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300+ HP From MINI’s New 3 Cylinder Possible According to BMW M

BMW 3 cylinder TwinPower

It’s all theoretical of course but when asked about BMW’s new 1.5L three cylinder architecture the head of BMW M was unusually candid about the possibilities. According to an interview Dr. Friedrich Nitschke gave to Car and Driver the new engine is capable of more than we initially thought. Quite a bit more.

Here’s the full quote:

The three-cylinder is an attractive engine. It is possible to reach around 185 to 200 horsepower per liter in a forced-induction three-cylinder and we have 1.5 liters of displacement. Such an engine, which, by the way, sounds very similar to a six-cylinder engine, would have over 310 horsepower. And we are not even at the limit there. Generally speaking, I could imagine such an engine.

What this means for MINI and even JCW is very unclear. We’re not even if this level of tune will ever see an official light of day. But to know its possible is interesting indeed.

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Written By: Gabe

  • lavardera

    ehh, Mini & BMW have never had the courage to offer hp that high in factory Mini models. Lets not kid ourselves.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Sure 300 may not happen. But I’ve heard whispers of a much more serious effort with JCW in future products. I think the M135i has woken everyone up.

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

        More than one source at MINI has all-but confirmed the possibility of AWD being available across the lineup starting with the F56 — describing it as one way to introduce more power into MINIs. So we may indeed see much higher horsepower numbers coming out of JCW, but if the Countryman and the Paceman are any indication, AWD will come as standard. So that’s certainly a trade-off.

        • AMS

          AWD is really the only way that HP numbers higher than maybe 250 are going to make any sense.

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

          Exactly.

        • AMS

          I look forward to the possibility of one day replacing the R59 I’ve just ordered with an AWD 2018ish Roadster. Maybe they’ll even have that rumored hard top by then. With more power, the extra weight shouldn’t be much an issue.

        • Ike

          What’s that going to do to the value of GPs?

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

          The GP isn’t really about horsepower, so not much.

        • Ike

          Well, if there’s a 300hp awd coopers that outruns the gp in every way…

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

          But remember that it doesn’t do it for zero weight penalty. Also don’t under-estimate the value of being a limited number, special edition car.

        • Blainestang

          There are GPs just sitting on MINI lots at MSRP, just like most special edition MINIs. If one is buying a MINI as an investment, they’re, well, not a very good investor.

        • Ike

          Right. My question though, was what would a more-powerful, non limited edition car do to the value of a limited edition car.

        • Blainestang

          I can’t see how a 300hp (or even 250hp) MINI wouldn’t significantly affect GP prices. My point was that GPs obviously aren’t even THAT desirable at MSRP or you wouldn’t have so many sitting on lots. That’s not to say they’re not desirable (or that I wouldn’t love to own one), but the market is only so big for a $40k MINI with no back seat and garish exterior. If there’s a more “normal-looking” MINI with superior performance and practicality, I don’t see how that car wouldn’t depress GP values.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.nolan.31 James Nolan

    I can see this being a favorite with tuners, who’ll leach all the potential from it. Are we returning to the glory days when the Mini was renowned for the amount of power tuning potential of the A-series engine, which could release up to 3 times its original spec depending on how its tuned. An engine with the potential to replicate that tuning ethos is very good news indeed.

  • Scoz

    I was a decade-long owner of a ’91 Pontiac Firefly with a 1.0 L triple pushing 55 hp when new in a chasis as stiff as a wet sponge. 0-60 was 3 days, 24 minutes, 52 seconds. Beat that BMW!

  • Captain

    you can almost imagine a CAI and a big honking intercooler strapped on that block… a little exhaust work + some ECU finesse, sure… 300+ is not out of the question

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

    The 3-cylinder engine in our stock Triumph STR moto makes 104 hp out of just .675L, so this seems completely plausible.

    • Scoz

      It does so reliably as well. Scaled up to about 1.5 L, the specs of the Street Triple R would translate to about 230 hp naturally aspirated. Strap a turbo to it and ~300 hp seems achievable. If you take the current Daytona 675 specs (0.675 L and nearly 130 hp) and do the same math, the picture would look even better. Sweet bike btw Nathaniel!

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

        Thanks! It’s my wife’s.

    • rick

      i have a str as well and it’s always what i think of when people think triples are wussy. triumph’s triples have the most incredible sound and grunt.

      • rick

        as an argument for three cylinder engines, i mean.

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

        Absolutely. The 800, 1050 and 1200 triples are all very impressive. Tons of torque, but still very smooth and rev-happy. For those not familiar with the STR, it has a nearly 14k red line, and makes great power across the entire rev range.

  • GoFukyerslf

    How about unlock the current ECU so that we can tune to that level before moving on to something else BMW. Since you guys love to keep us MINI tuners in the proverbial closet.

  • Bob Hayhurst

    I’m interested in what kind of torque a small displacement 3Cyl engine would have at these HP levels. And at what RPM would top HP be produced? I imagine it would be stratospheric.

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

      Long enough stroke and torque shouldn’t be an issue.

  • piper

    why not a mid-engine GP w/ AWD?

  • Dr Obnxs

    BMW had to say something… The 2014 MB CLA450 AMG has a 360 hp 2L turbo I4 engine. Talk about high specific output! So if you’re just talking about what your 1.5L 3 is capable of, it better be 275-300 HP or you’re already last! ;)

  • Jeff

    Highly unlikely to see this much from the 3 cyl which would equate to 600 for 6 cyl. We already know that next M3 will be in low to mid 400s, meaning that the 3 cyl will probably come in at the low 200s. That being said, they shouldn’t need the 2.0 litre 4 for the S and JCW models if they can make that much power with the 3.

  • Dr Obnxs

    What’s more interresting is what is MINI gonna say when slightly modified motors making 20 hp over stock come in with problems. How can they say the warranty is void if thier engineers are claiming the motor is capable of 310 HP.

    We’ll never see a 300 HP I3 out of BMW/MINI in a production car. Race varient? Maybe, but street, I doubt it any time soon. It doesn’t fit the BMW way of doing motors, or as others have pointed out, it would really mess with the car line ups and pricing.

  • Alex Thompson

    You previously speculated the new Cooper S might use an upgraded version of the current model engine at launch. Based on this any chance we might see a 3-cylinder 180 bhp version of this engine at launch?


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