New MINI rolled out for the European press

Scribes on the European side of the Atlantic were pounding the keyboards Thursday, eager to report on their test drives of a prototype of the MINI Mk2. The barely-disguised test car was wrung out by journalists at the ex-Formula 1 racetrack at Zandvoort in Holland, and first reports are encouraging, with phrases like "polish and precision," "greater civility," and "very quick" sprinkled through Autocar's test drive report.

The biggest change in the Mk2 is up front - the new MINI is powered by a 1.6-liter all-aluminum engine co-developed with Peugeot-Citroen, which in Cooper S trim features direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger, boosting output to 175 hp and 177 ft-lb of torque. (An overboost system yields 192 ft-lb of torque under wide-open acceleration.) The normally-aspirated version puts out 118 hp. What Car? is guesstimating a 0-60 time for the Cooper S of around 7 seconds.

(Full press release after the jump)

Power is delivered through a six-speed Getrag box, or an optional six-speed automatic. Paddle shifters will be optional.

While slightly longer, exterior changes to the Mk2 are fairly subtle. Interior changes, on the other hand, are much more extensive, with new seats, new controls and a generally higher level of fit and finish all around.

Other significant changes include electric power steering and much improved front-end ride, courtesy of the lighter engine and additional suspension travel.

Official Press Release

The new MINI.

Consistent Evolution.

Everything's new – and once again typical of MINI all the way: After more than 800,000 units sold, the MINI will soon be entering the market in thoroughly enhanced design and with fundamentally new features.

The second model generation of today's modern MINI is making its debut with brand-new power units, a carefully but thoroughly upgraded interior, and evolutionary body design with appropriate modifications wherever required. Indeed, all these innovations underline the individual character and premium standard of the MINI. And while each and every detail has been changed or modified, the new model naturally retains all the proven and unmistakable features of the MINI clearly recognisable at very first sight. This applies both to the silhouette of this compact two-door immediately recognisable from every angle and to the car's equally unique and agile driving characteristics. The power units and transmissions, suspension and steering, brakes and safety systems are all brand-new developments from the ground up. And all these features serve to give the new MINI that legendary go-kart feeling right from the start – but now with an even higher standard of agility than before. This, quite literally, is MINI at its best – both in design and handling.

The new MINI is entering the market in the guise of the MINI Cooper (88 kW/120 hp) and MINI Cooper S (128 kW/175 hp), with the MINI One "basic" version following somewhat later. And once again, the new MINI will also be available with a turbodiesel offering a particularly high standard of all-round economy in the drivetrain.

Two new petrol engines with innovative highlights in technology.

The new MINI Cooper and the new MINI Cooper S come with two four-cylinder petrol engines each displacing 1.6 litres. Both of these power units are the first representatives of a new range of engines boasting innovative features from the ground up. They each come with two overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder driven by a chain. The engine block and cylinder head, in turn, are cast out of a special aluminium alloy.

In terms of both power, performance and efficiency, these innovative drive units set new standards in the MINI segment, boasting many design features and technical details so far only to be found in higher segments of the market. A volume flow-controlled oil pump, for example, as well as a water pump switching off automatically when not required, serve to reduce fuel consumption to an even lower level than usual. And at the same time it almost goes without saying that the new power units comply in full with the strict Euro 4 emission standard.

The MINI Cooper features a normal-aspiration power unit developing maximum output of 88 kW/120 hp at 6,000 rpm and peak torque of 160 Nm/118 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm. The intake valves are controlled in a fully variable process by the BMW Group's absolutely unique VALVETRONIC technology, allowing the engine to breathe freely, without the usual restrictions imposed by a throttle butterfly.

Valve lift and opening times are masterminded by infinite electronic control adjusting to the driver's needs for power and performance. This highly efficient valve management combines superior fuel economy, a high standard of motoring culture, spontaneous response and optimised emission management, thus offering a new combination of qualities never seen before.

The even more powerful engine featured in the new MINI Cooper S is a turbocharged power unit with direct gasoline injection. Turbocharging is provided by an elaborately designed twin-scroll turbocharger fed with a separate flow of exhaust gas from two cylinders each. Benefiting from this configuration, the turbocharger cuts in right from the start at low engine speeds, almost completely eliminating the so-called "turbo gap" when accelerating.

Maximum torque of 240 Nm or 177 lb-ft comes at just 1,600 rpm, maximum output of this turbocharged four-cylinder is 128 kW/175 hp at 5,500 rpm. Apart from extremely high output per litre of approximately 110 hp, the combination of a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection also ensures superior fuel economy, a high standard of motoring culture, and very efficient emission control.

Evolution in exterior design, revolution in the cockpit.

The revised body design of the new MINI not only considers the even stricter safety standards to be observed in future, but also – with the car's dimensions increasing only slightly, for example with exterior length up by approximately 60 millimetres or 2.76´´ – accentuates the proportions and design features so typical of the MINI. As a result, the new MINI not only retains the proportions so typical of the car, but naturally also boasts characteristic features such as the hexagon grille, large headlights, the diagonal joint between the engine compartment lid and side direction indicators as a clear reminiscence to the welding seam on the classic Mini stretching out over exactly the same connection line in the past, and the upright rear light clusters.

From the side, the car is naturally still dominated by glazing all round the passenger cell, the extremely short body overhangs both front and rear, and the extra-large wheels, all of these features once again accentuating
the masculine "stance-on-the-wheels" character so typical of the MINI.

"Evolution on the exterior of the car is supplemented by revolution in the interior", states MINI's Chief Designer Gert Hildebrand. So reflecting the formula of offering "maximum car on minimum space", the interior of the new MINI looks even lighter than before, but is even more generous in its features. Moved far to the outside, the air vents accentuate the horizontal orientation of the dashboard and create a harmonious transition from the cockpit to
the door lining. Through its separate elements and dividing lines, the dashboard allows superior customisation with inserts more sporting, technical or elegant, depending on the colour and material chosen. And last but not least, the decal elements may be supplemented by up to 16 chrome-plated trim surrounds on the instruments and air vents themselves.

Now even larger than before, the Center Speedo, a genuine MINI icon in the cockpit, comprises all entertainment and, as an option, navigation functions over and above the analogue-face speedometer. Through its high, central position, the Center Speedo allows optimum ergonomic control by both the driver and front passenger, while the slender centre console ensures even more space and roominess within the footwells.

Metallic toggle switches again typical of MINI are featured not only in the centre console, but also as function switches to be found for the first time in the roof lining. The conventional ignition key, in turn, has been replaced by
an electronic signal transmitter enabling the driver to start the engine simply by pressing the Start/Stop button after having inserted the round chip sensor in the opening next to the steering wheel. Again, features of this calibre enhance the character of the interior cockpit to an even higher standard.

The new MINI is the consistent evolution of its highly successful predecessor. Both in design and in its driving characteristics, the new model takes up all the strengths and elements already boasted on the former MINI, using well-conceived modifications and demanding technology to give these features an even higher level of quality. And it virtually goes without saying that the new MINI fulfils all the high quality, technology and safety standards of the BMW Group as a whole, thus ranking supreme in its segment in every respect.

[Sources: What Car?, Autocar, 4Car, BMW]

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