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The 2014 F56: All You Need to Know About the Next Generation MINI

F56

The 2014 F56 hatch is the first of the next generation MINIs and a precursor to replacements for all future MINIs. While it signals a shift away from unique MINI underpinnings and technology (most of the F56′s underlining structure, engines and electronics will be shared with a new line of front wheel drive BMWs) it also could usher new technology, performance and efficiency never dreamt of in a small car. In some respects one could even look at these changes and be forgiven in thinking the next generation MINI is about to get a little more “Mini” like.

Because BMW is co-developing the cars (some of which is being done by the same teams of people) BMW wants to focus on one launch per year to make sure enough attention is paid to final design, engineering and production. Therefore we’ll see the new front wheel drive BMW debut in Paris in September of this year, then the MINI about a year later.

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.

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. The basic formula is a .5l per cylinder engine with three and four cylinder and six cylinders sharing the basic components. 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.

Engines

The secret has been out for years now that MINI and BMW will be introducing a new family if 1.5L three cylinder engines destined for small front wheel drive cars. But would MINI be replacing all four cylinders with equivalent 3 bangers? Our sources are now telling us that looks unlikely for at least the first iteration of the next generation MINI family. Instead we now believe that MINI will likely continue to use an updated version of the four cylinder “Prince” engine for Cooper S and JCW models through at least 2015.

So one new car and two radically different engines. In fact one source has told us that spotting the differences is quite easy – even under the yellow and black swirled camouflage. If you see a MINI prototype with one exhaust pipe it has a three cylinder engine. If it has two in the center, it’s a MCS or JCW with a four.

MINI intends on spreading the three cylinders across the MINI One and Cooper models initially. Sources are telling us that power ratings should be slightly higher than the current range on both the three and four cylinder models. But it’s the efficiency gains and the weight losses that are the big story. We’ve been told to not be surprised to see US Spec Cooper achieve upper 40 mpg figures on the highway. Additionally the engines should be measurably lighter and allow for better weight distribution front to rear.

Ultimately we believe that the three cylinder engines will not only make their way to the hatch based models but also other MINIs as well. For instance don’t be surprised to see the base Cooper Countryman eventually get the ultra efficient power plant in a late cycle update.

Another update will be the packaging. In most markets MINI will be adding a hard plastic engine cover under the hood (or bonnet) designed to insulate the engine and make it cooler and more economically. How it works we don’t know but our sources were adamant that It could be a way for MINI to dress up the engine compartment while reducing noise and adding some level of efficiency.

Look for the engine to debut in the front wheel drive BMW shown at Paris this September. While it’ll be officially labeled as a concept, it should be very close to production in technology and drivetrain – the very two things the new MINI hatch will be sharing with it when it hits the market in late 2013.

Transmissions

Through sources close to the development of the new MINI, we’ve heard rumors of two different transmissions under consideration. The first rumor points to an Getrag sourced 8-speed dual clutch transmission. The second points towards ZF sourced 9 speed conventional automatic. Either option would be a huge improvement.

First lets take a look at the rumored 8 speed DCT. For those who know the technology behind the DCT, this is a huge improvement. While the transmission will default to a fully automatic mode optimized for fuel efficiency and drivability, it’s better to think of a DCT unit more like a manual minus the clutch pedal. Gone is the torque converter — the “slush box” that can so readily suck the fun out of a car like the MINI while adding weight, dulling performance and penalizing gas mileage. Instead, a good DCT transmission can give you back some of the control and direct engagement of a manual, but with the convenience of flappy paddles behind the steering wheel.

Then there’s the rumored 9 speed auto. While this is a traditional auto in the sense that it has a torque converter, it’s much closer to a DCT in the way it changes gears and matches revs. If rumors are correct, this 9 speed will be used for all front wheel and all wheel drive BMW and MINI products in the years ahead. It will likely feature (just like BMW’s similar 8 speed) a full lock-up and will shift as fast as a DCT while offering greater refinement and fuel economy. Can you guess which one we’d prefer? If this rumored 9 speed has the performance of BMW’s similarly designed 8 speed, it’s hard to bet against it.

Either option give MINI dramatically more gearing and a greater opportunity for efficiency. Depending on the final ratio, that many gears ought to both hold the power band in the lower gears and stretch the fuel economy in 7th and 8th (as is the case with BMW’s current 8 speed ZF automatic). In any case, the final experience will come down to the software than runs the unit. Will it be crisp, instantly responsive and predictable? We’re hoping and expecting so. The cryptic, inconsistent gear change responsiveness of the current unit is our biggest complaint by far.

Manual fans need not fret just yet, either. The F5X/F6X MINIs will still have manual transmissions as standard. Our information is that the changes will be incremental.

According to sources inside MINI familiar with future product features, the US market will finally see an auto start/stop system for both manual and automatic transmissions with the F56. The first version of auto start/stop made a European debut in 2007 and since then MINI USA has been interested in adding the feature to US bound cars.

