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MINI Celebrates 10 Years of Diesel

MINI Diesel

If there’s one thing offered on MINI’s abroad that’s been coveted by US MINI enthusiasts, it’s diesel power train. With the debut of the F56, many US MINI fans are waiting with bated breath to hear official news of the much-teased Cooper SD power plant making its way to our shores. We haven’t received that confirmation yet, but we do know that MINI USA is trying to make the case. If the numbers line up, we’ll see possibly the Cooper D or Cooper SD become available in the US MINI lineup.

Why care? Many dismiss diesel as an outdated technology only fit for tractor-trailer rigs and hippies. The reality is that diesel, especially in the MINI range, offers two things that MINI fans should care about: fuel-efficiency and torque. In fact, the second most fun I ever had in a MINI was flogging a Clubman SD up the Autobahn between Vienna and Munich — zipping aggressively around cars, watching 100 mph come and go (in Km/h) and still getting about 54 mpg. Big torque on a small car is a great combination. In the Countryman, the SD had much of the needed grunt found in the JCW, and mates especially well with the ALL4 system. It’s these larger MINIs, the diesel makes the most sense. With the expected bumps in efficiency from the new generation of MINI petrol engines, diesel might make its best case in the cars on duty for hauling more than just ass.

Outside the US, it’s been ten years of diesels offered in the MINI lineup. Read on for MINI’s official recap.

Official Release: One man, one engine, and no end of anniversaries: it was 120 years ago that Rudolf Diesel started developing the compression-ignition engine that was soon to be named after him. The very first prototype completed its test run in August of that same year. The first diesel engine factory was founded 115 years go. The engine invented by Diesel was used in ships for the first time 110 years ago, and it has been 90 years since the first diesel-powered truck went on the road. The MINI was first fitted with a diesel engine ten years ago. Each of these anniversaries is reason enough to celebrate the qualities of the diesel engine – and to commemorate its inventor, who died exactly 100 years ago.

Maximum efficiency was the driving force that inspired Rudolf Diesel to develop his novel engine. His design was based on heating the air in the combustion chamber by means of compression to such an extent that the fuel around it would ignite and release large amounts of energy. This is why the diesel engine has such a high level of efficiency. The fact that this principle also generates hallmark MINI driving fun was first demonstrated in the summer of 2003, when the MINI One D was presented as the first diesel model of the premium British small car brand. Its 1.4-litre all-aluminium turbodiesel with common rail direct injection had an output of 55 kW/75 bhp. It combined the characteristic MINI go-kart feeling with an average fuel consumption on the EU test cycle of 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

But this was just the beginning of the diesel engine’s career in the MINI. Two years later the MINI One D was upgraded to 65 kW/88 bhp, and though its performance figures increased, fuel consumption remained constant. 2007 saw the launch of the next stage of development: the Geneva Motor Show was the setting for the world premiere of the MINI Cooper D. In this model, the new 1.6-litre turbodiesel now delivered 80 kW/110 bhp. The car’s fuel consumption was reduced yet again in spite of a 25 per cent increase in power output, while 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres once again put MINI ahead of the competition in terms of efficiency.

Thanks to MINIMALISM, however, this was still not the last word. The current MINI models with diesel engines are fitted with further refined injection technology, turbochargers with variable turbine geometry, auto start/stop function, shift point display, brake energy regeneration, on-demand operation of ancillary units, electromechanical steering and cutting-edge exhaust gas purification technology. The result: 120 years after Rudolf Diesel made his pioneering invention, the engine of the MINI Cooper D provides an impressive peak output of 82 kW/112 bhp, a maximum torque of 270 Newton metres at 1,750 rpm , a fuel consumption on the EU test cycle of 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometre.

MINI Diesel

As MINI diesel technology was consistently refined, the variety of engines which functioned according to this principle increased. There are now three diesel engines available to choose from for the MINI. Their common design features reflect the outstanding development expertise of the BMW Group in the field of engine technology. An aluminium crankcase, turbocharger with variable turbine geometry, common rail direct injection with solenoid-valve injectors and a powerful engine control system geared towards each specific model guarantee a level of efficiency which impressively confirms Rudolf Diesel’s vision of an “ideal thermal machine”.

The latest generation of the MINI One D is powered by a 1.6-litre engine which delivers 66 kW/90 bhp and a maximum torque of 215 Newton metres that goes on stream at 1,750 rpm. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are the same as those of the 82 kW/112 bhp MINI Cooper D. The entry-level diesel engine is also available in the models MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman, transferring its power via a 6-speed manual transmission in each case. For the MINI Cooper D there is also the option of a 6-speed automatic transmission which is combined with a 2.0-litre version of the 4-cylinder engine in each model version. The choice between the two variants applies to the MINI, MINI Clubman, MINI Convertible, MINI Countryman and MINI Paceman.

