Mini


Debut: 2014
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: Mini Mk2 (2006)


 Published on 8 Feb 2014
All rights reserved. 


To remake an icon would never be easy, especially if that icon is Mini. How to make the new Mini looked as small as the original, to drive as entertaining as its ancestor and to attract eyeballs in equal measures? The answer was a retro design by Frank Stephenson, an engineering done mostly by Rover guys and a production taking place at Oxford, aka the ex-Rover Crowley plant in the Great Britain. Further helped by some clever marketing, it emerged to be an immediate hit in 2001. From there, the Mini expanded from one car to 2 model lines with 7 variants. Sales grew steadily from 100,000 to 300,000 copies a year. Although the second generation Mini was no longer engineered in Britain, its design and packaging largely followed the Mk1, thus no matter visually or dynamically it remained closely tied to the classic. So far the retro strategy has been working very well.

However, for the third generation new Mini, more drastic changes come to play. There have always been issues that BMW wanted but did not dare to sort out, such as the lack of space, the incompatibility with modern crash standards (due to that extremely short front overhang, obviously) and, probably more important these days, the low level of component sharing hence higher costs. The last generation Mini used to share its petrol Prince engines with PSA, but the rest of the car was unique. Because of its smallness, because of its FF layout, it could not share platform with any other BMW vehicles. Now it is time to change. As you might have heard before, BMW is going to turn the next generation 1-Series to front-wheel-drive. This opens up an opportunity to share platform with Mini. On the plus side, customers will get more/better ingredients for the same money. On the downside, the resultant UKL1 platform inevitably needs to be enlarged a bit to suit the BMW model. Consequently, the Mk3 Mini would be more un-Mini.



From these cleverly angled pictures you might not notice the negative effect. If you see it in fresh, you will find the nose is noticeably longer, so long that it has lost some of the super-compact feel of the old car. Tape measures find the new car has grown 122 mm longer, 44 mm wider and 7 mm taller. Half of that extra length goes to the front overhang to improve its crash worthiness. In contrast, the wheelbase gains a relatively modest 28 mm. As a result, the body profile becomes more conventional.

Despite of the longer nose, the Mini Cooper is still easily recognizable because it has kept most features of the old car, such as the round headlights, clamshell bonnet and "floating" roof. The windscreen is set at slightly faster angle but still considerably more upright than other cars. By blackening the middle section of front bumper, the chromed radiator grille appears to be larger, and its hexagonal perimeter looks more stylish. Not so good is the hot Mini Cooper S, whose additional lower intake doesn't gel with the rest of the nose, and turns the car into a bulldog! To me, the lesser Cooper is more tasteful. At the back, the new car has its taillights enlarged and added with more jewel effect. In short, it still looks very much a Mini, though you need some time to get used to the extended nose.


Better news on the inside. The old car used to be a premium hatch without a premium interior. Its cabin design looked funky enough, but the plastics were low rent and ergonomics was flawed. BMW worked harder in the new generation. The dashboard and door panels are now made of high-quality soft plastics like BMW 1 and 3-Series. Fit and finish is better, and the perceived quality is greatly enhanced by the new steering wheel, instruments and head-up display. The funky styling theme is kept, with plenty of circles in the form of vents, instruments, switches and door locks. The center console is again dominated by a big circle, but instead of the previous speedometer (the "Big Ben") it is now the home of an 8.8-inch infotainment screen. Ergonomics is greatly improved by relocating the speedometer to the normal position, i.e. right above the steering column together with the rev counter. Other ergonomics enhancements include bigger air-con controls, relocated window switches (from the console to the doors), larger adjustment range for the steering wheel and the more intuitive control of i-Drive.

The larger doors allow easier access to the cabin. The front seats are supportive and comfortable. There is slightly more head and legroom for both front and back, although the rear is still best reserved to children, or adults for short trips. No problem, as the Mini is not sold as family car anyway. Nor it is a load carrier. Its 211-liter boot might be slightly better than before, but remains comical in the hatchback class.