The reason for the delay is two fold; there’s been little incentive since the EPA doesn’t recognize such systems in an overall efficiency index and the bigger concern is that the system isn’t free. Again, according to those same sources it adds over $200 per car, thanks to the beefier starter motor, the added electronics and programming. MINI USA couldn’t absorb that cost and didn’t want to pass it on to the consumer. But as BMW has moved to add the technology to almost it’s entire fleet, that price is rapidly decreasing as volume of the system is increasing. Likewise things are changing in the US that make the technology more relevant to the way the EPA measures efficiency- there is an added benefit to automatic transmissions with the current EPA test procedure. This makes a much stronger argument for bringing the system stateside.

We expect the system to debut with the next generation MINIs – the first (the F56 hatch) set to debut in the fall of 2013 as a 2014 model. After that MINI will roll-out other derivatives (the five door hatch, the convertible, Clubman etc) that will all share the technology. Other MINI models such as the Countryman should see the system added over the lifecycle as well.

The system will work identically to the current set-up, which is the second generation of the system. On the manual the Auto Start/Stop function switches the engine off automatically when the car comes to a stop, such as at intersections and in traffic when the car is placed in neutral. When the clutch is depressed to shift into a gear the engine reignites. The manual setup will also feature a shift point display in the cluster that advises the driver of the most efficiency-enhancing moment to change gear and the proper gear to be selected.

On the automatic, the system engages (ie the engine turns off) when the driver comes to a complete stop while in “D” and pressure is applied to and remains on the brake. To start the car again the driver simply lifts their foot off the brake (as they would normally) and the engine seamlessly engages.

The system protects the engine by not allowing the start/stop function until the car is up to proper operating temperature. Likewise it won’t engage if the ambient temperature is too hot or cold or if the demands of the climate control are not being met. The system is able to be turned off manually, detects stop and go traffic (disengages) and can be overridden by turning the steering wheel or relaxing pressure on the brake pedal.

It seems all a bit backward to US that the EPA hasn’t had the forsight to change it’s system of measuring to include such systems. It’s pretty clear that auto start/stop saves fuel (and potentially a lot of it) in commuting situations. It’s nice to know that MINI will finally be taking the initiative (as BMW has). We have long term experience with the European version of the system and have seen the fuel economy gains.

Exterior

With the F56 being developed alongside the new front wheel drive BMW, one of 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? Based on sources we’ve spoken with inside MINI and BMW who’ve seen both new designs (people have been in the room with both of the prototypes), the answer is a resounding no. The takeaway we’ve heard? You’d never guess the same chassis platform was underpinning both cars.

Despite concerns on the interwebs the next generation MINI isn’t getting larger outside of perhaps an inch or so to deal with crash standards. And it’s also not getting heavier. In fact our sources are telling us to expect the opposite.

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.

While all the F56 test mules we’ve seen thus far have been heavily camouflaged using tack-on panels and MINI’s normal psychedelic yellow pattern, our sources have helped us peel back the tape a bit.

Let’s start with the one thing that caught the most attention – the elongated nose sprouting out far over the front axel. The MINI has always been known for it’s wheels on the corner stance and this test mule seemed to be completely at odds with it. Luckily we believe this is not a hint of it’s final production form.

In fact if you look closely, you’ll see that MINI has simply grafted an R56 nose onto the F56. How can we be sure? Sources have been telling us in the past few months that the front of the F56 will be very reminiscent of the Rocketman concept in the way the hood is less sloped and more flat. According to these same insiders the F56 will also feature the Rocketman’s large upright grille but with a chrome surround instead of black.

Elsewhere looks for a few more creases – notably just above the plastic wheel arches which are also confirmed for the next generation MINIs.

Around back the F56′s rear logo is no longer set in the body, but in the plastic trim/grab handle. Otherwise the rear should be a natural evolution of the current MINI form language.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not in for a number of small surprises. One that we can share has to do with the fuel filler cap. On the Cooper S, the S logo is pressed into the chrome fuel filler cap itself.

Also worth noting, the F56 will be offered with an optional slim-line roof rail whih fit very close to the body. This is very similar to BMW’s offerings on the new X1, X3 and wagon models. This option will allow for a much easier and non-evasive way to attached bike racks etc.

Interior

Sources familiar with the new interior have called the final form a huge step forward for MINI and likely one of the selling points of the new car. While these photos don’t fully show that new form, they do show a radically altered design brimming with new technology.

First let’s focus on the image itself and break-down the details of what many of you have been pouring over. What we see here is the cheapest spec interior (there will be four total) with the top finished in rough prototype plastic. The higher spec interiors will actually feature different and improved soft dash materials similar to the new 1 Series BMW.

Then there’s the odd looking bezel around the central stack. The actual finished chrome bezel happens to be in the passenger’s hand. The white strip around the circular portion of the centre stack is actually mood lighting, which lights up and swirls around when you engage the keyless ignition (now standard).

