The MINI D in the US, Part II

Bosch sure is being generous with it’s handing out of the test drives on the MINI Cooper D they have in the US for testing. This time, NextAutos gets a shot.

We at Winding Road and NextAutos are always eager to test the diesel offerings from global manufacturers and we were grinning with excitement when the folks at Bosch offered us the keys to a Mini Cooper with a 1.6-liter diesel engine. According to Bosch, this Mini will achieve fuel economy numbers in upwards of 50 miles per gallon, which will shame many hybrid offerings currently sold in the States.

They were letting anyone drive it from the looks of it. This is what the Art Director had to say.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had as much fun in something so economical. I’d easily trade the dampened performance for the extra MPGs – it’s a no-brainer if we’re talking daily-driver. Too bad we can’t look forward to having these here in the states anytime soon.

Click through for the rest of the story and some great photos.

Thanks John for sending this in!

[ Forbidden Fruit: 2008 MINI Cooper D ]
  • Mark Smith

    Hey Guys. Any chance you all can make friendly with Bosch to test this car out. I am sure inquiring minds would like to know your impression of it on U.S. roads.

  • Lee L

    I think it would be funny to test drive it through California with a big sign about how it gets 50 mpg and California’s rules will not let it be imported here.

  • Ken

    It still continues to baffle me why we can’t import this car to the US. The MINI Cooper Diesel has CO2 emissions that match that of a Prius at .5 pounds per mile, and for that one gallon of gas at an average of 50 MPG, that’s 25 pounds of CO2 on 1 gallon of gas. An Infinite FX that we can import that puts out over 1.1 pounds per mile and to go that same 50 miles, the Infinite would put out over 55 pounds of CO2 and burn 3.3 gallons of gas. Our government would like us to get off our dependence on foreign oil and reduce our carbon imprint. It would seem like our government isn’t doing their part by living up to what they preach, and that big oil still has to much of a grip on our economy. The argument here will be the NOX emissions on the MINI. I’d like to know how the NOX emssions of the MINI compare to the of an Infinite. One gallon of gas burned in the MINI compared to 3.3 gallons by the Infinite. Where’s the trade off? For a daily commuter, I’d love to see the MINI Cooper D in the US. I’m also anxiously awaiting the testing of the MINI Cooper Electric, though I’m sure it’s emissions to will be to high for US standards.

  • Jon

    Still the most humorous issue though is that California is stressed by the emissions of the Mini D while doing nothing about the 10/15 mile per gallon SUVs that is the most common sight on the roads in California. Makes no sense to stress over the particulate while of the Mini D while a huge number of vehicles are as efficient as just pouring gas into the gutter.

    I am all for improving the environmental standings on vehicles I believe the decision is political grand-standing at its best.

  • C4

    The Dooper has the potential to literally put Toyota out of business. I am sure many here in the US will love to keep this car away just to keep up the hybrid hype and the promise of high MPG with trickery.

  • C4

    Ken & Jon. You both bring very good points to the table. I don’t buy the official line that we have been feed so far as to why the Dooper needs to be kept away from our shores.

  • Dr Obnxs

    It’s not a scam, it’s because we more heavily regulate particulate emissions than Europe does. Plain and simple.

    FWIW, this may make you cry but you get amazing results with diesel hybrids. You can run a small diesel motor decoupled from the drive train at maximum efficiency to charge the batteries and then drive an electric drivetrain. Remember, electric motors get maximum torque at zero RPM where you really need it.

    Hybrids ARE an excellent drivetrain. Why do you think that diesel/electric locomotives have been using them for years? Really, it’s just about how you optimize the drivetrain in the face of whatever contstraints are put in place. Europe has diesels because gas is taxed more heavily than diesel fuel. Us has gas/electric hybrids because we penalize particulate emissions and don’t give a tax subsidy to diesel fuel. It’s all pretty simple if you choose to learn the whys of what we have. Also takes the wind out of the “conspiricy theory” pushers.


  • Jon

    I hear what your saying Matt, not and conspiracy theory here. I just feel that like normal politicians like paying lip-service more than the root issues.

    I do like the diesel hybrids as a part of the solution. I just do feel that the Mini D is less worse for the environment than the large number of very low mileage SUV prowling around in California.

  • GregW

    As much as they have tried to make diesel an attractive choice, I still cannot stand the smell of diesel fumes. It gives me a headache and puts me off the idea. As well, if you spill diesel fuel on your hands while filling up at the pumps, the smell of diesel fuel on your skin is hard to get rid of without major soap washing. Untuned diesel vehicles and cases where the engine emits black clouds of partially burnt fuel are not a good look either. Having said that, the only advantage is extra mpgs.

  • Alan Smithee

    GregW, the combination of increased mileage AND increased torque is what makes diesels ideal. Diesel fuel smells if you get it on your hands? Please. Gasoline doesn’t? If that “puts you off the idea” of reducing oil consumption by 30%, you fall into the same narrow-minded category as those mentioned in the article that will write off diesels because they were bad in the 1970s and 1980s. Time to evolve, man…

  • GregW

    Alan Smithee – I only made the comment because the smell and polution is an issue for me personally. Yes, I know that extra torque is an advantage. Why have we been using petrol instead of diesel since its invention? Diesel cars aren’t new, perhaps only new to USA but most of the world has taken the diesel car option years ago. You are just substituting one fuel for the other from the same source – out of the ground. Hydrogen and Electric are the real alternatives (see previous article on BMW MINI electric research).

  • Wish it was here, what more can I say?

