News : Larger, lighter, faster MINI F56 breaks cover
MINI has unveiled its all-new, fourth-generation hatchback in Cooper and Cooper S form and both versions are scheduled to go on sale early in 2014. The new car is available with two modular TwinPower Turbo Technology Valvetronic petrol engines in 1.5-litre three-cylinder and 2.0-litre four-cylinder forms and a three-cylinder 1.5-litre diesel. The new car is longer, wider, faster and cleaner than before – and, most importantly, it’s also lighter.
The new car, which was codenamed F56 during development, sits on the new UKL1 platform, which will also feature in a number of MINI and BMW variants – BMW hopes that its front-wheel drive output will be seriously boosted by the arrival of the new family. The F56 carries over many of the outgoing car’s styling features, such as its floating roof and hexagonal radiator grille (no longer split in two horizontally), but moves on in several key areas. The front overhang has been increased in length and the windscreen now set a shallower angle, blending in to narrower side windows. At the rear, larger tail lights have grown to cut into the tailgate, Paceman style.
The flanks are much more sculpted than before, too, giving the new MINI a much more solid look. It’s most defining feature is probably the new headlamp design, which incorporates ring-style daytime running first shown on the Rocketman Concept. Adaptive LED headlamps are also optionally available.
The MINI is increased in just about all dimensions – it’s 98mm longer, 44mm wider, 7mm higher and the wheelbase has been lengthened by 28mm. MINI claims the interior is more accommodating as a consequence, with increased legroom front and – more importantly – in the rear. Just as usefully, the boot is now 51 litres larger, with a total capacity of 211 litres, and the rear backrest now has a 60:40 split, rather than 50:50 as before. The new model is also vastly more aerodynamic, with a coefficient of 0.28, compared wth the brick-like 0.35 of before.
The new engines are a major step forward from the existing four-cylinder power units. They’ll continue to be made at MINI’s factory at Hams Hall in Birmingham, but now come in two different cylinder formations. The entry-level Cooper model develops 136bhp from its new three-cylinder petrol, while the Cooper S is powered by a 192bhp four-cylinder. The new Cooper D is now a 116bhp three-cylinder – all models feature a six-speed manual transmission, with an optional six-speed automatic.
They’re all fitted with MINIMALISM technology which comes with start/stop function and optional GREEN mode. Performance and fuel consumption figures are very impressive – the Cooper D accelerates from 0–62mph in 9.2 seconds and the maximum speed is 127mph. Combined fuel consumption is 80.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are now down to 92-95g/km, thus passing the Euro6 standard. The petrol Cooper’s numbers are 7.9 seconds, 130mph, 62.7mpg and 105-107g/km – and the range-topping Cooper S’s numbers are 6.8 seconds, 147mph, 49.6mpg and 133-136g/km.
MINI promises that the F56 will be the best-handling and most agile model yet. As well as being lighter, the new MINI has a more rigid body and its suspension set-up has been substantially revised. The suspension components are made of high-strength steel – and the new multilink rear end is lighter and takes up less space than the old Z-axle. Steering is now by Servotronic and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) are all standard. The MINI Cooper S also includes Performance Control; new spring and damper set-up with triple-path support bearings. Dynamic Damper Control optionally available for the first time in a MINI.
New features and equipment include the MINI Head-Up Display, Emergency Call and the MINI Connected XL Journey Mate with Real Time Traffic Information, as well as a new display, which retains the look and feel of the old car, while dropping the centrally-mounted speedometer, which according to internal research, few owners actually used anyway. That oversized central speedo now houses an up to 8.8-inch screen which is integrated with the iDrive-like MINI Controller in the centre console.
Smartphone users will get all the toys now expected from a new car – so MINI Connected comes with a SIM card, which can now be permanently installed in the car. This is used to establish the ‘phone connections required for the use of the optional functions Emergency Call and MINI Teleservices. MINI telematics is an interesting feature, whereby the car can now communicate with the dealer in order to send usage data about the car, thereby informing the garage of any impending problems. It can also be used to arrange a service.
There are new MINI Driving Modes which allow an individual set-up involving not just the characteristic curve of the accelerator and steering but also engine acoustics and, in the MINI Cooper S – where the relevant features are fitted – ambient lighting, the shift times of the automatic transmission and the characteristics of Dynamic Damper Control – the latter system being optionally available for the first time. The modes SPORT and GREEN can be activated in addition to the standard MID mode. In conjunction with an automatic transmission, the efficiency-oriented GREEN mode also features a coasting function with decoupled drivetrain – freewheeling to classic Rover fans…
The new MINI goes on sale early in 2014 and confirmed prices are £15,300 for the Cooper, £16,450 for the Cooper D, and the Cooper S £18,650. This is a 2% rise over the outgoing models and it leaves a vacuum at the bottom of the range to be filled by the MINI One, which follows later in 2014.