The trade magazine Automotive Design & Publishing has an excellent article on MINI’s new powerplant developed and designed by BMW. Highly recommended reading for all MINi fans but especially those who are mechanically inclined. Here’s an excerpt:

>Cost control was on Sonntag’s mind from the very beginning, especially as the motor was scheduled to make use of technologies like direct injection, Vanos (variable valve timing) and Valvetronic (variable valve lift), an on-demand water pump, flow-controlled oil pump, and–for the Cooper S-twin-scroll turbocharging. “We looked at what the team wanted in terms of output throughout the life of the engine,” says Sonntag, “then started our material investigations with the lowest-cost aluminum alloys and worked our way up until we found the least expensive one that would meet our needs.”

>Working down from an expensive material, he opines, would not have worked as engineers are reticent to abandon a solution that works to one that may not. “When my process engineers told me there was no way to cut costs any further, we’d go out and look at the engine together to see if we couldn’t take out even more material,” he says. The process was a near-textbook definition of the word “obsessive” in that it often meant rounding corners to remove small amounts of aluminum. Sonntag admits the time spent on cost reduction and analysis, “was greater than most companies would accept,” but the result is an engine that hit the cost and technology targets. Minus the Valvetronic and Vanos systems, he claims, the Hams Hall, England-built engine costs the same as the Brazilian-built Tritec it replaces.

>…The excess was spent elsewhere, including redesigning the multi-link rear axle to remove 13.2 lb. of weight by shifting to lighter aluminum longitudinal arms specifically designed for the MINI instead of adapted from BMW’s 3 Series.

You can read the entire article below:

[ Powering the New MINI ] Automotive Design & Production