2015 MINI Cooper Sees Major Technology Changes
The 2015 MINI Cooper (F56) is set to be unveiled at MINI’s Oxford, UK factory in November, and it will feature some major technology changes. The biggest change for the 2015 MINI Cooper is probably under the bonnet (that’s the hood, by the way). Since its return to the U.S. market, the MINI Cooper and it varied variations have been powered a 1.6 liter four-cylinder, be it naturally aspirated, supercharged or turbocharged. (My favorite engine thus far is the supercharged 1.6 liter from the 2006 MINI Cooper GP.)
For 2015, the MINI Cooper will be powered, for the first time, by a 1.5 liter three-cylinder producing 134 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque. With the available overboost function, torque jumps to 170 pound-feet. At the heart of the 2015 MINI Cooper S is a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder with 189 horse and 207 pound-feet (221 pound-feet with overboost).
Both engines are sourced from MINI’s parent company, BMW, and the three-cylinder and four-cylinder powerplants get MINI’s new TwinPower turbochargers and direct injection. The main up side to the turbos are an increase in both power and fuel efficiency. More oomph, less gas. Give it a few months, and a higher performance John Cooper Works version will follow.
While many carmakers are adding more gears in an effort to improve efficiency, MINI is sticking with six-speeds across the board. However, new for 2015, MINI is adding a start-stop function as standard. If you decide to fork over the cash for a navigation system, MINI is borrowing BMW’s terrain sensitive shifting, which can anticipate an upcoming hill or bend and shift the auto trans accordingly. Cool.
Sharing within the clan-BMW seems to be the order of the day. Through the development of their new i-series cars, BMW a created a slew of lightweight technologies that will make their way onto the 2015 MINI Cooper. That means the F56 MINI will be lighter and more nimble than the previous two generations. That’s music to my ears, especially since there are some pretty serious improvements in the chassis department.
Optimized suspension, damping, steering and braking mean tighter corners, faster bends and quicker stopping. Combine those improvement with a wide track and wheels as far into the car’s corners as possible, and the twisties look more and more appealing. And, as another first, MINI is adding adjustable dampers to the 2015 MINI Cooper. While, I am officially opposed to too many electronic doo-dads that de-go-kart-ify MINIs, the 2015 looks to be a pretty fun car. For more info and details, check out the press release below.
Next Generation MINI Technology Press Release
- New generation of three and four-cylinder engines
- All-new chassis technology
- Passive safety, protection for passengers and pedestrians
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – September 30, 2013… The latest innovations in drivetrain, chassis and safety will see future MINI models build on their segment-leading position.
Since 1959, the unmistakable go-kart feeling has been at the heart of the British marque’s DNA. Today, every member of the MINI family has the combination of agile handling, exemplary efficiency, contemporary comfort and uncompromising safety. With the typical innovative strength expected from a premium manufacturer, MINI seeks to set standards for the future in developing vehicles and technologies that transform driving into a unique motoring experience.
A new generation of engines will once again optimize the balance between driving thrills and fuel consumption. Future MINI models will be the first to use both three and four-cylinder engines, not only covering a broader performance spectrum, but also setting new standards in terms of output, performance, comfort and reliability. The quality of the new engines is a direct result of the unique development expertise of the BMW Group in the area of drive technology. Thanks to the brand and model-specific design, they have performance characteristics synonymous with the MINI motoring experience.
The advances achieved by MINI in the area of drivetrain technology are characterized by the consistent further development of tried-and-tested design principles and the integration of innovative technology. MINI developers will continue to emphasize sporty, agile handling for all chassis variants.
In addition, MINI will introduce electrically adjustable dampers for the first time. The electric control of the damper valves will make it possible to vary the nature of responsiveness to uneven road surfaces. Two characteristic curves will be available for damper adjustment that can be activated at the flip of a switch. Depending on the driver’s preferences, a sporty drivetrain setting or something more balanced and comfortable can be selected.
