They may look the same, and their names may sound similar, but Europeans know that there is quite a big difference in price and performance between a MINI ONE and a MINI Cooper. Nevertheless, for many city dwellers, the MINI ONE has proven to be a satisfying decaffeinated version of the MINI that we know and love here in America. Now an even more economical model called the MINI First, along with a diesel version of the MINI ONE are given the task of attempting to restart lagging European MINI sales.
MINIs are not particularly cheap considering their limited size and (especially with the non-Cooper versions) limited power. With an eye towards luring more customers unable to pony up the prerequisite cash for the most exciting versions, BMW is offering a MINI First model which retains the compact cars good looks and not much else. With a cost of under 11,000 pounds, the Mini First looks almost the same as the Mini ONE but uses a 1.4 liter engine with only 74 horsepower instead of the already modest powerplant out of the ONE. This engine swap along with an absence of much in the way of interior amenities helps keep the total cost of the car to a minimum.
BMWs second area meant to attract buyers involves selling the MINI ONE D for around 12,000 pounds beginning next month. The turbocharged common rail injected 1.6-liter powerplant for this new option is adopted from the already available Cooper D, though as a detuned version that makes only 90 horsepower as compared to 108. The upside is mileage of around 60 mpg, at the cost of having to endure an endless wait time of 11 seconds to get it up to 60 mph. Being a diesel, the MINI ONE D develop its power from as low down as 1,750 rpm. Its turbocharger comes with variable turbine geometry, which optimizes power development through the entire engine speed range. Along with a diesel particulate filter and numerous efficiency-enhancing measures to curb consumption and emissions, the MINI One D utilizes brake energy regeneration for the on-board power supply while the car is braking and coasting and an auto start stop function, which switches off the engine when stopped at traffic lights.
Mated to this economical diesel is a notchy and precise six-speed manual transmission that helps detract from the dirth of acceleration. In fact, despite the differences on paper in horsepower between MINI models, driving the D maintains a high degree of the fun factor that is an integral part of the brand’s character. Most important to this is the cars handling attributes that are the result of a McPherson spring-strut front axle construction, multi-link rear suspension and Electrical Power Steering system. The later helps the efficiency of the car by only engaging its electric motor when steering assistance is required. Other than its chrome and black grille, the standard equipment of the new entry-level diesel MINI is otherwise identical to that of the regular gas version.
Of course, like all MINIs, a seemingly inexhaustible selection of optional extras and accessories are available to personalize these cars to owner specifications.