New MINI Engine Caught Testing

From AutoExpress:

“BMW is Working on a swift fix to one of the new MINI's weakest links – it's engine. Our exclusive photographs reveal a Cooper S testing a new motor under it's bonnet power bulge.

All today's petrol MINI's share the Chrysler-design 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which Autocar dubbed “mediocre” in our first 2001 road test, with only average refinement, character and throttle response.

However, the next-generation MINI will ditch the 'Pentagon' engine for a new one being developed in tandem with PSA Peugeot Citroen. This is the first time an engine mule has been spotted on the road.

Autocar sources say the new engine – dubbed 'Prince' – will be available in 1.4 and 1.6 litre capacities with direct injection from 2006, followed later by Valvtronic versions.

They require a taller bonnet to accommodate a set of intermediate arms arranged vertically next to the camshaft, explaining the exaggerated bonnet bulge on this prototype.

An electric motor operates intermediate arms to vary the intake-valve openings, optimizing the engine for performance under full load or economy and emissions under a light throttle.

PSA's Douvrin plant in northern France, which will use modular manufacturing processes to let different engines share common components, will build up to 2500 of the new engines every day – enough for nearly one million a year across the BMW, Peugeot and Citroen groups.”

We've known for a long time now that BMW was partnering with PSA to develop the next generation MINI's engine. What we didn't know was an exact time table and specifics. Can't want to hear more. The article isn't on the web yet but you can read it in this scan from James79 via MINI2: Quick Fix Boosts MINI Power.

  • Frank

    May I remind the “Autocar” journalists, that the 1.6L TRITEC 163HP Supercharged engine was awarded the “Top 10 best” engines in the world for 2003 by Wards Automotive and industry trade publication.

    What is so mediocre about this rock solid engine?? How can an unproven French Peugeot engine be more reliable than the simpler SOHC 1600cc Tritec engine?

    I love the current engine and even in the standard Cooper this powerplant propells this car with gusto.

    I am afraid that the advent of the Peugeot engine will make servicing our trusty and reliable TRITECs more expensive and parts availability more scarce.

  • While I agree with you about the current engine I must admit it isn't the most sophistacated modern powerplant around these days. When you look at what other automakers are able to get our of their small 4 cylinders (Honda alone does a remarkable job with this) it becomes apparent that the tritec isn't really cutting edge.

    And with over a million engines produced annually I think that parts shouldn't be too hard to come by with this new engine. With Valvetronic etc this new 4 cylinder should be able to produce more power per litre.

  • Frank

    True, but as a former owner of several Honda/Acura products equipped with DOHC and VTEC engines, those cars lacked punch in the low end. I had a '95 Acura Integra 5-speed with the 1.8L 16V 142HP DOHC engine and the MINI feels faster from the get go. The Honda engines are engineered to deliver most of their power high up in the RPM powerband, which is great in the race track but barely useful in the street.

    I am a sucker for simplicity in car engines and while the TRITEC might not be the “cream” of small 4 bangers is still a reliable, economical, easy to maintain, durable and reasonably powerful engine. My beef with variable timing technologies is the added complexity and weight added to the engine not to mention increased maintenance and repair costs (Hondas require pricey 7.5K and 15K maintenance intervals).

    MINIs have never been about cutting edge engine technology, just a fun to drive car with “Simple” mechanicals (Well let's not talk about CVTs or E-gas pedals).

    BMW has to cater to the power hungry market and they are doing their part in addressing the “weaknesses” of the DCX engine but I am still skeptical about the reliability of French engines in a country where French automobiles have been a dismal failure to the point of total extinction. Peugeot has not sold a car here since 1992 so I am eager to see how BMW will get thier act together to properly service these PSA powerplants.

  • John

    Is that an engine bulge under your bonnet, or are you just happy to see me?

    😉 sorry, couldn't resist.

  • ceegee

    I drove a citroen for over ten years and it was the most reliable engine I've ever heard of. Easy maintenance, never left me alone even in the hardest winter! I guess american People have huge prejudices against french cars, but they are very good these days!

