Currently BMW’s M division is developing a small M car. You can read about that vehicle in detail over at BimmerFile, but in a nutshell both Audi and Mercedes will be offering small, 300+ hp sedans in high performance guise. BMW needs to not only keep up with competition, but they need to lower the barriers of the M Brand. They did that successfully with the 1M. What does this have to do with MINI? Perhaps a lot.
Whether this small, high-performance sedan will sport rear wheel drive or front wheel drive is still up in the air. The engine that will motivate this smart car, is not. BMW M is developing a 300+ hp 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder loosely based on the current N20 found in certain BMWs. Crucially, the engine will be available in both longitudinal and transverse mounting. That will make it as much at home in all wheel drive applications as rear wheel drive. Suddenly all that platform sharing between MINI and BMW gets a little more interesting doesn’t it?
One could easily imagine a lineup of monstrous, AWD-eqipped JCW Countryman, Paceman or even the F56 hardtop hatch running around with upwards of 300 hp under the hood. Sound intriguing? It’s piqued our curiosity as well. The fact that the UKL platform was designed from the beginning to accommodate all wheel drive also helps the theory that specific non-crossover MINI or JCW products could go all wheel drive.
However, just because the building blocks are in place doesn’t mean MINI will use them. The brand has shown restraint when it comes to adding technology and power to MINI JCW products. Yet we’ve heard quiet rumors and read between the lines enough over the past 18 months to know that something more powerful is coming to the brand. BMW’s small M cars may just be the path by which we get that high-horsepower MINI so many of us have been wanting.