MF Exclusive: MINI’s Next Highly Efficient Cooper Revealed

 Over the years many within the American market (MINI’s largest) have lamented the fact that MINI doesn’t offer the incredibly frugal MINI Cooper D. With federalization and CO2 standards where they are, the nails have been placed in the coffin when it comes to a MINI D on US soil. However MINI intends to bring a petrol powerplant to market (with the US included) with shocking efficiency similar to the current Cooper D.

While the three cylinder family of engines we’ve previously reported on will spawn several highly efficient variants (1.3 and 1.5 liters in capacity) today we’re going to focus on the one found in the next Cooper. First MINI will not downgrade output in any of its models. That means we should expect approximately the same power for the Cooper (120hp) and Cooper S (180hp). But with only three cylinders, direct injection and a highly efficient turbo we expect the 120 hp Cooper to achieve just under 50 mpg on the highway in US form.

Beyond MPG we also expect weight and CO2 emissions to be down from their current levels. What the final car will weigh is still anyone’s guess but we’d guess similar if not lower figures than the current car.

But MINI’s new found performance and efficiency doesn’t end there. Look for more information on the rest of the range (including the next Cooper S) in the coming weeks and months.  

  • glangford

    Good news on retaining 120 hp on the Cooper. 50 mpg seems a stretch without real weight reductions. The current 120 hp engine is already a very effecient. 50 mpg would seem to be squeezing blood out of a turnip. However, I do get much better mpg out of my R56 cooper than the stated EPA estimates on the highway, so maybe possible, just not with EPA estimates. Reducing displacement 0.1 liters even with 3 cylinders won’t buy 12 mpg highway (38 current estimate for R56) to get you to 50.

    I’d prefer to see some real improvement in city driving. Like how about bringing the auto start/stop feature as well as the euro version alternator capability to get some real improvement around town.

  • jbkONE

    Euro version Alternator? do tell.

    Isn’t the direct injection partly to blame for people’s reported sludge problems?

  • JonPD

    Great move for sure, a 50 mpg Cooper is likely to be a cannon shot across the bow of many Prius drivers lol. Not to surprised by the gain in efficiency since BMW has quite a bit of skill engineering more efficiency out of there engines and going to a 3 cylinder motor gives them a nice chuck of this.

    For me personally 4 cylinders is my personal limit on a car but from what has been presented on Motoringfile previously at least sounds like JCW is sticking with them.

  • glangford

    The euro version of the alternator for mini uses an on demand alternator that takes it self off line (w/ a clutch ?) when not required helping to increase effieciency. It was introduced with the auto start/stop feature for Minis bound for Europe.

  • John DaCrema

    this all sounds promising. I would like to see the Euro alternator, the start stop for increased effieciency. I would like to see some torque numbers. Diesel and electric motors make nice daily drivers because there is good push with little energy, gas motors get that push with larger motors or higher RPM. Many people did not like the early Honda S2000 as a daily driver because there was not much grunt in the low rpm range that is used in day to day driving.

  • Mark

    Didn’t they report that the reason for not bringing the start/stop technology to the U.S. market was because it wouldn’t change the MPG? It helps with something (CO2 output maybe??), but it wouldn’t make much of a difference for the way we calculate things. Somebody will correct me I’m sure.

  • MINIme

    VW is about to put some serious pressure on MINI in the U.S. with the Polo. I am hoping for the 1.2 TD BlueMotion powerplant!

  • K

    The alternator is the same, and all the other MINIMALISM components (water pump, oil pump, etc) are also in place in the US. The only difference is that the IBS (Intelligent Battery Sensor) does not cut off the alternator (though I have yet to find any conclusive info as to whether that is indeed the case in the US, or if it is just “covered up” due to US laws regarding the description. In Europe it is called “Brake Energy Regeneration” which is of course not exactly true…)

    Can anyone from the US confirm whether they have option number S1CDA (or 1CD) on their factory sheet or dealer order form?

    Anyway, back on-topic: I think this is a great step for MINI and engine technology in general. I personally would consider one.

    Also, Gabe, you say “With ….. CO2 standards where they are…” Can someone explain what US standard says that 104g/km is unacceptable? Or have I misunderstood something?


  • CraigE

    It is quite possible that the 3rd gen Cooper will have the efficiency that they expect. The engine will be lighter with fewer moving parts. So it will have a significant reduction in internal friction losses. Apparently the 3red gen MINI will be a clean sheet design. So this opens up an opportunity to significantly reduce weight. An increase of 10 MPG is not impossible, just difficult.

  • JonPD

    That’s correct Mark

    What I think is going to be interesting is if the next generation Mini D is developed on a three cylinder format.

    I agree MINIme that the US bound Polo could have a impact on the brand here. Many small cars coming to the states that are taking a bite out of MINI sales. Still the saddest part of watching the European market is the lack of MINI being in anybodies hot hatch list for quite a while. Think this car could help set them up to compete for efficiency very well but I am really hoping to see them doing something with the performance side of the brand.

  • JJC

    What models and year are these expected?

  • SFRedMCc

    Does anyone know the actual definition for “city driving”?

