Mini’s Coupe: enhanced dynamics for two

  • 18-Jul-2011 04:08 EDT
MINI6-11 Coupe 1.jpg

The Mini Coupe, in 155-kW John Cooper Works form, has a 240-km/h top speed.

Engineering and design variations of the classic British Motor Corp./British Leyland Mini and BMW-owned Mini have been many and varied over the years, but the new Coupe marks the first two-seat volume production model in the brand’s history and the first of its modern models to technically adopt a three-box (despite having a tailgate) body structure (engine compartment, cabin, trunk). A roadster version is in the pipeline.

In the 1960s, the original Mini was also built in a  three-box configuration with a small, protuding trunk and badge-engineered to sell with higher specification interior trim as the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf. Almost 60,000 were manufactured. Marcos used Mini mechanicals as the basis of a very low volume coupe that appeared in 1965.

The new Mini Coupe is based on the Mini Cabriolet—to give required torsional stiffness. But, it is 75 kg (165 lb) lighter and puts emphasis on dynamics. It sits 29 mm (1.1 in) lower than the regular hatch.

Its most distinctive styling element is a helmet-like aluminum roof with oval recesses in its headlining to maximize interior headroom. The A-pillars are raked by an additional 13° to improve aerodynamics, and the roof’s trailing edge carries a fixed spoiler, while a second, deployable spoiler is positioned on the trunk lid to reduce lift over the rear axle and improve aerodynamic balance. It activates at 50 mph (80 km/h).

The little Coupe is available with a choice of power units that give it serious performance and the need for effective aerodynamics and downforce. The ultimate version is the John Cooper Works (JCW) with 155 kW (209 hp) at 6000 rpm from 1.6 liters and performance figures including a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) dash in 6.4 s and a 240-km/h (149-mph) top speed.

For a combination of performance and environmental responsibility, it is the 2.0-L turbodiesel that is most impressive, delivering 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) from 1750 to 2700 rpm, 105-kW (141 hp) output at 4000 rpm, a 0-100 km/h time of 7.9 s, and top speed of 216 km/h (134 mph). Allied to this is a combined fuel consumption of 4.3 L/100 km and CO2 emissions of only 114 g/km.

All Mini four-cylinder gasoline engines use BMW’s Valvetronic technology. Transmission is six-speed manual as standard, and a six-speed auto is optional on all but the JCW. With a ready-to-drive mass of 44.8 kg (98.8 lb), the manual is claimed to be the lightest of its kind on the market.

Brake energy regeneration, auto stop-start, speed-dependent electromechanical power steering, and need-based operation of ancillary components are fitted across the Coupe range. And thermal encapsulation of the drivetrain is used to help reduce engine cold start warm-up time to further reduce fuel consumption and emissions. All Coupes also get a Sport button to sharpen accelerator mapping.

Suspension for the Coupe is multilink rear, MacPherson strut front, with springs, dampers, and anti-roll bar stiffer than those of the hatch. A still stiffer Sport suspension is offered, while the JCW version sees the suspension lowered 10 mm (0.4 in) with ultrafirm damping, upgraded anti-roll bars, and 17-in weight-optimized alloy wheels. The JCW Coupe has 316 mm (12.4 in) vented front brakes.

Apart from the height, dimensions are almost identical to the hatch, but weight distribution is slightly more front-biased.

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