The new technology will debut in the 2014 Cooper but will eventually appear in the rest of the MINI lineup including in a new five-door Cooper as well as the replacements for existing variants. Each of these models will be based off a new front-wheel-drive platform that MINI’s parent BMW will use for its own range of entry-level hatchbacks due in the coming years.
Certain engines, transmission options and chassis components will be common to all these models. One big-ticket item will be a new three-cylinder engine (which we recently sampled). This three-cylinder engine is a modular design that will come in both gasoline and diesel flavors. Versions will eventually go into some 1.5 million BMW and MINI models annually and feature BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology.
TwinPower Turbo technology features a twin-scroll turbocharging system, direct fuel injection and solenoid injectors, the latter being the latest innovation for BMW’s VALVETRONIC variable valve control system. The resulting effect is a small engine--and small engine fuel economy--but with big engine performance.
Conventional four-cylinder engines, sharing the three-cylinder’s modular design, will also be available to buyers of the new MINI range.
MINI’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine
At launch, the 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine will deliver approximately 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque (169 pound-feet with overboost function), while the 2.0-liter four-cylinder will offer 189 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque (221 pound-feet with overboost). Peak torque in the engines will be delivered at just 1,250 revs and they’ll keep spinning until a 6,500-rpm cutoff.
Along with new engines, MINI’s third-generation range will also benefit from new manual and automatic transmissions. The manual gearboxes will feature a gear sensor that adapts the engine speed when shifting gears. This permits fast and sporty shifting with always the right engine speed available during gear shifts. The automatic will be available with fuel-saving engine stop-start technology and for cars equipped with a navigation system, the auto ‘box will adapt the gear selection to the current route. This way, the suitable gear is selected before reaching junctions or before cornering--just like in the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
In the chassis department, MINI will introduce electrically adjustable dampers for the first time. Two levels of damper adjustment will be offered: comfort and sport. The cars will maintain MINI's existing single-link spring strut axle design at the front and multi-link setup at the rear, but will come with new forged alloys that are aerodynamically optimized to help direct cool air to the brakes as well as reduce drag. Speed-dependent electronic power steering will feature across the range and allows for a parking assist function. The setup also features a torque steer compensation function.
Weight saving has been achieved through the use of aluminum and high tensile steels in much of the chassis construction. MINI says the use of more advanced materials has allowed it to reduce vehicle weight while simultaneously improving rigidity. Not only does this mean improved safety in the event of a crash but it should also mean that MINI’s unmistakable go-kart feeling is maintained for its new range of hatchbacks.
Stay tuned for the full reveal of the 2014 MINI Cooper in just over two weeks.