  • Jeff R.

    When MTTS came through Virginia Beach I was introduced to the VP of Mini USA and immediately asked, “Where the hell is my Mini D??” Of course the poor man was dumbfounded by my question. He directed me to his tech man whom I asked the same question. He told me that (this is from my memory and might not be accurate) BMW is working on a diesel engine for the 1 series that will also likely be used for the Mini that has cleaner emissions and thus, will be 50 state compliant on emissions.

    He also told me that the current Mini D is only 11 state compliant and can NOT be imported for that reason. 🙁 I told the VP and the tech guy that I would trade my beloved MCS in in a heartbeat for the increased efficiency of the MCD.

    Those who complain of the noxious clouds from diesel engines do have valid complaints but, they seem to be recalling days past when diesel cars were indeed an effective form of mosquito control. Modern diesel engines are drastically cleaner burning and the ones that burn biodiesel in high percentage mixes really do have exhaust that smells like cooking french fries.

    I hope that when Mini does bring the MCD to the US that it will have the capability to burn B80 (80% biodiesel / 20% dino diesel mix) fuel.

  • AN

    I love the idea, C4, that a factory that can produce 200K cars per year can “literally” put Toyota out of business. Yes, if the factory switched to making only Cooper D’s, and if they all came to the US, it’d hurt a lot of manufacturers, but not sure I see any of them going out of business. Well, besides the ones that are working good and hard at going out of business already. I’m looking at you GM.

  • Big Jim

    I gave up waiting for the diesel. I’m very happy with my Culbman S, but I would have gotten the diesel if it were available.

  • bee1000

    I’m surpised the acceleration is so slow (9.9 sec to 62 mph), and I won’t be convinced of the D until it is tested back-to-back with a Cooper to give an accurate mileage comparison.

    Pat Bedard in Car and Driver (I think it was Pat) had an interesting article about diesel coming to the US. There is a definite problem with supplying diesel in large quantities to the US in that you can’t just switch gasoline refineries over to diesel refineries. So as seemingly easy it would be to use less fuel in the US by importing and buying more diesel, the fuel-supply system is nowhere near ready to supply the fuel. And I believe the current worldwide split between diesel and gasoline production results in an efficient use of crude oil. Changing the balance to produce more diesel would through that out of whack. [I’m paraphrasing from a column from a couple months back, feel free to correct my misperceptions.]

  • Alan Smithee
    You are just substituting one fuel for the other from the same source – out of the ground. Hydrogen and Electric are the real alternatives.

    Obviously diesel is also a fossil fuel, however in modern cars it is ~40% more efficient. That’s significant. And with the current AdBlue systems, pollution is no longer an issue. Diesel is the only real alternative right now…hydrogen and cost-efficient fossil-fuel-free electric (read: solar/wind/etc.) are still years away.

    bee1000, I read Bedard’s article as well, and I don’t agree with him. For instance, here in Los Angeles I’m seeing almost all buses running on CNG now…that frees up a LOT of diesel fuel for passenger cars if people were to switch over night…which they obviously won’t, because you can count the diesel cars available right now on one hand. If diesels catch on in the US, I think it will be a gradual enough transition for refineries to adapt.

  • Jeff R.

    Bee1000 there is no way in the world that adding even 50k diesel cars to the road in America will harm the diesel supply. A great many stations now sell B20 Biodiesel. In case you aren’t aware, B20 means that it’s 20% biodiesel, 80% dino diesel. A great many now also sell B100. Think of the fossil fuel savings that that alone will bring about.

  • Alan Smithee

    Jeff, unfortunately running even B20 will likely void the warranty on a modern diesel. Mercedes allows B5 only.

  • There’s going to be a lot of giant hybrid batteries in the ground in a few years, all leeching into your drinking water. Hydrogen without batteries is best, but until then I’d rather we breathed diesel fumes. Plant more trees!

  • Aaron
    The Dooper has the potential to literally put Toyota out of business.

    OK, C4, I know you don’t like hybrids, but I think this is taking it a bit far 😉

  • Aaron
    As much as they have tried to make diesel an attractive choice, I still cannot stand the smell of diesel fumes. It gives me a headache and puts me off the idea.

    I think a lot of folks in America equate diesel with the thick black smoke coming out of trucks and buses and old Mercedes-Benz’s and VW’s from the 80’s. While it’s true that diesel technology has vastly improved, there’s little evidence in the US to convince people that this perception is indeed out of date. In Europe and in Africa, diesel cars make up a large percentage of vehicles on the road (if not the majority of them). I live in Southern Africa. I can tell you that the exhaust coming out of the tailpipe of a BMW 120d or a 318d doesn’t bother me at all. The engines are much much cleaner burning these days. And if they can pass the 50-state emission standards, they’ll be at least as clean as gasoline engines, reducing exposure to particulates and causing less harm to people with asthma.

  • Dr Obnxs

    In 2007 semi rigs drove over 145 BILLION miles. The number of miles driven by CNG busses in LA is practially ZERO compared to that. For cars, the fleet turn over time is about 15 years, don’t know for big rigs, but anyway, the increase in miles per year and the slow decay constant in change over in the fleet means that CNG vehicles will make close to no difference in the rate of diesel usage.

    We can be as wishful as we want, but none of that changes the numbers between demand for fuels and capacity to deliver them. No matter what nozzle you chose, we’re still screwed.

    FWIW, with all this increas in gas prices, miles driven was only down 2% in May compared to same time a year before. We just biatch and pay…