We know. You’re wondering how we can be so confident about the US finally getting a diesel MINI when MINI USA has either shown ambivalence or pulled plug on the program in the past. Five years ago the US was on the verge of getting an R56 diesel. However due to the global economy meltdown the business case just didn’t make sense. However this time things are different. The UKL platform from the beginning has been designed to accommodate the urea tank required for US diesels making modifications less expensive. Then there’s the increased interest in higher MPG and diesel in the US that are both consumer cost (never mind the currently low fuel prices) and legislation driven.
So what diesel MINI will the US get? We originally reported that the US would be getting a MINI Clubman SD for 2017. While we believe that’s still likely, we believe that a Countryman SD is actually more likely for the 2018 model year. What’s the SD? Simply put it’s a diesel Cooper S drivetrain that produces 168bhp at 4000rpm and 266lb ft lbs at 1500rpm. MPG? That’s where things get really interesting.
The Cooper SD is rated at 70 mpg combined in the UK. In US MPG figures that’s 59 mpg. While the UK testing procedures are a little less stringent, that’s still an incredible number that would do more than just raise eyebrows for the US buying public concerned with efficiency.
What’s it’s like the drive? Autocar recently drove the Cooper SD and came away a little less impressed:
>(The Cooper SD has) a very un-Mini-like driving experience, one that’s a long way from the Cooper S. Not that it’s a bad car, mind. The engine is strong and exceptionally refined, doing its best work on motorway cruises. It’s a nice match for the automatic gearbox, which is slick and unobtrusive.
>Economy in the mid-50mpg range is also easily achievable, making this a very nice little car for covering great distances in, especially when you’re sitting in such a desirable interior.
>The drivetrain makes this Mini feel every bit the baby BMW, but sporty it is not. Yes, the performance is impressive, but the urgency and turn of pace from the Cooper S model is lacking.
>The dynamics also take a hit from having a bigger, heavier engine providing power. The ride and handling balance is still tidy, but the sharpness and poise from the petrol powered-Minis is left behind.
So what does this all mean? The SD may very well be a “S” but doesn’t quite equal the petrol powered “S” we all know. What it does do is blow away any other F56 MINI (and most other small cars) when it comes to MPG figures. What it will do in the heavier four door Clubman and Countryman we don’t know. What we do know is that at this time, MINI has no plans to engineer the US specific version of the SD drivetrain for the smaller F56 and F55.