From AutoExpress:

“BMW is Working on a swift fix to one of the new MINI's weakest links – it's engine. Our exclusive photographs reveal a Cooper S testing a new motor under it's bonnet power bulge.

All today's petrol MINI's share the Chrysler-design 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which Autocar dubbed “mediocre” in our first 2001 road test, with only average refinement, character and throttle response.

However, the next-generation MINI will ditch the 'Pentagon' engine for a new one being developed in tandem with PSA Peugeot Citroen. This is the first time an engine mule has been spotted on the road.

Autocar sources say the new engine – dubbed 'Prince' – will be available in 1.4 and 1.6 litre capacities with direct injection from 2006, followed later by Valvtronic versions.

They require a taller bonnet to accommodate a set of intermediate arms arranged vertically next to the camshaft, explaining the exaggerated bonnet bulge on this prototype.

An electric motor operates intermediate arms to vary the intake-valve openings, optimizing the engine for performance under full load or economy and emissions under a light throttle.

PSA's Douvrin plant in northern France, which will use modular manufacturing processes to let different engines share common components, will build up to 2500 of the new engines every day – enough for nearly one million a year across the BMW, Peugeot and Citroen groups.”

We've known for a long time now that BMW was partnering with PSA to develop the next generation MINI's engine. What we didn't know was an exact time table and specifics. Can't want to hear more. The article isn't on the web yet but you can read it in this scan from James79 via MINI2: Quick Fix Boosts MINI Power.