WHEN small boys show a close interest and admire a car it is usually an indication that what you are driving is something special which is exactly what happened as I started test driving the new Mini Coupe writes Bryan Longworth.
For young car enthusiasts have a knack of picking out cars large and small that have the wow factor which is true of this latest model from the highly successful Mini manufacturer that is part of the BMW empire - even a butcher shouted to me that it was the best looking car he had seen for a long time as I parked outside his shop.
The Mini Coupe is really something special apart from its very distinctive styling for it is the company’s first two seater sports car and it is a car that really makes a lot of sense.
For while other Mini models have four seats the rear seats are rather cramped and not much used and there is not a lot of luggage room in the rear load area.
So the two seater coupe which has plenty of load space through the rather heavy rear hatch - 20 litres more load space than the Mini Clubman - is a car that I am sure will have quite wide appeal if only for this reason.
But the coupe has very distinctive styling at the rear that makes it quite different from other Minis in the range and I am sure this particular feature along with the potent looking twin exhaust pipes is what caught the eye of those young schoolboys and the butcher.
My test car was the Mini Cooper SD Coupe with the 2.0-litre diesel engine costing £20,510 on the road which had a top speed of 134mph, zero to 62mph time of 7.9 seconds and combined fuel consumption of 65.7mpg.
The car was loaded with plenty of optional extras totalling nearly £5000 including the Chili pack costing £1,865 featuring special alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights and on board computer plus the media pack at £1,015.
As soon as I started driving the test car it felt just right with its precision steering and superb handling although the suspension was very much on the firm side and over bad road surfaces there was quite a clatter from the wheels.
Considering the engine was a diesel it provided a really lively performance and fun motoring that is a trademark of all Mini models but this one in particular and the driver can add to the enjoyment of the drive by pressing the Sport button for sportier driving.
A special feature of the Mini Coupe is the rear spoiler which rises automatically at speeds of over 50mph to improve air flow and reduce lift at the rear axle for better aerodynamic balance and road grip and drops again at 37mph - the only problem being that the rear window is small and when the spoiler is raised it further restricts rear vision.
But I learned to live with this situation and overall the Mini Coupe proved to be just the right sort of car to enjoy the Peak District country roads after the winter and provide some real driver enjoyment.
My Verdict: A Mini with the wow factor.
Model: Mini Cooper SD Coupe.
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 134mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 7.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 65.7mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 114g/km.
Price: £20,510 on the road.