Additionally, there are those seats we see in the MotoringAuthority photos. Seats that offer one thing that we’ve been clamoring for since 2001 – thigh bolstering. Long a hallmark of BMW’s optional sport seats, it would appear that MINI will finally be getting the option thanks to parts sharing. And that’s not all. The seats shown also have more aggressive side bolstering and look to feature alcantara as well. What is still not final is if the MINI will receive the adjustable bolsters BMW’s do or just fixed position bolstering for those sport seats.

MINI fans are already asking, what about the speedometer? The center speedo on the MINI is no more starting with the F56. This is for two reasons. First, MINI has taken hit after hit in consumer surveys with the primary speedometer being located in the center of the car. They’re finally listening to that feedback. Secondly, the electronics of this car will be almost identical to the upcoming front wheel drive BMW, and while that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do a center speedo, it meant that there was additional cost this time in making it happen.

Instead of the center speedo, the F56 will feature a traditional dial speedometer behind the steering wheel where the current rev counter is. The new tack will be a smaller, semi-circular gauge attached to the left hand side of the speedometer. It’s a more contemporary design, and frankly, a little funky. Changed though it is, one could never accuse any MINI interior of being boring.

The air vents lose their circle shapes with the center two vents being a more traditional square shape. But don’t fret, the circular theme will be continued with round vents near each door.

In the photo, just behind the passenger’s left knee, is the large triangular chrome-and-red start/stop switch which is designed at this time to pulse like a heart beat when the ignition is turned on. However, this isn’t final and may get removed for production. The far left chrome toggle switch is the Sport/Eco button that will operate in an identical fashion to BMW’s current system. Sport will work similar to the current sport button in that it gives the steering more weight (but not less feel as with the current system) along with more aggressive throttle response. On cars with the optional 8 or 9 speed auto the button will also change shift programs so that gears are held longer and the shift points are more aggressive for better acceleration.

As mentioned previously, what we are seeing here is the lowest specification entertainment interface, but as some of you have pointed out, it’s coupled with a prototype H/K system as evidenced by the tweeters in the A-pilar.

Technology

The preceding was discussed almost in its entirety a month ago when we walked you through what we knew (and what we could tell you) about the next generation MINI’s interior. Beyond the basic details, the interior will boast a more straight-forward approach to interfacing with the car and its entertainment options. Speaking of those options, the window into that world is about to get much larger. As we’ve reported, the next MINI will adopt a BMW-sized widescreen for displaying content, seen for the first time today via MotoringAuthority.com. However, it’s what that screen will display, and what MINI positions around it, that’s interesting to us.

As you can see in the photo above, even though the center speedometer is gone in the F56, MINI clearly had plans for that central, circular area. The infotainment system will likely be available in two sizes depending on markets and options. The full navigation equipped MINIs will have a 8.8″ monitor which will likely display 1280×480 pixels. If MINI follows BMW’s trend, it’ll also offer a 800×400 6.5″ display as a lower cost option that comes only with MINI Connected functionality or other features. MINI may ultimately make the latter standard in some markets or offer it at a lower cost than the current MINI Connection only option. BMW is including a basic iDrive system with a smaller screen and no nav as standard in the US on recently introduced models (similar to MINI connected), it’s a possibility MINI USA will do the same.

Enter the Real iDrive
The test mule in these photos has the final spec screen but still has several components that are works-in-progress. Notably, the iDrive is a direct carry over from BMW prototypes we’ve seen around Munich. Will MINI adopt the BMW input system (known as iDrive) seen here or continue with the joystick we know today? We believe that MINI will adopt a BMW-like system, which will actually be a dramatic improvement over the current system. The new interface will likely offer physical short-cut keys and a next generation input device with touch control and even gesture recognition on the top of the knob. Sources familiar with the technology tell us that it dramatically improves interaction with system lists and the navigation map. You can see a prototype of this in action over at BimmerFile where our colleagues detailed the technology earlier this Spring.

The system will also likely include BMW’s revised system graphics with 3D elements in the individual menus. Expect at least a 1.3 GHz processor and dedicated 3D graphics card to create smoother and quicker transitions.

Along with the menu presentation, the navigation system and graphics will also be heavily revised and enhanced. The map and guidance information will be depicted with greater brilliance and sharpness than seen in current MINIs. Like BMW’s revised system, look for more functionality without having to leave the map view, allowing for real-time traffic and weather.

Information on the Highway
How is MINI getting at this data? Unlike the R56 generation, the F56 will have an onboard cell connection. But unlike current BMWs, that make due with an archaic EDGE connection, sources tell us that BMW will debut its new LTE onboard connection — allowing for a bandwidth of data to and from the car almost unthinkable ten years ago. This wireless technology is also 3G backwards compatibility. This new LTE speed could eventually allow “cloud” processing to help calculate larger amounts of map and system data without relying on the processing power of the in-car systems.

Because the screen will be so wide, the F56 will also likely divide up that screen space into a two separate active visual areas. This split-screen approach could allow, for example, a user to enter a destination while seeing the corresponding map at the same time. The zoom function can then verify whether the destination found by the system is actually where you mean to go. Anyone familiar with the current system can appreciate what a big improvement that could be.

