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First look: All-new Mini stretched in all directions

Ground up: BMW’s new three-cylinder engines make their Mini debut in the new generation due in Australia about March.

Mini unveils bigger third-generation Mini on BMW’s new front-drive platform


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19 Nov 2013

MINI’S new-generation hatchback is all grown up, with a bigger body, more technology and a fresh range of BMW-sourced engines that include a pair of punchy turbocharged three-cylinders in diesel and petrol.

Revealed to the media overnight in Britain ahead of dual public unveilings at the Tokyo and Los Angeles motor shows this week, the new ground-up design is 98mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller than the current model.

But the German-owned British company promises that the legendary go-kart handling of the little three-door hatch will not only be retained but intensified, thanks to a bigger footprint and a revised suspension with reduced unsprung weight.

The new, more spacious Mini – the third generation of the modern Mini dynasty that revived the classic name and iconic shape in 2002 – will be launched in Australia about March next year in its traditional hatchback Cooper and Cooper S lines, with myriad other variants such as Cabrio, Clubman and Roadster to follow.

While the new design is unmistakably Mini, remaining faithful to core elements of the original Morris Mini designed by Sir Alex Issigonis in the 1950s, virtually the whole car is new, sitting on BMW’s new ‘UKL’ small-car platform that is set to spawn a wave of front-drive vehicles such as the upcoming Compact Active Tourer.

To go with the new body, three new powertrains have been seconded from BMW’s engineering shops for the three models available from launch – Mini Cooper, Cooper D and Cooper S.

In place of the current 1.6-litre four-cylinder, the Mini Cooper gets a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder pushing out 100kW of power at 4500rpm – up 10kW – and 220Nm of torque from 1250rpm – up a substantial 60Nm over the previous Peugeot-sourced unit.

The new diesel Cooper D also gets a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with turbo, producing 85kW – up 3kW on the current 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel – while retaining the same 270Nm of torque.

The range-topping – for now – Mini Cooper S gets BMW’s TwinPower direct-injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 141kW at 4700rpm and 280Nm from 1250rpm (300Nm with turbo overboost).

There is plenty of scope for more powerful Mini variants – such as the anticipated John Cooper Works (JCW) Cooper S – as BMW’s 328i already cranks out 180kW.

Along with new engines, all Minis get new six-speed transmissions in manual or optional automatic forms.

All three new Mini models are swifter than their predecessors, with the Cooper S dashing from zero to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds – more than a full second faster than before.

Despite their smaller capacity, the three-cylinder models are also quicker to 100km/h, with the Cooper doing the dash in 7.9 seconds (down 1.2 seconds) and the Cooper D covering the sprint in 9.2 seconds – half a second faster.

Fuel consumption has been cut by up to 27 per cent, thanks to efficiency gains such as weight optimisation and improved aerodynamics via a 0.28Cd.

The Euro 6 diesel Cooper D sucks just 3.5 litres per 100km on the European combined test cycle, while emitting just 92 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

The petrol Cooper manages 3.5L/100km and 105g/km, while the Cooper S does 5.7L/100km and 133g/km.

New selectable driving modes can also aid fuel economy, with a Green mode alongside Mid (the default mode) and Sport.

These modes not only influence the accelerator curve and steering and automatic transmission shift points, but also the engine acoustics and ambient lighting. In the Cooper S, the Sport model also can adjust the dynamic damper control where fitted.

Mini says the wheelbase has been extended by 28mm to 2495mm, while track width has been stretched 42mm at the front and 34mm at the rear, to 1501mm in both cases.

The Cooper S is set apart from its more mundane siblings with a honeycomb radiator grille, a bonnet scoop brake air ducts and a rear apron incorporating the dual exhaust pipes. It also gets 16-inch alloy wheels in place of the standard 15-inch alloys on the Cooper.

The electric-assisted power steering has been given a renovation, and now incorporates electronics to counter the understeer characteristic of such front-drive high-performance cars.

Mini is claiming a first in class with an LED headlight option, and all within the traditional circular headlight shape.

The new interior boasts seats that are longer in the squab for greater comfort, and a new instrument cluster that arranges the speedo, tacho and other dials vertically.

Keyless start does away with key insertion, while the rear seat backrest is not only 60:40 split fold but also can be tilted.

The Mini can be equipped with a raft of new electronic systems, ranging from head-up displays to internet radio.

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