling point of this car. Granted, most of our drive was on relatively smooth highway roads, but to get 17.8km/L (and rising!) or 5.6 litres per 100km without any modicum of conservative driving is pretty amazing. If you’re careful with your right foot, you might come closer to MINI’s own quoted figures of 3.8 litres per 100km, but it’s heartening to know that even if you drive fairly spiritedly, the Cooper D is still an extremely frugal little thing.

Out on the track, the Cooper D acquitted itself pretty well too. Sure, it doesn’t quite have the same turn of speed as the hot hatch-esque Cooper S, but that’s not where its strengths lie. Where it matters, the Cooper D felt planted, safe, and overall rather enjoyable to drive. The usual MINI traits are present, with its quick and direct steering, and plentiful grip making it a very capable little car to punt around in.

At the end of the day, the Cooper D is yet another feather in MINI’s cap, and its combination of mature refinement, fun-to-drive nature and astonishing fuel economy makes it almost an irresistible package. It also demonstrates how far diesel technology has come these days, and until local buyers can see that, we’ll just have to let the Thais have all the fun.

To read more on our special MINI Cooper D drive in Bangkok, pick up a copy of CarBuyer issue 226, out on newsstands in mid-September.

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bangkok CarBuyer Cooper D diesel Mini Singapore

About the Author

CarBuyer Temporary Admin

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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