There will also be enhanced high-level guidance features that are automatically activated when the driver reaches a certain distance before the next navigation instruction. At this pre-instruction point, the arrow display turns into a schematic, perspective view of the surroundings. This gives the driver even better orientation to where they are and how it relates to their next turn, thanks to an enhanced depiction of the location and even precise lane guidance. For an optimal picture, the perspective view changes in stages to a top view of the junction or intersection as the vehicle approaches it, while a dynamic vehicle indicator pinpoints the car’s current position.

Then things get really cool. If MINI follows BMW’s lead (and we believe they will), the F56 will be equipped with a new 3D city model view, offering a highly-realistic depiction of the surrounding streets and buildings.

Additional new technology and options
The F56 MINI will usher in a new era of technology to the MINI family thanks to being more closely aligned with BMW. The next generation MINIs will offer (some options, some standard) the following features:

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Traffic Sign Recognition (Not all markets)
  • Adaptive Headlights (offering a wider angle of adjustment then the current system)
  • Advanced Emergency Call (Known as BMW Assist in the US market)
  • Connected Nav with Google Services
  • Rear view camera
  • Park Assist
  • ECO Pro mode (this will be marketed under a new name for MINI)
  • Auto Start/Stop (yes this is coming to the US as it is in all new BMW models)
  • 8 or 9 speed automatic transmission

What Else is New?
We love pictures like the one above because it allows us to reveal a few things we’ve known about, but been asked not to mention. Once it’s out in the open, though, it’s public knowledge right? One of the biggest misconceptions about the upcoming car is quickly disproved by these photos. No, MINI is not losing the toggle switches. In fact, turning the engine on and off will actually be controlled via a centrally located, large red toggle. However, what is changing is the location of the window switches. Yes, they are indeed moving to the doors where almost all consumers expect them to be. It’s a logical move for MINI, especially given ten years of negative feedback. Even though we like the central window controls, it’s a logical move. People expect a window to be controlled by a switch in the same general proximity to the window.

Very little of this technology would have been available without BMW deciding create a MINI-derived front wheel drive BMW (which actually won’t be available in the US). This allowed MINI to finally and fully take advantage of their parent company. A company known as the most design and engineering focused car manufacturer in the world. A company that pushes boundaries with technology, performance and efficiency while remaining independent. All of that has allowed BMW to take a huge gamble with MINI. The 3rd generation MINI is perhaps the biggest gamble yet. BMW is completely changing the way they design, engineer and manufacture cars, in order to properly support the MINI brand. They knew that MINI alone would not get the scale of production needed to afford the performance and technology we’re describing above. So BMW has risked a great deal by bringing a car (the front wheel drive BMW) to market that is at odds with the brand’s history and core beliefs. All to make sure MINI has a future.

Thanks to that decision, that future looks bright to us.

The Five door F55

The MINI has faced one consistent criticism here in its largest market for ten years. Despite it being a core brand attribute, many people in North America can’t get past the size of the standard MINI hatch. It’s seen as unsafe, uncomfortable and most of all, simply not practical. The first two can quickly be disproven by simply experiencing the car in person and reading about its impressive safety certifications. However, getting someone who is used to four door sedans to believe that a MINI hatch can be practical for them is harder to do. So MINI is developing a secret weapon for the next generation hardtop aimed squarely at markets like the US. The internal code-name is F55 and, if it is received as hoped, it could make a MINI seem practical for an entirely new group of potential owners.

The concept is simple. According to sources familiar with the program, MINI will create a 5-door version version of the next generation hatch. Using the F56 hardtop 2-door as its basis, MINI will shorten the front doors by 23 cm (9 in) and add two small, conventionally opening doors behind them. Think of it like the Countryman, but in a smaller package. Those rear doors will be on the small side, only about 35 in, but still more usable then you might expect. Sources are telling us that the rear doors will extend from the trailing edge of the front doors all the way into the rear wheel arches. The F55 will also have four standard door handles, one for opening each side door.

Speaking of those door handles, we can expect a redesign of the pull handles that have been around since 2001. Stylistically they will be similar, but instead of an internally pivoting latch, the entire handle will pivot outward from the front end, much like the mechanism found on newer BMWs. This means no more door handles freezing solid and useless in the dead of winter.

Inside the F55, we’ve been told to expect rear legroom to increase about 5 cm as compared to the next generation hardtop (which will be roughly the same as the current generation). F55 will offer a three person bench seat (like the Countryman and Clubman in some markets), likely as standard.

Stylistically the front of the car will be identical to the new F56. However, the rear will be slightly raked, as the extra 5 cm of legroom will push the boot out slightly. Think of the shape as almost a fast-back — something reminiscent of the upcoming MINI Paceman. In total, the F55 will likely be at least 5 cm longer overall than the F56 hatch, but its a size difference that will be almost imperceptible between the two cars. On the roof, the R55 will feature a more subtle version of the current Clubman’s “dune-line” roof profile to further distinguish the three and five door hatches.