More interesting to me is the new engines, in particular the 3-cylinder 1.5-liter on the Cooper. This is the first application of the BMW 3-pot engine. It is not necessarily cheaper to build than the outgoing 1.6-liter Prince motor, but it is certainly lighter and significantly more economical to run. You may see it as the N20 with one cylinder chopped off because they are of the same modular family, sharing the same bore spacing and the same cylinder capacity of 500 c.c., which according to BMW is the optimized figure for efficiency. It also shares all the high-tech features of the N20, such as direct fuel injection, Bi-Vanos variable cam phasing, Valvetronic variable valve lift and turbocharging. The turbo is different though, as twin-scroll turbo is not suitable to a 3-cylinder engine (ridiculously, BMW still dubs it as "TwinPower Turbo"). Output is rated at 136 hp, a considerable increase from the 120 hp of the old 1.6-liter normally aspirated unit. However, the real difference lies on torque delivery. Instead of 118 lbft, it now produces 162 lbft (or 170 lbft on short overboost), and this is available from as little as 1250 rpm. This gives the Cooper a really lively performance. It feels far brisker and far more flexible than the old car. 0-60 mph sprint is greatly shortened from 8.6 to 7.4 seconds, and you no longer need to work hard to deliver such performance. Meanwhile, top speed is raised to a remarkable 130 mph, thanks in part to cutting the drag coefficient to 0.28. Fuel consumption is reduced by 17 percent.

Worries about loss of refinement is unfounded. A balance shaft is fitted to make sure the 3-pot runs as smooth as a 4-pot. Adequate engine mount also helps. The three-cylinder exhaust pulses are only evident at low rev. On motorway, the new Cooper is noticeably quieter because it doesn't need to be revved as hard as before. Other improvements in NVH suppression also result in a more relaxing ride.



The new 6-speed manual gearbox is also more refined to use. It should be praised for short throws and a positive shift action. Comparatively, the Aisin 6-speed automatic is less impressive, as it is unresponsive in manual mode.

Reversing the downsize trend, the Cooper S employs a 2.0-liter turbo with 192 hp and 206 lbft (221 lbft on overboost). It is the 4-cylinder version of the 1.5-liter rather than a BMW N20 turned to transverse mounting, though it packs all the same technology. This engine seems to be deliberately detuned and leave room for the upcoming John Cooper Works model. As a result, its performance is barely improved from the old car, with 0-60 mph quoted at 6.5 seconds instead of 6.7. However, its extra flexibility is evident, as is a sweeter top end delivery. That said, I would say the 3-cylinder Cooper is a smarter choice, offering more than adequate performance and refinement for lower costs – and don't forget its nicer looks.

Other models include Mini One (102 hp, 1233 c.c. version of the 3-cylinder turbo) and Mini D (116 hp 1.5 turbo diesel 3-cylinder). They are more decent than the old versions, and no longer need to share engines with other manufacturers.

Despite of the larger body, weight increase is limited to 20-30 kg thanks to the use of more high-strength steel and optimized construction. While suspensions remain to be MacPherson struts up front and Z-axle multi-link at the rear, they are practically new. The front suspension employs aluminum bearings and high-strength steel wishbones to save unsprung weight. The rear axle also employs higher percentage of high-strength steel. Anti-roll bars are now hollow. Electronic-controlled adaptive dampers are available for the first time as option. A rotary control switch alters the suspension, steering, throttle, automatic gearshift etc. The electrical power steering has added torque-steer compensation.


On the road, you will be pleased to find the new Mini has retained the go-kart-like handling of the old car while improved on refinement. The combination of wider tracks and new suspension provides more grip and better poise. You can carry more speed into fast corner without worrying of roll or understeer. The steering is lighter, quicker, more accurate and comes with less kickback. At slow corner, it feels nimble and eager to steer. Push too hard and it will understeer, but lift off throttle abruptly will tighten its line again. The fun factor remains.

