Before we see the third generation, 2014 Mini Cooper, we got a peek under the hood at the new powertrains and some of the other hardware that will power the next Mini hardtop. The 2014 Mini Cooper is built on a new front-wheel-drive platform that will also underpin a new generation of small, front-wheel-drive BMWs. It’s no surprise, then, that the brand is switching from four-cylinder engines shared with Peugeot to BMW-based powerplants. The biggest change in architecture concerns the engine in the base 2014 Mini Cooper, which switches from a normally aspirated four-cylinder to a turbocharged three-cylinder. The three-cylinder’s 1.5-liter displacement is exactly 75 percent of the 2.0-liter turbo four in the 2014 Mini Cooper S. Both engines have an iron block and an aluminum head, use direct injection, and employ BMW’s dual VANOS variable camshaft timing.
For the 2014 Mini Cooper, engine output jumps despite the loss of one cylinder. Whereas the outgoing 1.6-liter unit musters 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque, the turbo three-cylinder is good for 134 hp and 162 lb-ft. The latter comes on much lower in the rev range, with peak torque at 1250 versus 4250 rpm.
The 2014 Mini Cooper S, meanwhile, migrates from its current 1.6-liter unit to a 2.0-liter that sees output increase slightly, from 181 hp to 189 hp. Torque climbs from 177 to 207 lb-ft. (Ratings the more highly tuned John Cooper Works version are not yet available.) Both the Cooper and Cooper S engines will get standard auto stop/start to aid fuel economy, although we don’t have EPA figures yet.
The 2014 Mini Cooper transmissions are essentially carryover: a 6-speed Getrag manual and a 6-speed automatic by Aisin. The automatic’s new trick is that it can tap the brains of the navigation system. With a route selected, the nav system can inform the transmission when the car is about to turn at an intersection, for example, so the gearbox can downshift in preparation.
The chassis again uses a damper strut front suspension and a multi-link rear setup. For the first time, however, Mini will offer adjustable dampers; the optional system will have normal and sport modes. Electric power steering returns, and adds torque-steer compensation.
Further news of the 2014 Mini Cooper will have to wait until November. That’s when the new car will have its official unveiling, in Oxford, England, on the 18th, the birthday of Alex Issigonis, father of the original Mini. The car will make its debut in the United States (the brand’s biggest market) two days later, at the L.A. auto show, before it arrives in showrooms next spring. Until then, take a look at the Mini Vision Concept images in the gallery below.