So how should we picture this car? Think of the F55 as a four-door MINI hardtop similar to how VW offers both a two and four-door Golf. MINI will likely market the R55 simply as “the four-door MINI.” It won’t be taking the place of the iconic two door hardtop, but it will be offered for those who want a small MINI with just a bit more practicality. A little practicality wouldn’t hurt the hardtop for many. Have you ever tried to get a child seat in the back of the hatch, or perhaps a dog in and out? Then you’ll know why the four-door F55 may go along way in helping Americans overcome their fears of impracticality. For the rest, the original hatchback form factor of the two door MINI will remain.

Thought of another way, the R55 brings some of the Countryman’s gains in practicality, but with fewer of its SUV-bred performance compromises. Imagine being able to more easily haul passengers, kids or pets, but retain all of the smaller MINI’s handling and lightweight efficiency. That’s a package we can get excited about.

What about the Clubman? Don’t worry MINI still has plans for the “other” MINI. But expect some tweaks to the formula in an effort to make the next generation Clubman (dubbed internally as the F54) a bit more dynamic.

The Timelines

We expect the F56 to debut digitally in late in the summer of 2013, with a public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Production should start at Oxford shortly afterwards with European deliveries happening as early as November. We expect to see the car make it’s way to the US in late 2013 or early 2014.

After 2013 and the launch of the F56 and new platform, things will move rapidly. First up is the F55 five door hatch mentioned above. Then 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.

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Written By: Gabe

  • AMS

    Any chance the new interior/tech will show up in the legacy models before they get totally redone for the new engine/platform? I’d love to grab a Roadster with the current body, but with an updated and less cheap-feeling interior.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      No chance. But optioned well the current interior feels dramatically better than it did in 2007.

      • AMS

        Well, that’s a little disappointing — and surprising to me that they wouldn’t at least bring the new infotainment system to all models at the same time — but since I have no intention of waiting until 2017 to buy a Roadster, I guess I’ll just have to content myself with the older design.

        • BimmerFile_Michael

          Can’t be done on the electric architecture in the current cars without substantial reengineering. It was not upgradeable- the new system will be completely different and share no commonality. It is actually three generations removed.

          They may decide to do this later on in certain models but it is highly unlikely and would be more cost effective to just eliminate the model or move it on- The FXX MINIs are based on the next gen BMW tech that isn’t even in the market now.

        • hemisedan

          I was kind of hoping for that too, as some of the new things that they are talking about with the new F56 aren’t giving me that good Mini feeling. I kind like the speedometer in the middle, although it does cause some concern when my wife asks, “do we have to go that fast?” As for the coupe/roadster, I like them in most ways, but in some ways I don’t. I don’t like the bulkiness of the rear hatch on the coupe, and some angles aren’t right on either one of the twins. But, still I like the R series. But, if we could get the new infotainment center on the R58/59, I could get into that next year in the JCW, but I can just imagine the wiring/electrical problems involved there. Just have to wait for the F56. Wish we could know more about the engines as well as the styling. Have to wait.

      • AMS

        Out of curiosity, how would you option the current interior to make it feel like it belongs in a car that costs as much as it does? JCW/MINI Yours dash?

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Check out our long term Roadster for some of what I’m talking about. Chrome line and JCW dash go a long way as do leather seating. But beyond that MINI has made plenty of small changes over the years to the details of the interior that have helped.

  • AMS

    Also, any word on whether MINI is finally ready to lose the runflats?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      They will continue with the current arrangement.

  • 80 Spitfire

    So the new MINI will arrive in 2014. That means I would wait at least a year after that to ensure all the bugs have been worked out with such dramatic changes. I continue to wait for the new design with many questions, not the least of which is the price! Great job on the article. It helps to answer many of the questions I have had.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      In a way, the FWD BMW will be the initial run out for the new MINI and any significant issues ought to be revealed during that car’s first year on the road — ideally giving MINI time to make any needed adjustments to the F56 by launch.

      • Blainestang

        Good point, Nathaniel. Hopefully they can weed out whatever issues come up with this engine like the timing chain and such on the R56. I can’t purposely avoid the turbo cars with this generation, so I’ll be watching the “common” issues carefully.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1031608383 Chris Topher

        wait, so the UKL FWD Bimmer is launching before the F56? i need to buy a car in ’14….so it’s either this or the new MQB GTI. not sure if i want to be a first year owner for an F56?

  • http://www.facebook.com/guerry.pirtle Guerry Pirtle

    No mention of a diesel? I’m with AMS, MINI needs to loose the run-flats. I’ve gone through too many warped sets of run-flats (the last set had most of the treads still on but were too warped to use).

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      No one likes run flats. But the design of the Cooper S dictates no spare and BMW has a hard time selling a car without a spare without run flats. Diesels, electric and hybrids… stay tuned.

