Next Generation MINI Timeline & Details Revealed

As those who listened to yesterday’s MF podcast yesterday found out, BMW doesn’t intent on releasing the 3rd generation MINI until well into 2013. Unlike the R50 and R53, BMW is planning on producing the R56 for a full seven year cycle typical to BMW cars. Given that the R56 was released in late 2006 that would mean a 2013 launch for the next generation MINI, code named the F56.

However what’s perhaps most alarming to MINI enthusiasts is what will come first.

As we’ve reported, BMW plans to co-develop the next generation of the MINI hardtop with a front wheel drive BMW built on the same chassis platform and using the same engines. It’s this BMW, marketed as a 1 Series, that will debut first. Underpinning it will be the next generation MINI’s platform and 1.5L three cylinder engine first.

Because of this BMW is pushing the F56 debut back to fall of 2013 to debut the new 1 Series BMW with the full marketing power of BMW group earlier in the year. Once launched, BMW will focus on MINI and the F56.

So is MINI and the F56 getting the shaft? We’ve talked to the engineers, the designers and the strategists behind the next generation MINI and we get the feeling that that’s not the case at all. In fact, the platform sharing with BMW only means good things for MINI. Better technology, more group support and a healthier financial future for MINI going forward.

However, the more pressing question in the minds of most MINI fans is probably this: is there enough difference between the new BMW 1 Series and the F56? Do the cars share so much that the soul of MINI is lost in the cost savings of sharing platforms with the Bimmer? Is the new MINI just a badge change? No! We’ve spoken with sources inside MINI and BMW who’ve seen both new designs — the MINI and the BMW. They’ve been in the room with both of the prototypes. The takeaway? You’d never guess the same chassis platform was underpinning both cars. The MINI is still a MINI — definitely a descendant of the cars that came before it, but make no mistake, it’s a significant evolution. In fact, our sources are telling us that the F56 will be the most aggressively different new MINI yet. The F56 is one of the last MINIs overseen by former MINI design head Gert Hildebrand, and is set to move the MINI design language dramatically forward both inside and out. “Modern” is what it’s being called by those who’ve seen it, with a more aggressive look and feel promised.

But perhaps more important to MINI fans is how the new car will drive and feel on the road. The steering will be an improved version of the electric system currently on the R56, and will be mated to a similar suspension set-up. However, the power plant is where the most exciting new tech is found. The 1.5l three cylinder will likely be a sequential turbo set-up with 120+ and 180+ hp for both the Cooper and the Cooper S. The Cooper should see above 45 mpg on the highway and the Cooper S around 40 – and that’s US gallons. What’s really interesting about the 1.5L is that it too is built on a modular platform designed to scale as a two, three and four cylinder family. That means that MINI could have an even more power for JCW or Countryman duty in the form of a 2.0L four cylinder powerplant.

After 2013 and the launch of the new platform, things move rapidly. MINI will be quickly introducing the next generation Clubman, Convertible and Countryman with new engines, in that order. By 2017 we expect MINI’s entire line-up to be switched over to new platforms.

So the future may be a few years off but it’s looks more interesting than ever.

Note: First image is a sketch of the Rocketman concept vehicle which has been rumored to point towards the 3rd generation MINI.

  • Ulrich Diederich

    Sorry, I am confused again. The new 1-series just came out in Europe and it’s RWD. How can they debut another 1-series in 2013 that is FWD?

    • It’s a different 1 Series and will start the 1 Series transitioning to a FWD architecture. The two door 1 Series will move to the 2 Series moniker.

      • Ulrich Diederich

        I see. Looks like BMW will start running out of numbers soon, with a 4-series coming as well.

    • tec

      In fact it’s the so called BMW city or 0-series that will share the UKL platform with the F56 Mini

  • Sounds like exciting times ahead, and the timing works with the lease expiry of my current Countryman… 🙂


  • Eric

    So if the new engine is modular and can be scaled to four cylinders, then will the current Prince engine be completely phased out? I thought I had read here that it would stay in the line-up, but with the new BMW engine 3 cylinder turbo engine making 180+ it wouldn’t seem likely the Prince will be in the F56.

    • Anonymous

      The Prince is also currently powering BMW models 116i, 118i etc. Prince also powers PSA models meaning that it had had a solid life cycle already and is still advanced enough for BMW to offer it up for the first time at a model launch.

      That said, 2015 is approaching rapidly and fuel efficiency will be paramount, thus the need to move to an even more efficient offering- 3 cylinders based on the scalable .5 liter cylinder engine. Which will also improve performance. Expect more on the 1.5 liter in the coming months….

