Mini Powers into the Next Generation
NEWS ON RADIO
1st August, 2006
The full reveal of the next generation Mini is just one month away, but Mini has provided a sneak preview of the new car’s mechanical package.
At a final pre-production shake-down in Holland, lightly camouflaged cars were driven by the European media.
In five years, more than 800,000 Minis have hit the road. Now the Mini evolves into a more sophisticated package all round.
The next generation Mini will arrive powered by brand new British-built engines, featuring for the first time, turbocharged induction and a carefully, but thoroughly revised interior.
Outside, the instantly recognisable silhouette and stance are retained, albeit in a subtly refined manner.
Engineers were tasked with enhancing the agility and control delivered by the go-kart-like Mini handling.
Every part of the powertrain and chassis has been thoroughly revised or updated.
Engines and transmissions, suspension and steering, brakes and safety systems are new from the ground up.
The result is quite simply Mini at its best – both in design and handling.
The first of the next generation Mini models to reach the international market will be the Mini Cooper - equipped with an 88 kW four-cylinder naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine.
Also making its debut at the same time will be the turbo-charged 128 kW Mini Cooper S, featuring an ‘Overboost’ slingshot torque feature for super fast acceleration.
The Mini One and Mini One Diesel will follow later in international markets. Although the diesel version is not currently planned for the Australian market, as Mini prefers to leave the market for desirable diesels to such competitors as Audi, Peugeot and Volkswagen.
All Heart: Two new engines.
The new Mini Cooper and the new Mini Cooper S are powered by the first representatives of a new range of high-technology engines.
Both have dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder driven by a chain. The engine block and cylinder head are cast from a special aluminium alloy and feature a motorsport-derived bedplate design.
The engines set new standards in the class for innovation, power, performance and efficiency (including complying with the strict Euro IV emission standard). Many of the high-technology features have previously only been available in far more expensive or larger vehicles.
These include, a volume flow-controlled oil pump, and a water pump that switches itself off when not required, saving fuel.
The new engine fitted to the Mini Cooper develops 88 kW at 6,000 rpm and 160 Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm. It has a 6,500 rpm red line and delivers 140 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm.
Fully variable inlet valves are controlled by the unique and highly-acclaimed BMW VALVETRONIC system. This allows the engine to breathe freely, without the traditional restrictions imposed by a throttle butterfly.
Valve lift and opening times are infinitely controlled electronically, combining superior fuel economy (reduced by more than 12 percent over the EU test cycle), responsiveness as well as strict emission control.
The Mini Cooper is fitted for the first time with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a conventional six-speed automatic as an option. This features an almost immediate locking effect of the torque converter at step off, to ensure peak performance.
Activating Sports Mode, gear shift time is reduced, enhancing the car’s highly dynamic qualities still further. Formula 1 style steering wheel-mounted paddles allow manual gear shifting of the automatic transmission.
Mini Cooper S
The even more powerful engine fitted to the new Mini Cooper S is a turbocharged power unit featuring the added benefit of direct petrol injection.
The forced induction system uses an elaborately designed twin-scroll turbocharger fed with a separate flow of exhaust gas from two cylinders each. This helps the turbocharger to respond from very low revs, almost completely eliminating turbo lag.
The turbo blows at a relatively low 0.8 bar, with pressure building from just 1,400 rpm, delivering almost instantaneous acceleration.
The Mini Cooper S engine delivers an exhilarating 128 kW of power at 5,500 rpm and a muscular 240 Nm of torque from 1,600 rpm to 5,000 rpm.
Under enthusiastic acceleration, torque is boosted briefly to 260 Nm by a short increase in turbocharger pressure. This “Overboost” function gives the Mini Cooper S even more dynamic performance.
The engine output is a substantial and satisfying 110 bhp per litre.
Thanks to the twin-scroll turbocharger, and direct petrol injection the new Mini Cooper S will be fast and frugal.
The Mini Cooper S has a six-speed manual transmission as standard and the option of a six-speed auto.
Chassis refined for even more agility
Further enhancing the Mini’s legendary agility and nimbleness is the work of a newly developed EPAS Electric Power Assisted Steering. It delivers natural feedback, a direct response at high speed and low steering effort when parking.
The EPAS also reduces fuel consumption, and has two modes, one for regular driving and one for sportier motoring. This second mode also increases the responsiveness of the electronic throttle.
Front suspension is via McPherson struts and equal length driveshafts, and at the rear the central arm axle has weight reducing aluminium longitudinal arms which save 9 kg.
Just like the current Mini, safety is always a priority, and Mini comes standard with the following features: ABS anti-lock brakes, EBD Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and CBC Cornering Brake Control.
In emergencies, the Brake Assistant builds maximum pressure very quickly, while a new feature, Hill Assist working with DSC, prevents the car from rolling back by briefly applying the brakes when setting off uphill.
Switchable ASC+T Automatic Stability Control + Traction is now standard on both Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S, and DSC Dynamic Stability Control – which ensures extra safety in critical situations - will continue to be available as an option.
Also, as with the current Mini, all next generation Mini models come with six airbags as standard as part of a supplementary restraint system. These are dual front units, thorax airbags fitted into the side of each front seat, as well as extra-large curtain airbags that also protect rear passengers.
Revolution inside, evolution outside.
The new Mini body has been designed not only to evoke even deeper passions, but also to be stronger and safer.
Maintaining the trademark compact overall dimensions, the new Mini is only 60 mm longer, retaining the perfect proportions and stance of the previous highly successful model.
Also retained are the many characteristic Mini design cues: the instantly recognisable grille, large ovoid headlights, the diagonal shut line between the bonnet and the side direction indicators, homage to the original weld seam of the classic Mini. The upright tail light clusters are retained as well.
Wrap-around glazing and the typical wheel-at-each-corner stance (emphasising the minute overhangs front and rear), accentuate the stance of the Mini.
“Evolution of the exterior is supplemented by revolution in the interior”, says Chief Designer, Gert Hildebrand.
The Mini formula aims to provide “maximum car in minimum space”, so the interior of the next generation Mini looks even lighter than before.
The front side air registers have been moved even further towards the ends of the dash, where they meet the door linings.
The dash itself is sportier, more technical or more elegant depending on which of the many trim and colour choices are specified by customers. Just as before, an optional, now 16-part, interior chrome pack adds bright highlights inside.
The most notable change to the dash is the enlarged centre console which houses the speedometer, even for Australia this time.
The console also houses the entertainment, and where applicable, navigation functions.
The slender centre console ensures even more space and roominess within the footwells.
Traditional Mini metallic toggle switches live on in the centre console and are repeated in the roof lining for specific functions.
The conventional ignition key has been replaced by an electronic signal transmitter. This allows the driver to start the engine simply by pressing the Start/Stop button, after having inserted the round chip sensor into the slot next to the steering wheel.
The high levels of customisation available on the current Mini will carry over to the next generation Mini in a range of all new trim and surfaces finishes.
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