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Mini lifts the lid on its next-gen powertrain and chassis tech

By Bob Nagy on September 30, 2013 3:51 PM
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While a full reveal of the all-new 2014 Mini Cooper and Cooper S Hardtop models won't happen until mid-November, a number of mechanical details about the first of these fully redesigned Mini models has now been confirmed. As promised, they'll be larger yet lighter and offer better performance than the vehicles they replace while introducing innovative drivetrain, structural and suspension enhancements aimed at making them -- and all other subsequent next-gen Mini family members -- even more responsive and fun to drive. 

Heart of the new Mini clan in the U.S. will be two all-new BMW-designed TwinPower Turbo engines developed specifically for transverse installation. Both of these highly efficient engines are fitted with an innovative single twin-scroll turbocharger that's incorporated into the exhaust manifold and feature  direct fuel injection, and double Vanos variable control on the intake and exhaust camshafts while the more potent variant also benefits from BMW's patented Valvetronic fully variable valve control system. 

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Motivating the 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop is a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 134 horsepower - 20 more than the 1.6-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder in the current Cooper Hardtop - and a stout 162 lb-ft of torque, which represents nearly a 36-percent increase in that critical output figure. Better still, those twist units arrive in full measure at just 1,250 rpm and can be momentarily raised to 170 lb-ft using an overboost function, all of which bodes well for better off-the-line quickness. The step-up engine in the upcoming Cooper S Hardtop is a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 189 horses - eight more than the current 1.6-liter turbo - and cranks out 207 lb-ft of torque at 1,250 revs. That reflects a comparative gain of 30 lb-ft, which also can be pushed via the overboost function to an even headier 221 lb-ft. 

Both engines will incorporate start/stop technology to further enhance their operating efficiency and be paired with a new generation of manual and automatic transmissions which are expected to remain 6-speed units. The manual gearbox will feature rev-matching functionality, and on Minis equipped with navigation, the autoshifter will be able to optimize gear-selection choices using traffic and terrain condition data culled from the selected driving route. 

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Complementing a more rigid and robust core structure that uses a far greater percentage of high-strength steel, the recast Mini Hardtop will feature a new and more sophisticated front-strut/rear-multilink suspension system. Wider track dimensions, revamped chassis elements, optimized geometry, more precise electromechanical power steering and enhanced, model-specific brakes are just a few of the key revisions in the next-gen formula meant to further enhance the dynamic brilliance of this new Mini. The finely focused remake also brings the first availability of an adjustable damping system with driver-selectable Comfort and Sport shock settings accessible at the touch of a button.  

More details will be presented when the 2014 Mini Cooper and Cooper S Hardtops are officially unveiled on November 18th. We expect even more U.S.-specific information to come two days later when this new Mini makes its first appearance here at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. 

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