The MINI LCI (due in 2018 as 2019 models) will be much more about power and performance than style. But first, let’s start out by saying that the MINI brand has never been about power. The performance many of us love about the cars revolve around responsiveness and feel. But the horsepower wars among warm and hot hatches is going strong and MINI can’t turn a blind eye any longer. The Focus RS makes 350 HP / 350 lb/ft while the Golf R gets by with 292 HP / 280 lb/ft. MINI’s most powerful cars (the JCW Clubman and Countryman JCW) produce a more modest 228 HP / 258 lb/ft. In other words they’re quick but not fast. And people are noticing.
MINI is aiming to change that without sacrificing quality and comfort. Basing their engine range on BMW’s module platform was smart. That means updates roughly every 3-4 years with constant improvement in both power and efficiency powered by a company that knows how to build world-class engines.
According to BMW sources, the first update will be both evolutionary and revolutionary depending on the model. For the Cooper, Cooper S and standard JCWs we’ll see an important evolution of the engine range that will include more power and torque (both increasing approximately 4%-5%) along with higher levels of efficiency will be on tap. Also of interest, we’ll also see enhanced acoustic properties (i.e. they’ll sound better), smoother operation and (this is key) a reduction in weight.
What do those percentages mean? Here’s an approximate:
– Cooper: 140+
– Cooper S: 195+
– JCW: 240+
The revolutionary part will come in a special edition of the JCW power plant likely destined for the Clubman and Countryman. Why the larger MINIs? The answer lies in the drivetrain. MINI believes that only AWD should handle power above 250. Thus any special edition 300hp MINI will likely be Clubman or Countryman based.
What’s behind these changes?
A lot. The turbocharging system, consisting of a turbocharger integrated into the exhaust manifold that enables the flow dynamics of the recirculated exhaust gases to be utilised to particularly positive effect, has undergone further development as part of the engine family’s overhaul. The exhaust manifold and turbocharger are now housed together in the cylinder head. The turbocharger casing for the three- cylinder engines is made from either aluminium or steel depending on the output variant, while the four-cylinder units all feature steel casings.
The more advanced cooling system fitted in the new generation of engines likewise serves to optimise the combustion process with the aim of reducing both CO2 output and other pollutant emissions. The new coolant pump now has separate outlets for the flow of coolant to the cylinder head and engine block, which results in far more effective thermal management.
Balancer shafts ensure both the three and four-cylinder petrol engines display the wonderfully smooth operation for which BMW and MINI power units are renowned. These shafts iron out the vibrations that occur when power is transmitted to the crankshaft. Three-cylinder engines will in future benefit from a new balancer shaft complete with a modified drive mechanism that results in a weight saving, improved excitation and further enhanced acoustic properties.
One of the ways that MINI has optimized acoustics is to fit the cars with a single-piece timing chain drive and a new L-shaped belt arrangement driving the alternator, water pump, torsional vibration damper and air conditioning compressor.
What it all means is more refinement, more power and more efficiency.