The new generation of engines.
Maximum motoring fun and the most economical fuel consumption – a two-fold victory in terms of performance and efficiency has helped the latest MINI models to score top marks over their rivals in comparative tests regarding engine technology and driving performance. This is made possible by a new generation of engines and MINIMALISM technologies which will be available in all models as standard.
For the first time, the MINI models of the future will use both three and four-cylinder engines that not only cover an even broader range of performance, but also set new standards in terms of output, efficiency, comfort and reliability. Both brand and model-specific design ensures that they have performance characteristics typical of MINI.
More power and lower CO2 emissions thanks to MINI TwinPower turbo technology.
A common feature of the new drive units is the MINI TwinPower turbo technology, which optimizes both performance and efficiency. In the case of the petrol engines, this technology package includes turbocharging, direct fuel injection, variable camshaft control on the intake and outlet sides (dual VANOS) and, in the more powerful versions, fully variable valve control according to the model of the BMW Group’s patented VALVETRONIC system.
All-new engines were designed for the transverse configuration typical of the MINI and feature a compact and lightweight design. They also comply with exhaust standard EU6. The engines are equipped with an aluminum crankshaft in a closed-deck configuration. A forged steel crankshaft with integrated balancing shaft drive, weight-optimized piston and forged conrod contributes to the high level of performance within the engine through reduced frictional coefficients. The three-cylinder engines each have a countershaft to enhance smooth operation, while the four-cylinder model has two such shafts that counter-rotate. The cylinder head in all engine variants is made of aluminum. There are further similarities in terms of the layout of the ancillary units and the design of the map-regulated oil pump and the mechanically activated coolant pump. As the coolant pump supports both the generator and the climate compressor, the drive units have a more compact design.
For the market launch of the new drive generation, MINI is presenting a three-cylinder combustion engine that generates an output of 100 kW/134 bhp from a cubic capacity of 1.5 liters and a 141 kW/189 bhp variant of the newly developed four-cylinder combustion engine that has a cubic capacity of 2.0 liters.
A new generation of engines with typical MINI performance characteristics.
All of the new petrol engines feature spontaneous responsiveness, high torque characteristics and supreme power delivery. The 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine reaches its maximum torque of 220 newton meters at an engine speed of 1,250 rpm; this can be increased briefly to 230 newton meters by means of the overboost function. The 141 kW/189 bhp four-cylinder model actually achieves a torque of 280 newton meters with the same engine speed (300 Nm with overboost). The maximum speed of all new petrol engines is 6,500 rpm.
The engine’s sporty character is favored by the position of the turbocharger integrated in the exhaust manifold. The short path of the exhaust stream enables the charging system to be activated promptly and effectively. In addition, the emissions pattern of the engines is optimized by the positioning of the catalytic converter and an electronically regulated waste gate. An efficient and precisely dosed fuel supply system facilitates direct injection with centrally positioned injectors between the valves and directly next to the spark plugs. The electronic control for camshaft positioning and the stroke of the intake valves are further technological elements that optimize the responsiveness and the consumption and emissions readings of the new petrol engines for MINI.
Newly developed manual and automatic gearboxes will further contribute to the intense motoring pleasure that MINI has to offer, and will enhance the efficiency of the drive technology. The new manual gearboxes feature an innovative gear sensor which adapts the engine speed when shifting gears. This permits fast and sporty shifting with always the right engine speed available during gear shifts.
The automatic start-stop function can also be used in future MINI models in conjunction with the automatic gearbox, avoiding unnecessary fuel consumption when stopped at junctions or when caught in heavy traffic. For cars equipped with a navigation system, gear selection can be adapted to the current route. This way, the suitable gear is selected before reaching junctions or before cornering.
