The MINI Cooper S name first graced the classic Mini back in 1963 and during the ensuing half century it has represented the ultimate performance Mini, having won the Monte Carlo rally three times plus countless other races and rallies around the globe. Now for the first time there’s a diesel version too – though not as fire-breathing as the petrol Cooper S, the SD’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel four produces 143 bhp at 4,000 rpm, and an almighty torque figure of 305 Nm (225 lb-ft) from 1,750 to 2,700 rpm endowing it with rapid acceleration all the way to its top speed of 215 km/h (134 mph). It’s the ecologically balanced nature of the pocket rocket which appeals most though, as despite this performance, it’ll return EU test cycle figures of 4.3 litres per 100 kilometres (65.7 mpg imp) with CO2 emissions of 114 grams per kilometre. The Cooper SD will debut in Geneva in March and hit showrooms in Q2.

The new 2.0-litre diesel fits the same template as the 1.6-litre units fitted in the MINI One D and MINI Cooper D. Its all-aluminium crankcase helps to keep the weight of the engine as low as possible, while the turbocharger with variable intake geometry develops the right level of power at all engine speeds. The engine in the MINI Cooper SD has a model-specific and extremely powerful turbocharger controlled by the engine management system, while common-rail direct injection with solenoid-valve injectors positioned centrally in the cylinder head ensure that the fuel is fed in extremely precisely and efficiently. The injection system works with maximum pressure of 1,600 bar and ensures optimum mixture preparation in the combustion chamber.

The new MINI Cooper SD is also fitted as standard with an extensive range of MINIMALISM technology. In addition to the engine’s efficiency, features such as Brake Energy Regeneration, the Auto Start/Stop function, Shift Point Display, Electric Power Steering and the need-based operation of ancillary components help to produce outstanding fuel economy for this output class.

To ensure that its emissions are as clean as possible, the MINI Cooper SD is fitted with a diesel particulate filter and an oxidation catalytic converter. No extra injections of fuel are required to clean the particulate filter. And, as with all current MINI models, the new diesel variants meet the EU5 exhaust emissions standard. Comfort levels on the move, meanwhile, are aided by the four-cylinder engine’s low vibrations and harmonious acoustic properties; here, the particularly sonorous soundtrack of the MINI Cooper SD unit when pushing on through higher revs lifts it above its two diesel stablemates.

The new diesel powerplant come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox with short travel gear lever and what Mini claims is an impressively precise action, with ratios tuned carefully to the engine’s performance characteristics to enable powerful and silky smooth acceleration. A six-speed automatic gearbox will also be available from launch as an option. Its exceptionally short shift times and direct “target gear” finding capability on downshifts also allow the automatic to enhance the sporting character of the MINI Cooper SD.

The MINI Cooper SD also uses model-specific design features to show off its sporting credentials. The most powerful diesel model in the range stands out – like the flagship petrol model, the MINI Cooper S – with its extra-large air intake in the front apron and an air scoop on the bonnet. Like the MINI Cooper S, it also displays its model identity in its side indicator surrounds (in its case with “SD” lettering) and has twin tailpipes positioned in the centre of the rear apron.