    I never get better than 18 mpg when driving mostly within the city limits of San Francisco with an occasional freeway trip to the suburbs. And Sport mode only drops it about 1 mpg. I get around 32 mpg on trips with an average speed of over 75 mph. My automatic Clubman is rated 26 mpg for city driving and 34 for highway.

    My guess is San Francisco is rather unique due all the hills and a majority of the intersections are 4-way stops. Also you can rarely drive over 40 mph (legally) on most city streets.

  • GaryD

    In the Chicago area, driving about 22 miles each way, each day (combination of 50mph and stop lights most of the way) my 09 Clubman is reporting 34mpg lifetime and I’ve only had it since December 30th 09 so it has been (until recently) mostly colder weather driving.

    I don’t race all over but I am a bit heavy on the gas. Overall I would say I’m getting better than average. It’s a drop from my Civic Hybrid I used to have (50mpg routinely) but the relatively small hit was more than made up for in driving fun.

  • Don Hopings

    “Does anyone know the actual definition for “city driving”?”

    The EPA has what used to be called the Urban Driving Cycle. It specifies acceleration rates, speeds, time spent at a given speed, etc. The test is always the same, so you can compare across different models, different manufacturers, etc. There was a change in the methodology a few years ago. It seemed the the current results don’t match the mileage that cars really get as well as the previous version of the Driving Cycle.

    My former vehicle was a 1994 Isuzu Trooper that I bought new. It ran right on the EPA ratings of 15/19 (no combined). No, with my 2009 JCW Clubman, living in the same place, going to the same places, etc. my mileage is usually around 24mpg. The 2010 model is rated at 33/25/28 (I think the 2009 carried the same ratings). Since my driving is usually 80% to 90% surface streets I should be closer to the 28 figure.

  • Greg W

    How was it that said “there’s no substitute for horsepower”? Did that mean more cylinders are better? As with Japan Motorcycles revving to 14000rpm, does a low-revving Harley better the performance? Daihatsu Charade, a small jap mini-car had three cylinders – did it last? Call me old fashioned but a 4 cylinder 848cc motor fitted to an old Mini suited me fine.

  • dc11

    the saying is “theres no replacement for displacement”

  • rkw
    The alternator is the same, and all the other MINIMALISM components (water pump, oil pump, etc) are also in place in the US.

    The starter motor is different. Also, start/stop is only for manual transmissions. Most of MINIUSA sales are now auto transmissions, so the feature would have only a small impact in the US.

  • Barry

    Make my three banger a two stroke!

  • K

    [The starter motor is different. Also, start/stop is only for manual transmissions. Most of MINIUSA sales are now auto transmissions, so the feature would have only a small impact in the US.]

    OK yes, but the starter is not a MINIMALISM component per se. It is a heavy-duty version designed to take more use, but does not in any way contribute to lower consumption or emissions.

    @Glangford: the alternator does have a clutch – on the US version too – but this only comes into play at high revs to avoid taking too much power from the engine. Technically it’s not a MINIMALISM component, but could be considered as such.

  • slap

    “But with only three cylinders, direct injection and a highly efficient turbo we expect the 120 hp Cooper to achieve just under 50 mpg on the highway in US form.”

    Sounds like the regular Cooper will be turbo, too. Now to go from 37mpg to 50 mpg highway will require reductions in aerodynamic drag and weight loss along with the more efficient engine. The windshield will probably be raked like the upcoming roadster, and I’ll guess at least a 300 lb drop in car weight. Maybe they will use flaps that will cover parts of the lower grill opening at higher speeds, and have an aerodynamically cleaner underbody. The R50/R53 change to the R56 is small compared with what is coming.

  • Gabe

    Be clear this article is about the Cooper and not the Cooper S or One.

  • Matt Richter

    I think the story is a bit mistaken. CO2 standards favor diesel. It’s the particles and NOx emissions that don’t.

    Also, as you get to highway driving, the biggest difference between the current hybrids and any other car for gas mileage is aerodynamics and rolling friction of the tires, as they are the dominant energy waster at freeway speeds and the hybrids are being driven by thier IC engines. The hybrid “wins” efficiency at low speed start/stop driving because then it can use the electrical drive, and regenerative braking. BTW, regenerative braking doesn’t use the brakes. It uses the electric motor as a generator, charging the battery and providing drag to slow the car.

    Light hybrids (like the Saturn View) used a special Alternator/starter that did this, as it didn’t have a true hybrid drivetrain.


  • Paul

    Sounds good for those in the States, but I’m going to keep with my Supercharged BIG block for as long as I can.

  • Don

    50 mpg sounds doable to me. We have gotten as good as 44 mpg in our 2005 Cabrio (R52) averaging 60 mph on the highway on a trip of 300 miles.

  • Timothy Groves

    Having just come back from the MINI factory tour, I heard/saw a few interesting things: 1 The diesel will never ever come to the US 2 There is a complete bodyshop line ready for a new project…maybe coupe/roadster 3 The tour is really cool, well worth doing, will try and write a review and see if MF will post it