- Published in Vehicle Development.
“Our goal was to extend the Mini’s ability – mainly through traction but also by utilising the greater wheel travel and giving the damper extra time and range to work. We wanted to give the original Mini feel of immediacy and connection, but with more comfort to suit the family market,” says Reyzl.
Here, four-wheel drive has no off-road pretentions. “Both cars are developed with the same sporty aim; ALL4 improves acceleration, driving confidence, steering ability and traction. It means the car does not approach the limit of wheelspin as fast, and also reduces understeer. You can use more of the engine power around a bend in this version.”
Because the ALL4 version is 65kg heavier, though, Reyzl says suspension settings are not identical to the 2WD version.
Engines are shared with the Mini hatchback. These are 1.6-litre Valvetronic gasoline, 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbo direct-injection gasoline, and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel that replaces the former bought-in PSA engine.
The in-house diesel is derived from the BMW M47 2-litre, but has been modified for transverse installation, and reduced in capacity to 1.6 litres. The dimensions caused some of the biggest challenges; the engine only just fits, and has to be installed on the production line from below. It is 3-4kg heavier.
Cooper S models use the TVDi 1.6-litre turbo. This has direct fuel injection and Valvetronic, and is a collection of technology only offered in one other car – the BMW 335i. The twin-scroll turbo allows valve overlap by ensuring there is no cross-cylinder charge interference. This improves torque and allows higher engine operating speeds.
The turbo has a 1.4bar absolute boost, and 1.6bar on overboost. “It’s only the gearbox department that impose this limit, for longevity,” says Hubloher. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no problem with more!” BMW produces the head in-house at Hams Hall in the UK; it also sells these assemblies back to PSA which lacks this production facility.
Mini will launch the Countryman in the autumn, by which time it hopes customers will accept the idea of the biggest Mini ever. Already, forward orders account for 50% of first-year production and the firm is confident it will provide the necessary extra Mini volume. The question is, will there also be a BMW variant using this bespoke platform and ALL4 system?