Sep 20th, 2014
According to Automotive News, the public unveiling of the F55 will happen at the 2014 Paris Auto Show starting on October 4th. The auto news outlet also reiterates the fact that MINI has great expectations for the five-door Hatch: continued →
Sep 19th, 2014
The Oxford plant tour should be on every MINI fans bucket list. However given time constraints and high prices of air travel for those outside the UK, many of us will never make it. So we’re bringing the tour to you. continued →
Sep 17th, 2014
Over the past five years there’s been plenty of speculation on these pages and others about what MINI would be replacing it’s long in the tooth six speed Aisin automatic transmission. The transmission, first seen in the R53 in 2004 has been a work horse for MINI ultimately finding its way (in revised spec) in the new F56. While improvements have made the unit (enough to even find it in BMW’s halo i8 sports car) six speeds doesn’t cut it in terms of performance or efficiency anymore. Enter BMW’s answer: the Aisin 8 speed AWF8F35
According to sources BMW had considered several options for MINI including the new ZF 9 speed and a dual clutch transmission. It would seem that the existing technical relationship between BMW/MINI and Aisin when it comes to front wheel drive transmissions helped sway them in that direction, there were also other factors at play. For one the BMW felt that the new breed of traditional automatics offers most of the performance of the DCT with greater comfort and higher efficiency.
The more you look at the AWF835 the more it seems particularly well suited for MINI’s needs. For one the 8 speed has a decoupling mechanism that allows for a reduction in parasitic drag which allows for coasting on overrun – something that BMW has been incorporating in across its range. It’s also built from the ground-up to be compatible with MINI’s start/stop functionality.
Estimated MPG Figures
What does this mean to potential owners? According to sources, the AWF8F35 will add up to a 14% improvement in fuel efficiency when compared to the current Aisin 6 speed. Looking at MPG numbers for 2014 (the last that are available as of today), here’s an early look at what we could see out of a 8 speed automatic equipped F56.
Cooper S with Aisin 8 Speed AWF8F35 Automatic
- 29 > 33 city
- 40 > 46 highway
- 33 > 38 combined
Cooper with Aisin 8 Speed AWF8F35 Automatic
- 30 > 34 city
- 42 > 48 highway
- 34 > 39 combined
Keep in mind this is straight math on our part and there could be other variabilities at play as MINI tunes this transmission to work with the existing engines. However it’s easy to see what a 14% improvement will do – immediately make the F5X generation of MINIs dramatically more efficient than anything that came before. Now imagine what this would do for the current diesel range – one of which, the Cooper SD we know is coming to the US within two years. Then there’s the plug-in hybrid that we will either see on the next generation Clubman or Countryman.
If there was disappointment with MPG figures when the F56 was released, they will be quickly forgotten the second the 8 speed hits dealer lots. But the big question is when? Obviously MINI has to be chomping at the bit to get this upgrade out the door. Given that the improvement is so dramatic, we’d be surprised to see the company wait for the 2018 refresh to make the change. Instead we’d expect something much sooner, possibly coinciding with the launch of another variant like the JCW and Convertible next spring or even the Clubman next summer. However these dates are purely based on our best guesses at this point.
One important clue in how MINI roll out adoption if the 8 speed is BMW’s own use of the transmission in the 2 Series Active Tourer. Currently the AWF8F35 is only available in the four cylinder versions of that car meaning the 1.5L three cylinder engine is still mated to the six speed. What that means for MINI is still unknown.
Expect to hear much more on the new Aisin 8 Speed AWF8F35 soon.
Sep 16th, 2014
And that is not an understatement. Following the official launch of the F55 and its subsequent review by a number of outlets, Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler shares his thoughts on the status of the MINI brand:
Think of it this way: if the original Mini was built by a company that had the wherewithal and finances to continually develop it, 911-style, as it should’ve been, I suspect it would be a very similar car – and model range – to what it is today. Whether you like BMW owning MINI or not, the German company has done brilliant things with the brand, and will continue to do so.
Sep 14th, 2014
The four door MINI. Or is it the five door MINI? It depends on which side of the pond you’re from it seems. But the bigger question is, just how big is this thing? We’ve seen publications (who have yet to see it in person) devote entire articles to it being too big and at least one that has driven it write about it being too small. Which is it?
While we won’t be driving it for another month, we can now give you plenty of detail on MINI’s latest four door five seater. For one it’s 4005 mm long, 105 mm less than the Countryman. The wheelbase has been extended in the MINI 5 door by 72 millimetres to 2 567 millimetres, while the track is identical to that of the 3-door model. Unlike the Countryman, MINI has created a four door that should handle for the most part like a MINI. Consider this more inline with the R55 Clubman in the way it had 95% of the R56’s gokart feel.
Interior comfort has been enhanced due to the longer wheelbase. Rear passengers now have 72 millimetres foot space and legroom available to them, while the increased space also provides for a third seat in the back row as well as more comfortable access. The increased vehicle height can be felt in an additional 15 mm of headroom. Meanwhile the car’s interior width at elbow height is now increased by 61 millimetres. The luggage compartment has a volume of 278 litres – an increase of 67 litres or around 30 per cent as compared to the 3-door model.
From a packaging stand-point the F55 isn’t going to be MINI’s family hauler. That honor will go to the redesigned (and noticeably larger and wider) Clubman that starts production next June. Instead this is MINI’s answer to those who’ve wanted just a little more utility out of the standard MINI without resorting to something like the Countryman.
We’ll have much more on the new F55 Four Door MINI including a massive 340 photo gallery and videos shortly. In the meantime click through for the full press release and our best look at the new MINI.
Sep 14th, 2014
The MINI F55 Four door is a new take on the classic MINI shape. Thusly it’s going to take a little getting use to for eyes long used to the more classic shape of the MINI hatch. Nevertheless the F55 is here to stay so it’s time to take a close look at the car that MINI has high hopes for. How high? They won’t say but there seems to a quiet optimism on the new car and what follows it, the 2016 F54 Clubman.
Click-through for our massive 337 photo gallery. continued →
Sep 14th, 2014
Last week MINI invited European journalists to drive the new five door for the first time. While we won’t be driving the car until later this fall, these reviews give us our first real look and MINI’s latest five seater. The early verdict? Read on.