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Mini brand to get turbo three-cylinder engine

Mon, 30 Sep 2013

BMW confirmed the Mini brand will also get BMW's new, turbo three-cylinder engine in upcoming models to be named later as part of a new family of engines for both brands that also includes an all-new four-cylinder.

The company won't say which future models get the new three-cylinder other than the already announced BMW i8 plug-in hybrid. It arrives in the spring of 2014. The three-cylinder's job in the BMW i8 is to serve as the gasoline half of the gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain.

In a Mini, the turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder presumably would be powerful enough to power the car all by itself. The Mini lineup is due for a redesign next year. Mini's main model, the Mini Hardtop, is in its seventh year since the current generation was introduced.

As previously reported in Autoweek, BMW last year unveiled its new UKL small-car platform, starting with the BMW Concept Active Tourer.

The concept car is a plug-in hybrid with a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine, so it's safe to say the platform accommodates the three-cylinder. The platform could be about the right dimensions for a Mini.

According to the company, the three-cylinder Mini engine will generate 134 hp. Peak torque of 162 lb-ft is reached at only 1,250 rpm. The new, 2.0-liter four-cylinder will generate 189 hp. Peak torque is 207 lb-ft. Both new engines have direct injection.

For cars with an automatic transmission, BMW said the new Mini engines “can be used” with a fuel-saving start-stop feature, which shuts the engine off when stopped at a red light or in heavy traffic. European models already have stop-start, so it's a good bet it will be introduced here, too.

In a first for Mini, the next product generation will also have electronically adjustable dampers, so the driver can select a stiffer or softer ride.

By Jim Henry