The folks at Gmotors have the best look yet at the new five door F55 MINI. Seeing some of the first full running prototypes on the road means it probably a good time to give you a re-cap of what we know about the car.
The Release Schedule
The 2015 MINI five door (the name is still TBD) will debut in the fall of 2014. Details have yet to be worked out but expect a roll-out to be slightly compressed in compared to the F56 – meaning it should hit the US before the spring of 2015. This should help give the Convertible room to launch that spring.
The new MINI five door will allow MINI to compete in the four door market without buyers giving up the typically MINI attributes. Despite it being a core brand attribute, many potential buyers can’t get past the size of the standard MINI hatch. 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 such as 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.
But what exactly has MINI done to the dimensions to create more space? Read on.
Using the next generation hatch (internally knowing as the F56) as its basis, MINI will shorten the front doors and add two small, conventionally opening doors behind them. This will be much like the Countryman’s layout, but in a smaller package. Those rear doors will be on the small side, 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 and up to the gas cap on the right side of the car. Opening those four doors will be completely redesigned door handles, while stylistically they will be similar to the current car, will pivot outward from the front end similar to the mechanism found on newer BMWs.
Inside 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. As these photos almost let you make out, think of shape as almost a fast-back. In total the F55 will likely be at least 5 cm longer than the F56 hatch which will be approximately the same size in length (give or two a cm or two). On the roof the R55 will feature a more subtle version of the Clubman’s “dune-line” roof profile to further distinguish the three and five door hatches.
MINI will even 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 as well.
Or thought of another way, it’ll bring 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 retaining 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.
Engines and Technology
Since the F55 is an iteration of the F56 the entire range of engines will carry over. For the US that range will comprise of two engines at launch: a 1.5L three cylinder and a 2.0L four cylinder.
The B37/B38 are built on a modular platform that increases .5L for every cylinder. That means that these engines essentially 1/2 or 2/3 of the revered 3.0L BMW inline six. Crucially, both engines are now turbocharged. What that has done is re-align the models, with the Cooper joining the Cooper S in forced induction. In our minds, this makes the Cooper much more performance-oriented than before, but lets look at the numbers.
– Cooper: 134 bhp / 162 lb-ft
– Cooper S: 189 bhp / 207 lb-ft
One note – MINI will likely keep the six speed Aisin automatic at launch before replacing it with the ZF 9 Speed later in the lifecycle.
Look for the slow strip-tease to happen throughout the next 12 months ahead of it’s late 2014 reveal.
Image courtesy of Gmotors.