Ride quality is firmer than your Fiesta but it is generally improved from the old car, especially at motorway speed. However, on bumpy roads it still lacks adequate absorption, especially on the hotter Cooper S fitted with oversized 17-inch wheels. Even with adaptive dampers installed it is not going to shine in terms of ride comfort. That is the price you pay for its remarkable handling. After all, the original Mini was also known for a harsh ride.

That ride quality problem will be left for the next generation to sort out. For the time being, let us applaud for its vastly improved interior, engines, performance and fuel efficiency. Most important, it still looks and drives like a true Mini, in spite of a bigger nose.
Verdict:
 Published on 19 Sep 2014
All rights reserved. 
Mini 5-door


Mini owners are mostly singles or young couples. When they have children, they have to change to a more practical alternative with proper rear seats and luggage space. Previously, Mini tried to capture those demands with the odd Clubman, but not many were convinced by its single rear door. Now BMW has finally built a 5-door version of the Mini.

The 5-door Mini looks quite strange, doesn't it? It sounds like a Mini LWB or Mini Limousine, because its wheelbase has been stretched for 72 mm compared with the 3-door hatchback to make room for the rear doors and more rear legroom. Besides, its rear overhang gets another 89 mm to free up luggage space. The overall length now reaches 4 meters – nearly a meter longer than the original Mini! If you already found the Mk3 Mini taking some time to get used to, the LWB version will take even longer.



Inside, you will find all the extra wheelbase goes straight to rear legroom, which is now suitable for adults up to 6 feet tall (assuming the front occupants are no taller). The prominent transmission tunnel and limited width still rob the possibility of fitting the 5th passenger though. The rear doors are small, so access to the rear seat is not very convenient. Luggage space is improved by 50 liters to 278 liters, but it still trails almost any supermini rivals. On the plus side, the funky interior styling and premium material quality are carried over intact from the 3-door.

The 5-door also has all the powertrains and chassis components unchanged. Its longer wheelbase and 60 kg extra weight have little effect on its acceleration and handling. This means it keeps the quick, grippy and agile characteristics. The ride remains too firm and noisy to family men and women, but hey, this is a Mini! Don't think it was really a Mini Limousine!
Verdict:
 Published on 14 May 2015
All rights reserved. 
Mini John Cooper Works


52 years ago, a guy called John Cooper modified Mini into a high-performance small car that won a hat-trick of Monte Carlo rally. Since then the Cooper name became an indispensible part of Mini. This is strengthened further in the new era of BMW ownership. In the model tree of Mini, there is not one but three Cooper models – Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW), covering a wide performance and price spectrum rarely seen in B-segment cars. The range-topping JCW is expensive – it starts at £23,000 in the UK but, given the vast array of desirable and costly options, you can easily take it north of £30,000, which is the same money of a Golf R or a decent Audi TT. Design aside, is the Mini JCW worth so much?

Judging purely from performance perspective, it might not be. Yes, 153 mph top speed and 0-60 mph sprint under 6 seconds are undeniably fast for its kind, but it is no match with the aforementioned Golf R. The Mini is powered by BMW’s new modular 4-cylinder engine with 500 c.c. each cylinder. It is also used by the lesser Cooper S, but whereas that engine is detuned to 192 horsepower, this one produces 231 horses. Remarkable? Yes for the class which consists of mostly 1.6 turbo rivals, but no for a 2-liter-class engine. Mind you, the same B48 engine on the latest BMW 330i yields 252 hp, while the mad Mercedes A45 AMG trumps it by a massive 130 hp! The 2-liter engine of Audi S1 ties with it on horsepower, but overwhelms it in terms of maximum torque, i.e. 273 versus 236 pound-foot. In fact, from its flat torque curve, which peaks from an incredible 1250 rpm all the way to 4800 rpm, we can see the Mini engine is deliberately restricted, probably to improve drivability or not to overwhelm its front-wheel-drive chassis, which has neither a limited-slip differential nor torque-steer-reducing suspension geometry.

