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The Top Gear car review: Mini Coupe
For:Quirky styling, bigger boot, cracking drive and surprising economy
Against:Stupid 'helmet roof' name, bouncy on bad roads, claustrophobic
1.6 Cooper 3dr
Makes considerably more financial sense than the JCW Coupe, and drives better too. Win and win!
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What we say:
It'll sell because it's iconic, but the Mini Coupe has few plus points to make it stand out
What is it?
A two-seat version of the BMW-reinvented Mini. Think of it as the more frivolous ying to the sensible Mini Countryman’s yang. Let’s face it, nobody bought the regular three-door Mini for its rear legroom, did they?
As you can see from the pictures, Mini didn’t only turf out the rear seats, it took a chainsaw to the whole glasshouse and replaced it with something far more distinctive. It proudly refers to the design as the ‘helmet roof’. Yikes.
No surprises here, really. The Coupe drives much like any other Mini most of the time. That’s a good thing if you like the direct, sharp steering and the keenness with which the nose turns into corners, but, as ever, the suspension can feel bouncy over poorly surfaced roads – of which we have one or two in the UK… Saying all that, if you’re buying a coupe it’s fair to assume you want the sporty drive to go with it.
Just how sporty is up to you, as each of the four models comes with three chassis set-ups varying from normal to rock hard. The basic Cooper is a gem. The Cooper SD has loads of real-world grunt (and decent economy). The Cooper S is as quick as anyone needs, while the John Cooper Works really makes the chassis, er, work for its living. That’s thanks to 208bhp and a twin-scroll turbocharger that likes to shred the rubber from your tyres. We like that.
On the inside
If you close your eyes and get into the car (mind your head) and only look forward, it doesn’t seem much different to the hatchback. The windscreen is more raked and the roof is a little lower, but it’s the same quality cabin with an acceptable level of equipment.
Some like the oversized speedometer in the middle and some don’t, but it could never be mistaken for anything other than a Mini. It’s all change behind, though, with a small parcel shelf in place of rear seats and an access panel to the remarkably big boot. Dirty weekends a go-go.
We suspect that most buyers of the Mini Coupe will choose it based on its looks, and maybe how it drives, but they’ll eventually realise that their fuel bills aren’t too bad either. That is unless they’ve gone for the bonkers John Cooper Works model and their daily commute is driven like a qualifying lap.
Even so, that version manages nearly 40mpg on the combined cycle, while the Cooper SD returns a fantastic 65.7mpg. Mini offers fixed-price servicing that helps keep costs down, while the sensible models aren’t too costly to insure and all Minis hold their value well. Buying one is a canny investment.