  • Eric

    So if the new engine is modular and can be scaled to four cylinders, then will the current Prince engine be completely phased out? I thought I had read here that it would stay in the line-up, but with the new BMW engine 3 cylinder turbo engine making 180+ it wouldn’t seem likely the Prince will be in the F56.

  • Mike

    Forget Gert Hildebrand, I wish they’d bring back Frank Stephenson, the original designer of the R53, who was also in charge of the Fiat 500. The “classic look” is a bit more tasteful IMO.. never did like the gaudy JCW body kits and air dams on the R56. And how do you screw up the awesome gatling gun headlights from R53? 

    • Ulrich Diederich

      Mike, couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately the new euro pedestrian impact standards pretty much dictate the a higher front hoodline height, which made the R56/57 so bulbous looking vs. the R50/53.

      • Mike

        They botched more than the hoodline height. I don’t have a real problem with the general shape (though I do like the R53 better), its more the style. It just looks like a hot-wheels toy now. Cant put my finger on it, but it just looks cheap and tasteless (in comparison).

        • goat

          Agree 100%. Nearly every aspect of gen2 was botched and cheapened IMO, from the overall “stance” on its wheels to the details in the interior. Don’t even get me started on the driving experience changes. Ah but this is old news by now to all but the most die-hard gen2 apologists…. 🙂  

          I am fine with 7 year cycle for a car like the MINI, just want them to do it right and bring back the “visual rightness” that the R50/R53 cars nailed so well. I am also fine with MINI adopting a more futuristic design aesthetic and in fact think this is the only way they could really get the 3rd gen right. So good news here with this MF post as far as I’m concerned! 

  • Anonymous
    BMW plans to co-develop the next generation of the MINI hardtop with a front wheel drive BMW built on the same chassis platform and using the same engines. It’s this BMW, marketed as a 1 Series

    Does that mean MINI and the 1 Series will be the same size?

    • Yes – the fwd 1 Series will get smaller than the rwd 1 Series and the MINI will stay (more or less) the same size.

      • Our internal MINI source who has seen the F56 in the flesh told us that the new car is almost exactly the same size as the current car. It will grow by approximately 3 cm overall in order to comply with more stringent crash standards. The BMW will have a slightly different footprint and proportion overall — part of why they won’t look like the same car rebadged.

  • No worries here. the longer it takes, the longer I have to save up. LOL

  • Aurel

    really excited about the future of the brand!!!

  • veggivet

    Just when I thought I was going to buy the Paceman when it came out…Either way, I can’t wait to test drive the 1 series and the MINI head to head.

  • Captain

    If the JCW gets a 2.0 L engine, any chance we get a production MINI w/a 6.0 sec 0-60 (240hp+)?

    I do not expect miracles and do not want to compromise handling/road feel, but would love to see MINI up the ante in performance for those who prefer more spirited driving and do not want to mod.

    • Jon Depentu

      That’s what I’m hanging on for! I’m not too excited about a three cylinder.

  • Mark Smith

    This is phenomenl info and gives great insight into the future. The question that is most burning inside my head is will BMW actually sell this new 1 Series in the U.S. or will it be reserved for Europe and other markets outside of the U.S.? I really look forward to seeing how things play out and am most excited to see both the BMW and the MINI on the market along with a full comparison. I am confident BMW/MINI can really pull of this new modular platform sharing and make it so both cars are unique to the characteristics of each respective Marque.BMW has made as much of an influence on MINI as MINI was integral to BMW for being able to really grow and learn. It’s an amazing story these last 10+ years!

  • Dylan Bland

    New Zealand has the new RWD 1 Series. I think it’s a bit strange that we’re getting a FWD 1 Series too. It’s becoming so difficult to explain to non-enthusiasts what all the different cars are and what the badges mean. (I suppose most people don’t care). Can’t wait to see the new-new Mini though. Will be awesome! 

  • Eric

    I wonder if the new City BMW and the F56 will be priced the same. Same platform, same engine, same class. It seems like they’ll be in direct competition with each other. Not that BMW had a choice with the new fuel restrictions coming.

    • Anonymous

      Pricing will not be the same. If you think a BMW and a MINI are to be priced the same you are looking at things through rose colored glasses. A MINI while a fine product is not on the same level fit, finish and material wise as a BMW. MINI is a different target demo.

