We've been doing some snooping around and got some skinny on the new MINI Cooper, due out in 2007.
First, if you want a truly international car, step right up. The new British-based MINI is going to feature an engine from the combined resources of German-based BMW and French-based Peugeot. And, of course, sold with gusto to an American enthusiast audience.
The engine is really the new MINI's biggest change, and it's going to be a big one, folks. The partnership is building a new range of all-aluminum, twin-cam engines that will become both carmakers' new small powerplant flagships, featuring improved horsepower, fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
The new MINI, which is being called MINI 2 by some, will maintain the four-cylinder 1.6-liter capacity, but with a higher-tech aluminum block that is much lighter than today's Chrysler-built iron-block Tritec engine.
The new engines for the next MINI haven't been finalized yet, but you can expect to see two turbocharged units that will replace the normally aspirated and supercharged four-cylinder 1.6-liter engines in the current MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S. The Cooper will get a major power boost to 143 hp from today's 115-hp engine. And, while the power output of the Cooper S stays the same at 170 hp, the turbocharged engine promises a big improvement in power delivery over the current supercharged setup.
Secondly, the next big thing is the body style. Just as we were getting used to seeing the MINI Convertible, along comes a longer-wheelbase version including (gasp!) a five-door with more rear legroom and cargo area.
The stretched MINI features a more upright rear hatchback, along with a pair of rear-hinged doors for easier access to the rear seats. (Remember “suicide doors?) The rumor is that the five-door arrangement will likely feature a Rolls-Royce electronic locking system that will allow the rear doors to open independently of the front ones—so if someone in the back wants to jump, he won't inconvenience the front–seat passengers.
Outside, a new front end will feature bug-eyed headlights and a more upright design to satisfy new European pedestrian-protection laws. (Apparently they're always running into pedestrians over there and something had to be done to facilitate their collision projection over the top of the bonnet so as to Minimize potential damage to the car.)
Inside, the interior will look new but still feature a centrally mounted speedometer. The dash will be available in wood trim as well as matching body color.
That's the skinny for now. Cheers!
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