MINI Diesel

The latest and most powerful way to experience the kind of pulling power and efficiency so typical of a diesel engine is provided by the MINI Cooper SD. Also operating with a capacity of 2.0 litres, this 4-cylinder power unit generates a peak output of 105 kW/143 bhp and provides a maximum torque of 305 Newton metres between 1,750 and 2,700 rpm. And this engine offers exemplary economy as well as supreme power delivery. The MINI Cooper SD sprints from zero to 100 km/h in just 8.1 seconds, achieving a top speed of 215 km/h. Its average fuel consumption on the EU test cycle is 4.3 litres to 100 kilometres, with CO2 emissions of 114 grams per kilometre.

The most powerful diesel in the MINI engine portfolio is available for all seven models – the MINI, MINI Clubman, MINI Convertible, MINI Coupé, MINI Roadster, MINI Countryman and MINI Paceman. In each model it is combined as standard with a 6-speed manual transmission or else an optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Its power can also be optionally transmitted to all four wheels by means of the all-wheel drive system ALL4 in the MINI Cooper SD Countryman and the MINI Cooper SD Paceman.

As the range of variants has expanded, so the popularity of the diesel engine in MINI models has continuously increased. Despite the fact that the market for this engine type is largely focused within Europe, nearly one in four MINIs supplied to customers in 2012 was fitted with a diesel.

Source: MINI

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Written By: Nathaniel Salzman

  • Tim

    Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get into diesels, America. The tech surrounding modern diesel engines is expensive to maintain and prohibitively so to replace. High pressure fuel systems, (2000 bar), particulate filters, EGR valves, AdBlue, high speed turbos with ultra fine tolerances, (sharing the lube oil with the engine), butterfly valves in the inlet that can disintegrate and get sucked into the valves, etc. etc. Plus, the heavier lump makes the Mini nose heavy, and the narrow power band can be frustrating.

    • Shane

      The technology and fuel economy are very enticing for a small car. It hurts to see BMW advertise the relatively unimpressive fuel economy numbers on their diesel powered sedans. I remember talking to Bosch at one point about the MINI Cooper D was averaging well over 65MPG! I have a career in the diesel engine industry so can back you up on your point regarding cost. There is so much tech that if anything fails, the amount of time to access the part is extremely high compared to petrol and the parts cost is even higher. It must be said that the reduced emissions is extremely impressive. Black smoke is becoming a thing of the past. Clean diesel HAS been realized. That is the one good thing about all the EPA shenanigans. I thought about getting a diesel daily driver for a while, but at this point with what the EPA requires for road going diesels, you’re better off with petrol if you’re a middle-class guy like me and like to work on your own car for cheap.

    • EHans

      My wife has a 2013 Jetta TDi and we both love it! VW doesn’t use the Blue stuff that MB does. Not sure if Mini and BMW use it. I’d get a SD in a heartbeat over the gasser if Mini offered it in the US.

  • glangford

    I always said my next car would be diesel and it is. I ditched the R56 cooper for a BMW 328d. The 2.0 turbo diesel in it is very nice. If mini can bring the N47 engine over in the Countryman that would be my next car (or my wifes). The 328d pairs very nicely with the ZF 8 speed tranny, and I can confirm it will easliy do better than the rated 45 mpg on the highway. On a recent trip, my OBC showed 51.4 mpg for a 7 hour interstate trip. My wife wants a small SUV, and I like the diesel, so Mini, it’s a race who gets to this shore first, you or the Tiguan TDI?

    • Diezel

      I think VW won… Q5 TDI (a.k.a. The Audi Tiguan TDI) :) Tried to convince my sister to buy it when she went car shopping.

      • Diezel

        OOps… got confused.. Q5 = Tuereg.. Q3 = TIguan..

      • glangford

        The VW tiguan might beat the Audi Q3, they both have some regulatory hurdles to iron out. Both will probably beat Mini here though. What remains to be seen is will BMW drop the N47 in the X1, like Europe or put it in the new 2016 X1?

  • Alexandre

    My first MINI was a One D and it still runs strong after 10 years. It now serves my siblings who just got their driver’s license and I get the feeling it will keep running for a long time. If I remember correctly the engine in it actually comes from Toyota. I’d be super excited to have it in the next Countryman. Similar to the ///MD versions at BMW, a JCW D would be just perfect.

  • b-

    Only 15 more years until I can have an R52 diesel!

  • lawrothegreat

    Diesel torque can feel great, but the narrow torque band can be frustrating if it is mated to a manual transmission. You spend as much time changing gear as you do revelling in the torque. A well sorted diesel matted to a decent auto can be a deceptively quick beast however. I’ve always thought the SD is underpowered though. The F56 Cooper 1.5 is quicker to 60mph than the R56 Cooper SD. Of course diesel power is about flexibility not performance tests. It’s interesting to note that the F56 Cooper S offers the same level of torque as the SD but over a much wider band. The next generation SD (1.5-3 or 2.0-4) needs to offer more torque and more power to stay in the game, IMHO.


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1st Gen MINI
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3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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