Jul 26, 2008

MINI Clubman Cooper D

The desirable Cooper D is a very funky way of going green.

On the road price: £15,400
For : Superb economy, fine drive, stylish looks, extra practicality
Against : High prices, still not as practical as a supermini
The Clubman Cooper D’s driving enjoyment and performance are first rate. As with petrol versions of the sporty Clubman, it has precise steering, great body control and bags of character. The 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine is refined and never has to be pushed hard, while the ride is superb. BMW has got the balance of efficiency and pace spot-on – the Cooper D proves it’s cool to be green.

Whereas many manufacturers dress up eco brands with specific badges and bonnets, BMW prefers instead to spread its plant-friendly technology across its entire range. EfficientDynamics has led the way in making quick and effective reductions in emissions on many of the make’s models – and every new MINI. Features include a regenerative braking function, which uses brake energy to recharge a hi-tech battery via the alternator, which results in less engine drag. The MINI is even more economical than conventional diesel superminis – ‘green’ competition instead comes from the SEAT Ibiza ECOmotive, Polo Bluemotion and Skoda Fabia GreenLine. It is also a cool alternative to a Toyota Prius, whose 109g/km CO2 emissions figure it shares.

From the driver’s seat, it’s hard to tell you’re in the greenest MINI Clubman, as the stylish layout is carried over. The six-speed gearbox shifts just as keenly, and is not saddled with over-long ratios, which can make for frustrating twisty-road progress. EfficientDynamics does add a gearshift indicator though, while the stop-start system’s operation is indicated by a warning symbol in the rev counter. The benefit of the Clubman is that extra rear door, opening onto a roomier rear cabin, while the twin rear doors reveal a larger boot than the standard hatch, too. But this extra practicality comes at little cost. Our test model averaged 57mpg – an excellent result, and better even than the Polo Bluemotion and SEAT Ibiza ECOmotive. Retained vales are also excellent.

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