Ward’s Best Engine nominees are out and MINI is in the hunt with two engines this year – the JCW 2.0 4 cylinder and the 1.5L 3 Cylinder. Previous year’s winners are automatically nominated so they can defend their crowns (unless the car that they come in is more than $61k, the base price limit to be considered) thus we see the 1.5L defending its crown. All new and significantly redesigned engines are automatically entered as well (this how the engine for the JCW entered the fray).

The B38A15A 1.5L 3 cylinder is really a wonderful little mill. It’s compact and efficient and because it’s part of the BMW-group modular engine family, development costs are spread over many more vehicle sales. This means better tech at a lower price point, and it’s power and torque both benefit from this investment.

The new JCW motor, code B48A20O0, offers MINI owners what used to be tuner levels of power and torque with a more seamless power delivery plus a full factory warranty. And then there’s that sound.

Winners will be announced later this year.