Diesel hot hatches have always been a bit of an oddity – one would think that a big, heavy diesel engine would throw off the superb balance and lightweight that are the hallmarks of most front-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks, but the MINI Cooper SD is one diesel hot hatch that deserves the benefit of the doubt after seeing it at the Geneva Auto Show.
While the regular Cooper S isn’t quite a featherweight, the car’s reflexes would have you believe that it weighs as much as an empty coffee cup. While the 2.0L turbo diesel only puts out 143 horsepower, its 225 lb-ft of torque is greater than even a tuned-to-the-gills Cooper S JCW’s output, giving the car plenty of useable power in the lower end of the rev range.
MINI claims a 0-60 sprint of between 8.1 seconds for a Cooper SD to 9.4 seconds for a Countryman SD. Even more astonishing are the fuel economy figures – anywhere from 57.6 mpg to 65 mpg (on the European cycle). To put that in perspective, you can theoretically return Prius-like economy with a small performance trade-off.
Gallery: MINI Cooper SD and Countryman SD