Thanks to the continued optimization in the areas of wheel suspension, spring system, damping, steering and braking, motoring is set to become even more enjoyable in future MINI models. In combination with the features so characteristic of any MINI, such as the vehicle’s low centre of gravity, wide track gauge, short overhangs, transverse engine, rigid bodywork and intelligent lightweight design, innovative solutions in the chassis area make for even more precise and sporty handling. The agility that characterizes all MINIs is also combined with further advances in the area of driving comfort. This is the first time that MINI is to offer electrically adjustable dampers that can be used to optimize sportiness and driving comfort.
Tried-and-tested construction principle, completely redeveloped components.
The complete redesign of the chassis for future MINI models continues to focus on the tried-and-tested structure of the single-link spring strut axle at the front, and the multi-link rear axle – unique among MINI’s competitors. It also includes component optimizations in terms of material choice and geometry. The dampers on the front and rear axles are uncoupled from the bodywork by means of complex struts. In combination with the reduction of the unsprung inertial masses, this makes it possible to increase both agility and driving comfort. Newly developed and aerodynamically optimised light alloy wheels are manufactured in a forging process requiring the use of less material.
In its latest incarnation, the front single-link spring strut axle features increased component rigidity. In combination with a modified axial kinematic movement, this creates ideal conditions for particularly agile manoeuvrability and steering control that is largely freed from the influence of the drive mechanism. The wider track gauge also makes a further contribution to optimizing sporty characteristics.
Consistency in lightweight design also influenced driving performance. The use of aluminum in the pivot bearing and high tensile steels in the front axle bearing and in the transverse rocker arms reduces the unsprung inertial masses. The innovative torque roll axial bearing enables both agility and comfort to be tangibly increased. This component consists of an engine and a transmission bearing that together absorb the weight of the engine and also support the torque in conjunction with the engine swivel support. The engine block is hydraulically attenuated, further enhancing the increase in comfort because this design prevents the engine from surging under the influence of uneven road surfaces.
By further developing the multi-link rear axle, MINI is building on its unique position in the competitive field. Key changes – wider track gauge, the use of high-strength steels and greater rigidity in the wheel suspension – take place in tandem with the modifications to the front axle. The spatial design of the rear axle also leads to improved entry comfort and to more space in the rear as well as a larger luggage compartment volume which is also easier to load.
More precise, more comfortable: electromechanical power steering.
The next generation of the EPS (Electronic Power Steering) used for MINI models offers speed-dependent support for the steering force. In the future it will take less steering force to operate this, while the system will also meet the requirements for the use of a parking assist function.
The further development of the steering system will promote agility, driving safety and comfort in equal measure. Thanks to the complex wheel suspension system, the steering ratio can be implemented very directly. Likewise, the optimization of the front axle has a direct impact on the steering, as it facilitates a sensitive steering style when negotiating bends in a sporty style. This effect is further enhanced by the use of so-called torque steer compensation. This torque steering compensation counteracts a tendency towards self-steering in powerful front-wheel drive vehicles due to differences in torque between the right and left front wheels. In the future, active rotational damping will provide for gentler and therefore more precisely controllable vehicle reactions in rapid evasion manoeuvres and when negotiating particularly sporty bends.
Advanced brake system for more comfort and security.
Another important contribution to motoring pleasure is derived from the improvements in the function and weight of the brake system, which is more closely tailored to the specific models. The new system impresses with its excellent durability with low unsprung inertial masses. This results in greater comfort, more precise dosability and a longer service life. The efficiency of the MINI can also be increased through targeted innovations in the brake system. Thus, optimized coatings help to reduce the residual braking momentum, thereby enhancing the vehicle’s rolling friction.
Excellent long-lasting properties are achieved through improved surface protection on the disc brake chamber and brake callipers. Another plus point is the optimization of the brake cooling system through refined brake protection plates and a redesigned brake cooling shaft.
A first for MINI: adjustable dampers.
