MINI’s Next Generation (Part 2): Fewer Cylinders & More Power

The world is changing. Cars are getting bigger batteries while efficiency standards are on the rise worldwide. Through it all BMW has decided to become not only the maker of performance oriented cars but efficient ones as well. Core to that plan is the MINI brand and the future powerplants destined for its next generation cars.

As we mentioned in Part 1 in this series last week, MINI will be launching a new generation of its core product to replace the R56 hatchback in late 2012. At the heart of this new generation of MINIs will be a new range of powerplants that will create a new benchmark for not only performance but also efficiency.

The first generation new MINI was designed and even partially engineered before an engine was even identified let alone developed for the car. Ultimately the R5X series of models made due with a Chrysler designed (and Brazilian built) iron block four cylinder that was inefficient (in modern terms) but surprisingly full of character that more than suited the car. The R56 on the other hand was given a BMW designed four cylinder that was shared with several Citroen and Puegoet models. For 2012 BMW will be giving the next generation MINI an entirely new range of engines designed and developed once again in house at BMW.

MINI

BMW is currently developing a range of highly efficient and surprisingly powerful 3 cylinder petrol turbocharged engines designed to motivate everything from the next generation MINI to BMW’s upcoming iSetta sub-brand to more than a few next generation 1 and 3 series models. And yes, for the MINI that means that some (if not all) models will eventually be moving to three cylinders as opposed to four and down at least .2 liters in capacity.

However before you get the pitchforks out, MINI has no intentions in allowing performance to be degraded by these new engines. In fact sources are telling us that horsepower and torque ratings will be up across the board despite dropping a cylinder. But that’s not all that will improve with these new powerplants. Weight will be down and efficiency improved (dramatically in some cases) on every model.

Based on information our sister site BimmerFile has obtained we expect MINI to move to a 1.35L engine range (likely labelled 1.4L) that will start with a sub 100 bhp output and go above and beyond the current MCS output of 175 bhp.

MINI

Specifically we’ve heard three configurations mentioned for use within BMW products:

  • 122 hp/190Nm (140 ft lbs)
  • 150 hp/220Nm (162 ft lbs)
  • 180 hp/260Nm (192 ft lbs)

So weight is down, power and efficiency are up. But how does it sound? We asked that question of a source who’s heard the new MCS engine and got a surprising answer. You’d assume that dropping a cylinder isn’t a great thing when it comes to that low growl we all know on the current generation of MINIs. However BMW engineers are keen on this as well and have designed the new engine and exhaust in a way to produce a distinctive growl that (if sources are to be believed) sounds better than any turbocharged MINI yet.

Transmissions.

Motivating these engines as standard will be the familiar six speed getrag manual transmission. Yes MINI will continue to offer manual transmissions for the foreseeable future on all products. There have been rumors of a dual clutch gearbox replacing the current automatic transmission in some models but costs will likely be pose a big hurdle to overcome. Unlike VW (which can spread development costs across a half dozen brands and millions of cars) MINI is finding it difficult to make the math work in their favor. However we do expect to see at least one higher-end model with a dual clutch transmission over the next few years.

The extended range.

The Coupe, Roadster, Convertible and Countryman will carry on with the current generation of four cylinder engines until each product’s life-cycle ends naturally. At that point we expect MINI to introduce a new range of four cylinder power-plants (developed in conjunction with PSA) that will likely power the higher power applications (read Countryman and JCW models) for years to come.

More power. Less weight. More efficiency. Less CO2. More growl. Sounds perfect to us. Look for the 3rd generation MINI to debut sometime in late 2012 as a 2013 model. With the new range of engines.