You know the story is getting juicy when major US automotive publications start to cover it. Autoweek has a nice recap of what we know so far on the next generation MINI… the R56. While there's really nothing new here that hasn't already been seen on MotoringFile or MINI2, it's certainly worth the read. Here's an excerpt:
When BMW reintroduced the Mini to the United States in 2002, it got just about everything right-except, maybe, the engines.
The German producer of the quintessential Brit driving machine will fix that when the next-generation Mini debuts in early 2007 with a new range of all-aluminum, twin-cam engines that BMW will build in partnership with French carmaker Peugeot. The new powerplants include two turbocharged units that will replace the normally aspirated and supercharged four-cylinder 1.6-liter engines in the current Cooper and Cooper S.
The new Mini, dubbed Mini 2 by some, will stick with the same four-cylinder 1.6-liter capacity, but the BMW design will be a higher-tech mill than today's iron-block Tritec engine, which was designed in double-quick time by Chrysler.
The engine will come in four power outputs: 75 hp, 115 hp, 143 hp and 170 hp. The 75 and 115 outputs are normally aspirated, while the 143 and 170 outputs are turbocharged and intercooled. Fortunately, the Mini won't get the 75-hp unit; that is reserved for Peugeot.
The two turbo units mark a major change for the two best-loved Mini models, the Cooper and Cooper S. The Cooper will get a major power hike to 143 hp from today's 115-hp engine. While the power output of the S stays at 170 hp, the turbo-charged engine promises a big improvement in driveability and power delivery over the current supercharged setup.
Mini may pull one more trick as well. AutoWeek sources say BMW is considering sticking with a low-power Cooper model with the 115-hp non-turbo engine, which would provide two Cooper engine options, and one Cooper S engine.
All engines get variable valve timing and other controls inspired by BMW's six-cylinder engines, with the turbo units featuring common-rail direct-injection fuel delivery and twin-scroll turbos.
Otherwise, the new Mini sees few engineering changes under its revised sheetmetal. The new body will clothe a carryover platform in which key dimensions increase by a few millimeters only, while the go-kart handling will remain a key feature of the replacement.
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[Photo via Autoweek]