WHY would you buy a diesel MINI Cooper? That seems quite a fair question given that the Cooper is all about agility, response and perky performance.
Even advocates of diesel engines must surely admit that here is one car that is unquestionably better with a petrol powerplant.
Or must they? Because if you look at MINI's sales figures to date, a sizeable proportion of British buyers clearly think that a diesel engine works in a Cooper-badged car.
This latest third generation MINI is bigger and better-finished than ever before.
In Cooper guise, it's powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine developing 116PS, which sounds about as sporty as Sunday morning with Eric Pickles but, as is often the case with MINI products, there's more to this car than meets the eye.
The Cooper D is all about torque. There's 270Nm available from just 1,750rpm, which means that you won't have to rev the engine hard to extract meaningful performance. Peak power arrives at 4,000rpm which is relatively high for a diesel engine, but you'll probably have shifted up before you get there.
Both a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic gearbox are offered and there's an optional sport auto available as well.
Stick with the manual transmission and you'll find a rev-matching mode on downshifts, making the shifts smooth and sporty-sounding. 62mph arrives in 9.2 seconds en route to a top speed of 127mph.
The suspension layout is retained, with struts up front and a multilink rear end, but everything has been toned a bit with the option of switchable active dampers. The spring rates are firm, so try it before you buy it.
For ride quality, smaller is better, although the standard 15-inch alloys may well be sacrificed for cosmetic reasons.
The steering system is electrically-assisted and there's a whole suite of safety systems. In addition to anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and cornering brake control with brake assistant, the stability control system in the new MINI includes a drive-off assistant, brake dry function, fading brake support and dynamic traction control. This latter system permits controlled slip at the drive wheels so as to facilitate driving off on loose sand or deep snow.
This Cooper D includes the MINIMALISM suite of environmental technologies which include a shift-point display function on manual cars, brake energy recuperation and need-oriented control of the fuel pump, coolant pump and other ancillary units.