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How to spec your Mini Coupe

  • Whats the ideal Mini Coupe?
  • Engines and options explained
  • How much should you pay?
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The Mini Coupe has bags of style and is great fun, but there are several engines, trims and countless options available. You could easily spend far more than is necessary. So, if you're thinking of buying, let us save you some cash with our guide to getting the best Mini for your money.

Which engine?
There are three 1.6-litre petrols available; the Cooper with 120bhp, the Cooper S with 181bhp and the John Cooper Works (JCW) with a feisty 208bhp. The Cooper SD completes the range with a 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel.

So far, weve driven the SD and the JCW versions, and the latter is definitely our favourite. Its not cheap at 23,795, but the engine sounds great and gives blistering performance.

The diesel engine isnt as strong as you expect, so the SD feels disappointingly lacklustre. The steering isnt as good as the JCWs, either, and that makes the SDs handling a lot clumsier. The diesel costs 3285 less than the JCW, and its much cheaper to run, but its nowhere near as fun.

We haven't driven the Cooper and Cooper S yet, but we reckon that one of these could well be the pick of the range. Both of the engines are sensational in other Minis, and theres no reason to assume they wont be in the Coupe. Also, both will be a fair bit cheaper than the versions weve already driven. The Cooper S costs 19,775, 735 less than the diesel, while the Cooper looks like even more of a bargain at 16,640.

Which trim?
Mini has saved you the bother of having to choose between trims, because each version is distinguished by pretty much its engine alone.

The are a few differences between the versions, though; the Cooper comes with alloys, air-con, DAB radio, rear parking sensors, an alarm, four airbags and stability control, while Cooper S and SD versions add sports seats and cruise control. The JCW gets a bodykit, and not much more.

As with all Minis, though, the Coupe comes with a seemingly endless choice of optional extras to personalise your car. Theres some impressive luxury equipment on offer, too.

Which options should I add?
Metallic paint: its all about the style, so you might as well spend 340 on a funky colour.

Bluetooth: its not cheap at 295, but its still well worth adding this important safety feature.

Automatic air-conditioning: upgrading you air-con to full climate control costs just 235 - thats pretty reasonable.

Automatic lights and wipers: make your life easier and safer for a mere 90.

CHILI Pack: most Mini buyers add this, because it provides lots of extras for a reasonable price, and helps protect your cars resale value. Among other things, it provides part-leather upholstery, automatic air-conditioning, Bluetooth, front foglamps, a multifunction steering wheel, sports seats and a storage pack. Itll cost 1845 on the Cooper, 1865 on the Cooper S and SD (but it also includes xenon headlamps) and 1505 on the JCW.

TLC Servicing Pack: if you specify nothing else, make sure you tick this box. TLC covers all your major servicing for five years/50,000miles in return for a one-off, inflation-proof payment of just 249 which is great value. Its fully transferrable, too, which will boost your resale values even more.

Which options should I avoid?
Big wheels: we know from past experience that the bigger the wheels on your Mini, the worse the ride and handling is. There are lots of optional alloys available, but resist the urge to enlarge and stick with your standard rims.

Six-speed automatic gearbox: youll pay 1145 (1085 on the Cooper, not available on the JCW) just to make your car less enjoyable. Youll find it more difficult to sell an auto, too.

Sports suspension: itll ruin the ride and it wont add much to the already sweet handling. We say, save yourself 150.

Front centre armrest: it costs 120 for an armrest! How tired can your arm be?

How much should I pay?
Mini dealers are notorious for denying discounts. Sadly, that is unlikely to change with the Coupe especially when its so new.

You wont do much better if you buy from an online broker, either. That means youll probably pay the full list price, but console yourself with the knowledge that youll get a sizeable slice of your money back when you sell it on.

Read the full What Car? Mini Coupe review