The next generation Clubman and Countryman are due in 2015 and 2017 respectively, will represent major milestones for the brand. Designed to right the wrongs of previous larger MINIs, they will address concerns ranging from design to performance. Unlike the previous versions of these cars, MINI won’t be tackling these problems alone.
The genius of BMW shared UKL platform and engine strategy is becoming more evident as the months pass since the introduction of the F56. The first wave of component sharing spans everything imaginable:
- The UKL chassis itself – a stronger and lighter chassis than what preceded it in the R56 (which itself was a modified version of the R50)
- Advanced electronics – this has allowed the F56 to leap-frog the competition with advanced options and the industry’s best infotainment system
- Powertrain – at launch this means a range of highly efficient 3 and 4 cylinder engines that are meant to help mini better compete with rivals. However it’s what happens after launch that is particularly interesting.
All good you say but why is MINI only getting 189hp out of a 2.0 four cylinder? The interesting thing about BMW is that they are an organization that obsessively looks at the full picture. Every metric matters – sometimes to the detriment of power figures (look at the new M4 vs its competition). However they also design and engineer for the future..
Based on sources, here’s what we know. MINI is planning several new versions of the B48 2 liter found in the current Cooper S.
In late 2014 BMW will release a 231 hp version destined for a number of products including the 2015 MINI JCW – this engine is known internally as the B48A20O0. Expect the JCW F56 to arrive to showrooms sometime in the spring of 2015.
Enter the High Output Version of the B48
Beyond the B48A20O0, we believe BMW and MINI are working on a much higher performance variant of the B48 with a target output as high as 300 hp. The engine is rumored to be destined for use in the BMW high spec versions of the X1, X2 and future FWD versions of the 1 and 2 series hitting dealers later this decade.
MINI also has plans for this engine In its larger all wheel drive UKL based vehicles – the next generation F54 Clubman and the F60 Countryman. We believe that this engine will form a the basis of a high output all-wheel drive JCW variant of both cars released as early as 2017.
While nothing has been confirmed at this time, this approach would make a lot of sense from a product and marketing perspective. MINIs are increasingly cross shopped with larger more expensive alternatives on one end. On the other are an increasingly impressive list of rivals with products designed to encroach on MINIs market.
If we see such a high performance MINI how will it be marketed? There’s no question in our mind that this would be a JCW product through and through. Having different power plants to solve for difference JCW cars makes sense when you look at how BMW M approaches its models. But then of course that begs the question, why not throw the high output 2.0L in the smallest car you have – the F56 hatch? We expect BMW and MINI won’t want to put that much power through the front wheels only and they’ve already commented to us several times that the F56 will not be available in AWD. Yet it remains an attractive idea. Even if the engine is detuned a bit it could make for one hell of a JCW model. Perhaps a GP? Keep in mind we’ve heard no rumblings of that happening but as always, watch this space.