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Externally, it looks identical to its petrol powered counterpart, the Cooper S Convertible. Under the car’s curvy clamshell bonnet, Mini has squeezed a 2-litre turbodiesel borrowed from the BMW 118d.
All of the above numbers are based on official consumption figures – your mileage will vary. Insurance costs favour the diesels – at 30 out of 50, the Cooper S Convertible ranks seven groups higher than the Cooper SD and 11 groups higher than the Cooper D soft top. The Convertible feels marginally more softly sprung than the Cooper SD hatch, but the difference may be down to wheel sizes and tyre profiles.
The sport button shares its hidey hole with a button for switching off the automatic stop-start, a fuel-saving system that works reliably and mostly unobtrusively.
The soft top opens and closes in about 15 seconds, and offers one-finger operation with no manual latches to fiddle with.
The folded roof piles up on the rear deck and cuts a little into the centre mirror’s picture of the world.
Overall the Mini Cooper SD Convertible is a highly desirable little car but it is quite pricey.
I've owned a Cooper SD for four weeks now, having eagerly upgraded from a 2008 PSA-engined Cooper D.
The guys from Liberty Walk are well-known around the world for their bolt-on wide body kits. If you want anything better than the John Cooper Works treatment, you’d have to look long and hard, however.
Admittedly, it might be too extreme for any random MINI driver but it does make it special nonetheless. Too bad the Japanese company didn’t make the kit for the current, model but instead chose the old R56 one. To be more precise, we’ll tell you that the complete works include a new front bumper and diffuser, side skirts, rear bumper and diffuser, rear wing, tailgate wing and a set of wide fenders.
It should also be pointed out that you’ll need a lowering air suspension and some separate wheels if you want your ride to look exactly like the one in the pictures.


There’s the same scoop on the bonnet, which looks purposeful but is actually just decoration.
At average April 2011 pump prices the SD would cost about £300 less to fill up over 10,000 miles.
Fuel costs seem certain to rise further, however, which will widen the gaps to an unguessable extent. I can tell it’s a diesel, even though the BMW-built unit is smooth and keeps most of its rattle and clatter to itself.
This is a great car for overtaking, zipping from 50 to 75mph in 7.1 seconds in fourth gear. It corners like a jackrabbit, bounces over bumps, communicates, entertains and cramps your legs.
Soft in the Convertible is a relative term – a slightly different level of rigidly firm. The engine cuts out smoothly when the car is stationary in neutral, and starts again promptly as the clutch is dipped to select first gear. Roof up, the car can feel a little claustrophobic, exacerbated by the dark cloth lining, and over-the-shoulder visibility is predictably poor. A Cooper D offers much of the same experience for a lot less – less initial outlay, lower running costs and fewer grams of CO2. Whilst I've never owned nor driven a petrol Cooper S, and so cannot draw comparison to that particular car, I can confidently say that the noticeable increase in performance between the two diesel cars is huge, and makes the SD seem utterly effortless in any gear. However, they usually do them for outrageously powerful cars that can easily be included in the supercar category.
As a matter of fact, it usually uses a fraction of what Ferraris or GT-Rs have at their disposal, even in JCW trim. The good news is that you can purchase parts separately in case you don’t like the whole mix taken together. And to keep my conscience as clear as the skies, the trip meter is showing consumption firmly on the frugal side of 50mpg. Slightly more predictable is that you’ll struggle to haggle much off the purchase price of a new Mini.


There are six gears on offer, but pick third to zip past a slow-coach and you’ll quickly run out of revs and need to change up. A stopped engine means no power steering, though, and it can take a noticeable moment for the assistance to come back to life as you set off. All four windows will dance up and down as part of the roof palaver, seemingly with a mind of their own, presumably ensuring they keep well clear of the roof’s scissoring struts. The Cooper SD offers intoxicating speed, but I can’t help feeling the cheaper, slower Mini is the one to go for. However, if you keep your stock setup in this regard, the wide body kit will look so weird you’ll be wondering what possessed you to go down this road in the first place. Only the badges are really different, with the addition of that final D, signifying that I’m running on diesel. Here the Cooper SD looks less tempting, starting at £21,130 before the inevitable option packs. The engine note turns gruff and coarse through the middle of its rev range, but up near the 5,000rpm red line the note changes again and becomes quite musical.
You’ll only feel this if you come to a stop with a fair amount of lock already applied. There’s also a helpful centre-console switch for raising or lowering all the windows at once. The icing on the cake for me is that, despite having only covered 1200 miles so far, with a combination of motorway trips, town use and some unrestrained blasts down country lanes, I am averaging about 50 MPG at the moment (I only used to get mid-50s from my Cooper D at its peak), and hopefully this should improve further with more miles! The front section of the canvas can be opened or closed like a sunroof, if you so choose, which is a nice option for those in-between days.



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