IT appears there’s no stopping the march of the MINI. Last month the marque set a record in the UK with sales of nearly 7,800 models.
That’s impressive enough, but it’s even more so when you consider that this record was set with just half the range on sale.
Now the petrol-engined Cooper and Cooper S models have been joined by two new versions – the entry-level One and the diesel-engined Cooper D.
While it could be said these two new additions don’t offer the excitement of the performance Coopers, they will play an important part in MINI’s continued sales success.
MINI UK’s general manager, Andy Hearn, expects the Cooper D to take 5% of the total sales mix, with the One accounting for nearly a quarter of registrations. With the brand expecting sales in the UK of 50,000 units this year, that means around 12,500 Ones and 2,500 diesels.
While the petrol Coopers will continue to take the lion’s share of sales thanks to their performance and style, the new arrivals will help bring new drivers to the car.
The One is priced at £11,610 – way below the £13,010 Cooper petrol. It is powered by a 1.4-litre version of the engine in the Cooper, offering 95bhp.
It’s not the most exciting MINI, but its performance on the spreadsheet is more impressive.
Claimed fuel economy is 49.6mpg and CO2 emissions are 138g/km, meaning a benefit-in-kind tax bill of £31 a month for a 22% taxpayer.
And with CAP estimating the One will retain a massive 57% of its cost new after three years/ 60,000 miles, wholelife costs and monthly rentals should be similarly low, too.
The diesel Cooper uses a 110bhp turbocharged four-cylinder unit, delivering average fuel economy of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of just 118g/km – placing it in the £35 a year band D for VED.
However, as impressive as those numbers are, its high price counts against it. At £14,175 it costs around £1,100 more than the 120bhp Cooper petrol and £2,500 more than the One. As a result, it will cost the same taxpayer £46 a month.
The Cooper D’s RV of 52% is good, but not as impressive as the more financially attractive One. However, a word of caution. These headline prices are rather misleading because both models, in line with the petrol Coopers, need a fair degree of speccing-up to make them more attractive to new and used buyers.
Since the mark two MINI was launched in November last year, 67% of Cooper owners and 92% of Cooper S owners have specified the optional Chilli pack which costs £1,995 and includes, among others, part-leather seats, sports steering wheel, air-conditioning, alloy wheels and sports seats.
Air-conditioning, which is considered essential in cars these days, is not standard on either new model and costs £890 as an optional extra.
However, this scrimping on spec hasn’t harmed the brand in the UK, and the success story looks set to continue.
Mr Hearn said: ‘The car is in demand, which means residual values stay high. The front-end proposition is strong and the demand/supply ratio means there is little need for discounting.’
MINI will be targeting local businesses in terms of fleet sales, although it admits that the range is far more of a retail proposition, with around 12% of sales going to fleets.
While the old-shape Convertible remains on sale, the all-new Clubman with extra rear space will arrive later this year, bringing more versatility to the range.
|Model:||MINI One||MINI Cooper D|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||95/6,000||110/4,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||103/4,000||177/1,750|
|Max speed (mph):||115||121|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||49.6||64.2|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||138||118|
Behind the wheel
IF you’re familiar with the interior of the Cooper and Cooper S models then you’ll feel right at home in the new additions.
The One and Cooper D both feature the same retro design cues which have made the model such a success, including a large speedo in the middle of the dashboard and metal toggle switches for features such as the electric windows.
My first drive was in the One and with just 95bhp from its 1.4-litre engine it feels strained. Getting the One up to speed takes some time and the engine feels tight as it nears the higher end of the rev range.
The exact opposite is true of the Cooper D, which feels much lighter on its feet. Thanks to its extra mid-range power (maximum torque of up to 192lb-ft is available for overtaking thanks to an overboost feature) the Cooper D makes an easy job of getting about.
The diesel engine is also impressively quiet and there is little in the way of noise intrusion into the cabin.
Although lacking the performance sparkle of their faster petrol Cooper brothers, both new models still retain that fun element in terms of ride and handling, allied to direct steering and a slick gearbox.
MINI can seemingly do no wrong. For drivers who aren’t too concerned with performance, the One and Cooper D make attractive propositions. While the One stacks up financially, it is out-performed on the road by the impressive and refined Cooper D. Beware of the basic price though.