  • dave

    I also love the simplicity of the current Tritec Mini engine being assembled in Brazil. 1.6 L is plenty of power in the small Mini. Installing a Honda engine would be fantastic, but a Citroen? Tell me it's not so. Well I'm sure it is judging by the expense of retrofitting this bulged hood on the Mini.

  • Remember it is being “co-developed” by BMW as well.

    ceegee – I agree with you. I think Americans have this fear of all things French when it comes to the automotive world. Personally I'm very excited about cars like the Puegoet 206 or the Citroen Xsara (featured in the WRC). I think that the French auto industry has come a long way from the poorly built Puegoets imported into the US in the 80's.

    When I look at my 10 year old 3-series with it's variable valve timing inline six I can't help but feel there is room for improvement in the MINI. I know that BMW prides itself with building high tech, well performing, rock solid engines – it would seem that this is their chance to do something more “BMW” like with the MINI's engine program.

  • Does anyone else think the bulge is damn ugly? I think I'd rather have a slightly less advanced engine and a better looking bonnet to be honest.

    A slight increase in the current line down the bonnet is one thing but this thing looks like some sort of 'missing link' neanderthal Cooper.

  • Cletus

    I wondered when someone was going to comment about that butt-ugly bulbous bubble. I, too, could care less about a change of engines … do it, don't do it, it doesn't matter to me … but for pete's sake don't destroy the look we all love!

  • I'm assuming that the bulge will be much different by the time the engine and the new car is ready for production. Some of the original MCS engine mules from a couple years back had similar looking ridiculous bulges.

  • So does this mean that the MCS is going to be w/o a supercharger in the future? The article said nothing about a supercharged variant, just two different sizes. Also, I have nothing against French cars, but and am quite excited to see a boost in power, but I'm forced to question the increased size/weight that this engine might have. And I've never been a fan of the “modular manufacturing processes to let different engines [cars] share common components” school of design. Let's hope that they don't decide to do that with the MINI like they did with the New Beetle.

  • That's a very good question. Based on this article I'd say that the MCS may not be supercharged in the future. I assume that BMW sees Valvtronic taking it's place.

  • This may not be received well, but y'all sound like a bunch of classic Mini owners. I heard the same 'don't improve the new Mini' whining when BMW announced that theywere going to try new shock valving. And all reports sound like there has been an improvement over what was already good. Quit with this 'no progress' thing, will you?

    I love my S, but I love advances, too.

  • At the risk of going off topic, a lot of the 'whining' about the softer shocks were people who were going to be taking delivery on a car that they didn't test drive, due to the change. But I doubt that there's too many people suprised that the DC/BMW engine was going to go by the wayside when the contract was up, so it's not the change that concerns me, it's what it's going to be changing to.

  • The 1.6L MCS engine won not only WARD's award, but also the prestigious International Engine of the Year Award in 2003 for the category 1.4 to 1.8 L This engine has won many accolades, and calling it one of the new MINI's weakest links does not show the best automotive judgement. I think it is a great engine in both MC and MCS guise. But then the article also calls it Chrysler designed, without refering to the Tritec design as a joint venture. Whaddaya know, or rather,m what do they know?

  • Bob

    I wouldn't buy a new Mini with an engine made in France and I'll bet a lot of people in USA and around Europe feel the same.

  • Markus

    Bob, why in the world wouldn't you buy a MINI with a French engine? The french now make some of the best engines around, period, real engineering marvels. I'd buy one in a flash, but only if it was better than the current MCS engine, which I think is great!!

  • Dj ViP3R

    As far as the reliability of French engines go i cannot comment, I was a little kid the last time they imported cars – or anything really – to the states. I do know that i have been weary of long term reliability of ANYTHING from Chrysler (or DaimerChrysler respectivly) and something tells me that BMW might be getting the same vibe. I wait eagerly for the new French powered MINIs but for the disgusting bonnet.