      • AMS

        What has the customer response to Fiat’s inclusion of only a repair kit been? If not (more) negative than that of the response to MINI’s run-flats, it would seem a viable alternative.

        And yes, let me add my voice to those saying what an excellent article this is. It’s nice to have all the existing info, plus a few new tidbits, all in one place.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          I completely agree personally I will continue to lobby people at MINI to hear that opinion. In fact there are many there that share it.

        • ulrichd

          For $450 you can get a compact spare kit as an option on the 500.

  • http://www.mynameisjay.com/ Jay

    This all sounds very exciting. I’m a bit concerned about the fate of the Clubman, though. With a 5-door MINI in the pipeline, it really doesn’t make sense to have the Clubman in the lineup.

    Either that, or (as the naming convention suggests), the F55 will be branded as the new Clubman. Should be Interesting either way.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      The Clubman will be the F54 and is going to continue being a longer more wagon-like MINI.

  • please reply assap

    do u knw the horse power and torque numbers for the revised prince engines and the new 1.5L engines yet? I’m hoping for a 200+ for the normal cooper S and over 240 for the jcw. Is that somewhat possible?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Figures will be only slightly up from the current range. MINI needs to hit efficiency targets as much as increase performance. They are aiming to do both.

      • AMS

        IMO, the current hp/torque (and the way in which they’re delivered) are just fine — at least in the S. If MINI can keep that level of performance AND get 40+MPG, that’s fantastic. I only see ~38MPG in my 109bhp Toyota.

        • Blainestang

          Agreed. A small power bump might be nice, but that’s not what MINI is lacking, IMO.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      Possible, sure. Likely, no.

      The MINI is still a FWD car, so big horsepower numbers are kind of useless, but beyond that, MINI is just as focused on fuel economy as performance. Meanwhile, MINI continues to outperform cars with more horsepower in comparison after comparison, just like it’s done since the ’60s. Horsepower is an arms race not worth competing in. MINI knows that, and they’re not too worried about people who won’t bother to come test drive the car because of arbitrary horsepower values. They’ve never needed those people, and they don’t need them now. Premium small car + lightweight + performance with driver engagement + good fuel economy = MINI

  • Chris Underwood

    Hopefully the “F54″ will retain the Club door functionality the current Clubman has (just on both sides of the car). Reverse (“suicide”) opening doors on the back make it MUCH easier for those of us with kids in car seats to get them in and out than a conventional 5 door by providing two door lengths worth of room to lean through rather than just a single short door’s worth. Trying to get a kid into a car seat through a shortened rear conventional door sounds horrible – it’s difficult enough with my wife’s 5 door Kia, which has larger rear doors than it sounds like they’re planning for the “F55″.

    Honestly I think a three door with the extra 5cm of rear leg room would be preferable to a 5 door as described…

    Any reasoning behind applying the “55″ from the Clubman to the new five door and sticking the Clubman with the new “54″ designation?

    Hoping the new Clubman is out for the 2016 model year and doesn’t suck… Will be when I start considering trading in the ’11 R55 and I’d really like the boost in MPG.

  • piperbud

    Most must concede that FWD imposes significant horsepower limitations and that MINI will continue to be reined in until AWD becomes available in all models. And while it may be laudable to marry performance and economy, execution entails significant trade-offs. I would prefer to see MINI pursue the two objectives by offering different models that are specifically designed to either maximize efficiency or performance. The “best of both worlds” oftentimes dilutes many desirable attributes in translation. Make a Prius-like BMW i3 electric, but also make a dedicated, no-holes-barred, ultimate performance machine GP that is well beyond what we will be soon seeing in showrooms.

    • Hemisedan

      Have to disagree on this with you. Sure, 400+ hp would be rather senseless, but if I remember correctly Ford had a bit over 300 hp in Europe with their Focus RS. That was front wheel drive only with their 5 cylinder. Also, with fwd the power gets to the ground a whole lot quicker. Think about the power loss when you do a rear wheel hp test, then do a front wheel power test on the same dynometer. Far less power loss from the front wheel drive cars. Remember reading about some of the JCW’s, or for that matter the S and the JCW’s had a base line of very close to 200 hp, about 170 or so for the S. Now take a 315 hp Ford GT and they will be luck to get 260 rear wheel hp. Whatever: I’d like to see some power gains with the S or next JCW too. I’m thinking that we may see the JCW as the S power plant in the F56. Just have that feeling.

      • BimmerFile_Michael

        Can’t agree with the power getting down quicker or better with a FWD- that is anything but the truth. A) can’t compare dyno tests unless they are on the same dyno and at the same test- too many variables.

        B) Drivetrain loss is proprietary and BMW Group has some of the least amount of DT loss out of any company regardless of FWD or RWD. Look at the new M5- it is rated 560hp and dynos are reading over 520 at the wheels… that’s RWD. C) How does the distance to the drive wheels have anything to do with it as the connection to the engine is almost the same distance? I don’t get it?? The biggest thing is that RWD will get a better jump off the line unless the FWD is overweighted and using drag radial in the front to keep the power down. Thanks to physics and weight transfer when a vehicle moves forward the weight moves to the rear- where in a RWD the power goes in a FWD that means there is less weight on the front where in needs to be, the same goes for cornering where the FWD is steering and driving equating to less traction getting to the drive wheels. There is a reason 99% of race cars in elite racing are RWD.