The outcome? Its power delivery is smooth and highly tractable. There is no turbo lag, no surge of power hence no memorable points throughout the rev range. It spins eagerly but ultimately it stops at merely 6500 rpm. The exhaust note is sportier than that of Cooper S but never gets wild. Overall, it’s a civilized powertrain, especially when mated with Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission. Civilized is good to a premium car, but shouldn’t we expect a wilder character from the hottest Mini?



The JCW has adequate brakes to match its straight line performance. Up front is a pair of 330 mm discs and Brembo 4-piston calipers. Coping with just over 1200 kg, they provide strong and fade-free stopping.

The suspension setup is the same as the Sport option of Cooper S. This means it is considerably stiffer. In fact, so stiff that it prefers smooth highways over mountain roads, ridiculously. The optional adaptive dampers is a worthwhile investment, but even with that installed and set to Normal mode the ride quality on B-roads is borderline acceptable, lacking the compliance of Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anv or Ford Fiesta ST. If you love driving a hot hatch in the twisty like most buyers do, the Mini JCW might not be the most sensible choice.

However, the stiff suspension does bring steady cornering. As always, the Mini has a quick steering rack to enable a sharp turn-in reminiscent of go-kart. This brings a strong sense of sporty appeal. It feels agile and responsive without to the extent of nervous. Unfortunately, the electrical power steering is not too feelsome, despite of adequate weighting.

Ultimately, its chassis is default to understeer near its pretty high cornering limit. Without an LSD (unlike Peugeot or Opel Corsa OPC), the JCW is not going to overcome tight corners as cleanly as hoped. However, its tail is mobile enough. Lift off throttle mid-corner will kick its tail outward a little, just like Ford Fiesta ST. This makes it more interactive thus more fun to drive than Audi S1. It might not have the tremendous traction of Audi, but whenever it gets out of shape, torque vectoring by brakes will eventually correct things.

The Mini JCW is a good hot hatch unquestionably. Its iconic looks and premium packaging are peerless. Its driving dynamics is excellent, too, being fast, agile, sharp and fun to drive. However, as a hot hatch is driver appeal its limited by a stiff ride, which makes it less enjoyable to exploit on B-roads where hot hatches matter, and a high price which elevates it straight into the league of C-segment wonders like Golf R or Megane RS.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Mini One
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3821 / 1727 / 1414 mm
2495 mm
Inline-3
1233 cc
DOHC 12 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
102 hp
133 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
175/65R15
1090 kg
121 mph (c)
9.3 (c)
-
Mini Cooper
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3821 / 1727 / 1414 mm
2495 mm
Inline-3
1499 cc
DOHC 12 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
136 hp
162 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
175/65R15
1085 kg
130 mph (c)
7.4 (c) / 7.3*
20.7*
Mini Cooper S
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3850 / 1727 / 1414 mm
2495 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
192 hp
206 lbft (221 lbft overboost)
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
195/55WR16
1160 kg
146 mph (c)
6.5 (c) / 6.8* / 6.3** / 6.4***
16.8* / 16.0** / 16.6***




Performance tested by: *C&D, **MT, ***R&T





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)
Mini Cooper SD 5dr
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4005 / 1727 / 1425 mm
2567 mm
Inline-4 diesel
1995 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
170 hp
265 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
195/55WR16
1250 kg
139 mph (c)
7.0 (c)

-
Mini JCW
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3874 / 1727 / 1414 mm
2495 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
231 hp / 5200-6000 rpm
236 lbft / 1250-4800 rpm
6-speed manual (6-spd auto)
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
205/45R17
1205 kg (1220 kg)
153 mph (c)
6M: 6.0 (c) / 6.0*
6A: 5.8 (c)
6M: 13.7*




























Performance tested by: *C&D




AutoZine Rating

Mni One / Cooper


Mini Cooper S


Mini JCW



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