  • James

    The reason for the bonnet bulge is to accomodate the turbocharger + intercooler. The VVt engine is actually smaller than the turbo one

  • david

    if BMW engineers have chosen a new French engine, they must have reasons, one of them is trust in Peugeot-citroen (aka PSA); in the past PSA provided Honda europe and provides new Mazda 3 diesel Euro model. as for the bad idea of French industry, do you guys know Nissan is the property of Renault nowadays??

  • Just to clear this up – this is a BMW engineered engine that is being shared with PSA.

  • david

    just to clear this up, it’s gonna be made in Douvrin PSA plant, France

  • I like the motor car above and I want to know more about the engie

  • Joe

    Boy am I confused! I am preparing to order a 2006 Mini Cooper (not an S). What engine do you think I will get? I to am a big believer in reliability but I actually hope I get the French engine. I’m still mad at the French but I’m not really sure why. I think that the guy who said that many Americans won’t buy the car with the French engine was refering to the bad press that the French get, not French engineering!

  • The new engines (which will be released in the 2007 MINI starting with the fall of ’06) are engineered by BMW and will be built in the UK. So calling them French isn’t quite correct. PSA is helping BMW with manufacturing and sourcing logistics.

    Hope that helps.

  • Joe

    Good point and one that should be remembered by all! So I would have to wait a year to get the PSA/BMW powerplant. I think that I will go ahead and order my 2006! Thanks

  • Unfortunately (as this article is 2 years old) many of the rumors in the above quoted text have turned out to not be 100% correct. For more recent info take a look at our featured articles in the top right of the page.

  • Joe K

    I wonder if BMW would have dropped the Chrysler engine in 2007 (when the contract with Chrysler is up for renewal) had Daimler not merged with Chrysler. I understand that just the thought of planting engines from Daimler into the BMW Mini is something BMW could not live with. The contract for Chrysler to supply the engines only became a problem for BMW when Daimler came along. BMW do not want to be seen using Daimler engines. And don’t Daimler use “Kompressors” aka superchargers to boost the power in their own engines? It has nothing to do with any trust or faith in PSA. The current Cooper S can be modified to 200 + bhp cheaply and the crank is strong enough to handle more. I’m looking forwards to getting mine and there is no way I am having any reservations with regards to the current engine. I own a 3 Series 2.5 ltr and I love the low rev torque pull I get out of it. When test driving the Cooper S, I was astonished to find that it had the same kind of power delivery. Not as smooth, but good enough for a 4 cylinder. With the stiff suspension of the Cooper S, I doubt anyone will spend much time thinking about how refined the engine is. Vtecs are rubbish until they hit about 5k rpm. When they finally get around to delivering any decent power, the engine is already screaming. How refined is a screaming engine?

  • Damien Azzopardi

    Well guys, you all seemed worried about the new peugeot engines….well i live in europe in a small island in the mediterrian and there are alot of peugoet cars around of all sorts. I have and old 1989 petrol peugeot 405 my self. Its true, maybe between the 90 to let say 97 peugeot was a mess in engines, but today the story is different…today engines are very effeicent and relaible. In the diesel engines with the HDi peugeot is making a real hit here, very good and in petrol is good too. My friends have peugeots 106, 206 and 307 with 1.6 and 1.4 petrol and they tuned them, and revs them and pushes them to the limit and no damage so far, my 1.6 liter is old but i does the job too, thousands of miles and no problems so far, just normal maintance.

    Well it doesnt mean that every engine will be perfect but believe, with a country full of peugeot i can say a word or too. And for the USA people, just to let you know tha peugeot made a very big progress in engines, smooth, effiecient and fun to drive especially with the new turbo engines.

    And if the mini had the peugoet suspension system, it would be much more fun to drive, i have experience with 106, 205, 206, 306, 307, 405, 406, 407, 605 and 607… i have rode all these models and they curve like no other car does.

    I think it will be a good idea of a peugeot engine. And by the way, Ford is also using peugeot HDi engines on some models and there is the new C1, 107 , Aygo which is toyota, citreon and peugoet, which means they got ideas from toyota!!

    What you think?


  • Heh. Quite interesting reading these old posts.