        • Blainestang

          A) I agree, you can’t compare ONE dyno to ONE other dyno on a different day/dyno/test, but if you have, for instance, 20 dynos that say Car A makes 300whp +/- 10whp and 20 dynos that say Car B makes 280whp +/- 10whp, then your comparison gets to be notably more statistically significant.

          B) BMW is also known for underrating their cars, so it’s not solely a result of low drivetrain loss. Additionally, drivetrain loss is likely not actually a percentage of power, as it is normally considered (15%, for instance). It is probably closer to a constant, especially for higher-powered cars where the drivetrain loss would be relatively large if it were actually 15%. For instance, the new GT500 is rated at 662hp based on SAE testing, but it routinely makes 600-620whp on the dyno. Like the M5, that’s nowhere even near 15% loss. It’s probably a combination of being underrated AND having less than 15% loss (maybe a ~40whp constant loss, for instance).

          C) FWD does tend to have less drivetrain loss than RWD. The distance from engine to drive wheels is nowhere near the same between the two, and the FWD car tends to have notably less mass in between the flywheel and wheels. For instance, a FWD car, the differential is often in the transmission and the axles come out from there. In a RWD car, a driveshaft connects the transmission to the rear differential and the axles come out of that. That’s not to say that EVERY RWD car has more drivetrain loss than EVERY FWD car, but in general, the power has a longer path to travel.

      • AMS

        Not having been to Europe, I haven’t drive the Focus RS, but everything I’ve ever read about it suggested that torque steer was — despite Ford’s best efforts at taming it — still a significant problem.

        Just one of the reasons that big bhp numbers are kinda silly on a FWD car.

      • Bilbo Baggins

        The big difference between the BMW/MINI and Ford hp numbers is a cultural difference. The Germans tend to be conservative, the Americans try to inflate it as much as possible. Also in Germany if you say there is 200hp it better be there. Even on it’s worst day.

        For the Americans if one engine, running on witches brew, made 315hp one time, under ideal conditions. They would feel happy to claim that for all engines of the series.

        You are right, there is usually less friction loss for a FWD vs RWD. Most of that additional loss is the 90 degree turn in the drivetrain in the rear differential.

  • Aaron

    Sad that they are ditching the center speedo. I was planning on buying a MCS in December 2013. I actually liked the center speedo; it was different. What will go in it’s place if I don’t want MiniConnect/iDrive or navigation? Having a LCD panel for nothing but AC or radio controls is, in a word, lame.

    • Hemisedan

      I think that I read that the MiniConnect, or something close to that will be standard in the new series, although they also said that there will be four versions too. And, that there will be a screen difference between the NAV and the MiniConnect from 8.8″ down to 6.5″ Gabe or others can verify this too, but that’s what I recall.

    • Hemisedan

      Speaking about the speedo, I said before that I rather like it especially with the MiniConnect/NAV. And in saying that, I don’t know just how enamored I am with the dual Speedo instead of the tach, and then making a minature tach! In the old days, I use to drive more by the tach than a speedo. I just think that it’s going to look a bit strange.

    • AMS

      I like the center speedometer (especially when broken up by the Connect/Nav screen) but I don’t think its loss is that big a deal.

    • Eleo

      Should be an option at least.

  • Evan

    I’m truly intrigued by the 5-door F55. A little more rear leg room, regular doors… I do love the current Clubman but two pitfalls after a few stints in them are the one-sided extra door and the wind noise where front and rear doors meet. With the improved fuel economy and essentially the same body size, the F55 is very promising.

    I agree that a fully integrated MINI platform with BMW is essential and beneficial to the brand. BMW did a good job honing the initial Rover work with the R50. Let’s hope the EPS is improved as it is the biggest and worst change from the R50/53 to the R56 although not as horrible as the change from BMW E90 to F30…

    As I may be in the market for a commuter car in two years, the F56 and F55 will certainly get a good, hard look. It’s simply hard to live up to my MINI driving expectations when my R50 with 91k plus miles on it is still a blast to drive with great steering feel and feedback.

    Judgement being reserved until driving the new one though! Thanks for the updates as always.

    • Blainestang

      Agreed. As much as I’d love to get another Hardtop (and I still MIGHT), having 4 doors and just a few extra lbs over the Hardtop might make the F55 hard to beat for a practical AND fun car. Basically, it’s an even more practical car than the Hardtop with almost no downside (assuming they don’t make it ugly or something). That’s why I recently bought a GTI (in addition to my R56). It’s simply in a whole different ballpark than the Countryman as far as useability AND performance… and it’s notably cheaper, as well. As mentioned in the article, the F56/F55 combo should finally give MINI a combo to compare to the 2-door/4-door GTI pair from VW.