In an effort to emphasize the MINI character even more, the spring and damper adjustment will be optimized. On the front axle, spring struts made of aluminum and steel and two-pipe compression dampers with coated pistons and a degressive damper characteristic curve are used. The support bearings on the front and rear axles will have three paths in future. The characteristic curves of the support bearing and additional springs have also been optimized on a functional basis, as have the helical springs installed on both axes. The stabilisers on the front and rear axles have holdings bearings and will have a tubular design, helping to reduce weight in the chassis area.
In addition, MINI will be introducing adjustable dampers for the first time. The electric control of the damper valves allows the characteristic response to uneven road surface to be varied. Two characteristic curves are available for adjusting the damper and these can be activated at the flip of a switch. The traction and compression level in the shock absorber can be adjusted by selecting the appropriate setting. Depending on the driver’s preferences, it is possible to choose either a sporty or a balanced, comfortable chassis. This means that it is possible to enjoy greater driving comfort in poor road conditions or a sporty driving style on an even road surface.
Passive safety, protection for passengers and pedestrians.
Premium vehicles by MINI hold an excellent position within their vehicle class not just in terms of motoring pleasure, but also in the area of passenger protection. In the event of a collision, precisely defined support structures and generously proportioned crumple zones help to protect the passenger cell while highly efficient restraint systems offer MINI passengers optimum protection in all types of crashes.
Top scores in international crash tests confirm the effectiveness of the overall concept for maximum passive safety, which is under continuous development for new models to ensure that the latest standards are met. In addition, innovative solutions in the area of pedestrian protection are also being developed for future MINI models, helping to reduce the risk of injury for other road users.
Reduced weight and increased safety thanks to intelligent lightweight construction.
The focus of developments in the body area is on structural improvements that have a positive influence on both driving features and crash performance. Intelligent lightweight construction enables MINI to combine the reduction of weight with an increase in rigidity and this promotes both agility and passenger protection. The use of second generation high-strength multi-phase steels plays a key role. Their excellent forming properties allow for much more complex structures than would be possible with conventional materials, while still permitting no compromise on strength. Parts that are of particular relevance to structural rigidity are made from micro-alloyed steels. In addition, hot-formed steels are used in the safety-related zones.
So-called tailored welded blanks and tailored rolled blanks also contribute to the optimization of weight. Welded and rolled sheet metal joints are widely used for the first time in cars from the small vehicle segment. The reinforcement of the B pillars with a coating of galvanised, hot-formed steel, which acts as a cathodic anti-corrosion finish, means that additional, weight-increasing measures could be dropped.
Despite the reduced weight, the intelligent mix of materials for the highly resilient support structures in the front and rear and in the roof and side frame. In the event of the vehicle rolling over, the reinforced pillars and roof supports secure the survival space of the passengers even more intensively than ever. Reinforced structures in the B pillar and sill area, high-strength side impact bars in the doors and stable seat braces will further minimize the degree of deformation and the speed of intrusion in the event of a side impact.
This concept establishes the right conditions for maintaining the passenger cell as a survival space in a wide variety of accident scenarios and forms the basis for the high level of effectiveness of the restraint systems. The integrated safety electronics ensure that the triggering of the airbag and belt systems is adapted to the type and severity of the accident. The coordinated interaction of all components ensures the best possible protection, irrespective of the position of the passengers at the time of impact.
Crumple elements on the front for extensive pedestrian protection.
The front section of future MINI models will have extra crumple elements. In addition to the yielding sections of the engine cover, a shock absorber between the bumper bracket and the cladding is intended to reduce the risk of injury. The pedestrian protection system will also be part of the standard equipment supplied with new MINI models.
MINI in the US
MINI is an independent brand of the BMW Group. In the United States, MINI USA operates as a business unit of BMW of North America, LLC, located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey and includes the marketing and sales organizations for the MINI brand. The MINI USA sales organization is represented in the U.S. through a network of 119 MINI passenger car dealers in 38 states. MINI USA began selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2002 with the introduction of the MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S Hardtops. Since then, the MINI Brand in the U.S. has grown to encompass a model range of seven unique vehicles.