      That said, what this may help with is MINI pricing being a bit less as higher economies of scale are at work here.

      We now have a Clubman as my wife won here battle with me to get one and the build is nothing less than way sub 1 Series, not even in the same ballpark.

      For another example- see Countryman vs. X1, same segment different class.

  • What does this mean for the Countrymen? My gf and I will be in the market for a Countryman by fall but we keep hearing wait for 2013 version. Does this mean we should even wait longer? Don’t wait? 

    • The Countryman is on a separate platform (shared with the BMW X1) from the R56 and as far as we know will continue to be on a separate platform from the F56 in terms of chassis. They will continue to share engines, however. The Countryman and vehicles derived from it (the Paceman, for example) are also on a separate development timeline. So if you want a Countryman, there’s no reason to delay — especially since the 2011 engine refresh. The only Countryman worth waiting for at this point would the JCW Countryman, which will debut in the second half of this year.

      • jeff

        aww, nathaniel, you were so close to giving ups some hard information about the paceman!

        • Ha ha! You overestimate my wealth of knowledge. If I had info on the Paceman, I’d give it to you!

        • jeff

          haha!  fair enough, but i’d be remiss not to ask.

      • BimmerFile_Michael

        Looking forward to Paceman!

      • Thank you so much for the answer. Yea, no a Countryman S is in our future and budget so no JCW for us. That makes the decision easy then, we will get the car in the Fall. 2nd MINI in the family! Now if I could only afford the Coupé as well

      • Nick Dawson

        Nathan – The Countryman R60 is built on a variation of the ‘R’ series platform, and has nothing in common with the BMW X1. When R61 ‘Paceman’ is launched in November 2012, it will effectively be the last MINI to use a variation of the ‘R’ series platform.

        F60 Countryman 2, however, will share its UKL1 platform with the FWD/4WD BMW X1. In fact all ‘F’ series MINIs and FWD BMWs will share variations of the same highly versatile UKL1 architecture. The MINI version will always be the smaller of the two.

        • Anonymous

          Spot on… X1 is based on the E91 3 Series wagon. The R60 even has its own individual bolt pattern for the wheels, it literally shares nothing with BMW.

          The R platform is currently being shopped- may underpin a PSA or Alfa in the near future… as the Saab deal is dead.

        • RKCA1

          individual bolt pattern for the R60? I was able to bolt up 5×120 wheels from 135i without any issue. So at the very least the bolt pattern is shared.

        • Anonymous

          Hmmm thank you for bringing that to my attention. My notes are then wrong. I appreciate that, maybe they rethought the strategy on that in the end. It made little sense to me to begin with. Ahh but the bolts are different! 14×1.25 Countryman and 12X1.50 BMW- I may have just written bolt pattern and not BOLTS!

          Here is a great site for wheel fitment.

        • Well I’ve had several people at MINI that they specified that either the off-set or bolt size were a little different on the X1 vs the Countryman. No idea about the 1 Series.

        • I stand corrected. I thought for sure it was X1 based. Perhaps I had early R60 rumors stuck in my head. Either way, the original question is still answered the same. It’ll be a long wait for the next Countyrman, so if you want one, no reason to wait at this juncture. 

        • veggivet

          So what will be new about the Paceman, besides the sheet metal, and the fact that 4-wheel drive will be available in the Cooper? I’m assuming the engine/transmission/suspension will be identical to the Countryman.

        • Yes

        • Nick Dawson

          In addition to the lowered roof line, the ride height will be lower, resulting in sharper handling. R61 will also preview several design cues that will appear on F56.

      • Michael Roth

        Now I’m confused. If I were to buy the Paceman shortly after it debuts late this year, it will be an R-platform based vehicle, but then it will transform into an F-platform a couple of years later? 

  • Eric

    BimmerFile_Michael, I understand that a BMW has much better fit, finish, and build quality, I guess I’m just wondering how much more can they realistically charge for that. It’s very easy to price a MINI Cooper S into the mid $30,000’s. Would a well equipped sporty version of the BMW City Car be easily configured to $40,000? It’s going to be really interesting to see how they price them.  

    • Anonymous

      Don’t be surprised to see MINI be more competitively priced, like I said before greater economies of scale now making purchasing power better as well as shared development costs less per unit. It is a huge win for MINI’s ability to stay viable- yes viable. 

  • Aurel

    so the what this really means is that we won’t have a “new” car from MINI for almost 2 years … save for a few special editions here and there?

    • jeff

      there’s been news on the paceman being released towards the end of the year.