  • magnus

    Will there be a tuning kit for the 3-cyl 1.5 cooper? 120 to184 is a big step today. I wiuld love the 3cyl with 155-165 hp.

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    The image of the engine above is an actual prototype of the new 3 cylinder coupled to a DCT. The output of the 3 cylinder is expected to reach over 220hp in some forms. Not bad out of a 1.5 liter.

    • AMS

      I have to admit, the notion of having a 3-cyl powered car that can outperform many 6-cyl cars (if not in raw power, then with better power/wt ratio) is pretty appealing.

  • Aurel

    I can’t believe this is STILL a year away … couldn’t they just spent all energy in getting this faster done instead of the roadster/coupe?

    • Aurel

      by the time this comes out for sale in the US in 2014 … we will be almost a decade since the R56 was released …

    • AMS

      Meh. I like the Roadster.

  • Trevor Zaharichuk

    Adaptive cruise control would be really nice.

    • AMS

      My fiancee’s car has adaptive cruise and it’s fantastic on long stretches of highway, but I can totally imagine MINI resisting its inclusion on the grounds that it is anathema to the notion of driver engagement on which they’ve built their brand.

      At least until it becomes an expected standard on all/most cars. Then, they’d likely have to give in.

  • gokartride

    So, is MINI losing the script? Sure it is…but when, that’s the question. Some say it came with R56, some say it came with the Countryman, some say the BMW MINI isn’t a real Mini in the first place! As the marque proceeds into the future, I think it wise to thow all this retro-logic out and let the MINI engineers and designers innovate and move forward as they see best. Has somethting been lost? Well sure…and it will never come back. MINI needs to be a brand that looks forward, not always being strangled by the past, so let’s give them some space to work in.

    • AMS

      As long as they’re making small, nimble, quickish cars with style, they’re on-script as far as I’m concerned. Even the Countryman — which I will never buy — is smaller and more nimble (and, imo, better looking) than any of its competition.

      If they can find a way to bring the interior quality up to par with the near-luxury pricetags, I say bully to them. If they can do it while still maintaining a bit of the funkiness of previous generations, that’s great, but I don’t view it as a necessity. If I’m going to spend as near to $40K as makes no difference on a car, I’d rather not have plastic surfaces inside that remind me of my 1995 Saturn.

  • uknoitstrue

    the mini brand is ruined already it doenst matter what they make next. 1st the “Countryman”? Not even a mini more like a maxi, then the stupid backwards cap coupe and sissy “roadster?” please. Just a car for girls and fags

  • Michael

    People expect the mini to be bigger, blander, simpler and that’s what BMW is giving them. Nothing here seems as exciting as an R53 or R56, with all the cons and quirks at least they were unique and had a good carachter. My 5yo R56 is for sale, i dont know what im replacing it with, but i do know its probablly not with an F56. :(

  • Hemisedan

    Question here for Gabe: All the photos that I see of the F56 in disguise show the gas filler on the passenger side. With me, this could be a deal killer. One reason that I haven’t looked seriously at VW, as and I know it is a little thing, but when I pull into a gas pump area, I like to drive up to it on MY side of the car. So Gabe, will Mini do the BMW thing and relocate the gas filler to the passenger side?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      As we reported previously, they will be moving the gas cap route right side of the car as that’s the safest design for roadside emergencies in the majority of markets around the world (UK, AUS and Japan notwithstanding).

      • hemisedan

        I don’t recall that this was previously mentioned. This is pretty much a deal killer for me as I stated before. This is more BMWising the Mini again, to me. If this is such a safety issue, then why are Toyotas, Mazdas and most all the American brands have the gas filler on the drivers side? Especially since the Mini originates in England with right hand drive, and therefore it would be a safety issue to have the gas filler on their drivers side. I know to most this isn’t a big deal, but have you ever had to wait for someone to leave a gas station because you couldn’t get to the pump unless you backed up to it? Also, many drivers never learned to drive knowing where all the fenders were on a car and can’t figure out how much space to leave to have the filler close, and not on top of the gas pump. It’s not a big deal to most, but this will put either a Mini Coupe/roadster JCW in my garage in two years. This sucks, as I truly was looking forward to the F56 as a replacement for my JCW hatch.

  • miniman

    looks like a 1 series, with a hint of mini. looks so uninspiring, especially that centre console, sooo dull.

  • hemisedan

    Gabe: Has there been anymore information coming out of MINI/BMW on the F56 again? After sitting in the Coupe and Roadster the other night, I don’t think that I can live with that windshield slanted that much. Feel real clausterfobic in there, for me. I don’t know how you drive around Chi-Town in your roadster with that kind of visibility. So, I’m back to investigating more, about the upcoming F 56. I, probably need more back storage space, too. Also, any ideas as to IF they will come out with a JCW version of early on? Thanks!


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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'12 JCW Coupe
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'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
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'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
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Reader Review: JCW GP
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Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
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'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
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'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
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'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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