Firstly the name – in the UK we know the MINI simply as a MINI – whereas in other markets the car is known as a MINI COOPER. Here in the UK the COOPER is a model of MINI as is the ONE and COOPER S. Basically the ONE / COOPER / COOPER S refers to the engine power (and therefore insurance group) in increasing order.
Essentially, there are three generations of MIN’s – with generations marked not in years, but in changes in the models – and in common with BMW’s nomenclature these are always a letter and 2 numbers as follows:
2002-2006 – R50 Hatchback Cooper
2005-2008 – R52 Convertible Cooper and Cooper S
2002-2006 – R53 Hatchback Cooper S
Engine wise there’s a standard tune 1.6 petrol, a supercharged 1.6 petrol and a turbocharged 1.4 diesel.
There were 3 main models – a 3 door hatchback (R50), a 3 door hatchback supercharged model (R53) and 2 door convertible (R52 which was offered with either petrol engine but not the diesel).
The 1.6 petrol engine was manufactured by Tritec Motors in Brazil and was used in various cars in addition to the MINI range – most notably Chrysler. The higher powered version used a ‘super charger- rather than a turbo to achieve the additional power. The diesel model (primarily for the European market) was again a bought in unit – this time from Toyota.
BMW chose to buy engines from other manufacturers for economic and engineering reasons. At this time BMW had never produced a front wheel drive car and the cost of designing, tooling up and building a drive train for this new MINI range would have taken significant time, carried significant cost and risk – after all BMW had no track record in building a premium
small car and whilst Audi with their A2 and Mercedes with their A Class offered small premium cars – this sector was very new and untried. In fact Audi pulled the plug on the A2 in 2005 after sustaining heavy losses whilst Mercedes pushed on with the A Class after some serious setbacks concerning stability.
A further consideration (or perhaps the main one) was BMW identified the USA as a viable market so choosing an engine that had already been approved in that market made enormous sense – hence the Tritec engine (the diesel was never offered in the USA and with petrol (or gasoline) costing 20% of the UK cost outright economy has never been a as big a concern as it has always been on the European side of the Atlantic.)
2008-2014 – R55 Clubman S & Non-S
2007-2013 – R56 Hatchback S & Non-S
2009-2015 – R57 Convertible S & Non-S
2012-2015 – R58 Coupe S & Non-S
2012-2015 – R59 Roadster S & Non-S
2011-2016 – R60 Countryman S & Non-S
2013-2016 – R61 Paceman S & Non-S
For the second generation of MINI, BMW knew they had a winning formula. They had created a new sector and want to ensure they stayed at the top. So whilst keeping the iconic MINI shape BMW wanted to up their game in economy, performance and safety. One might argue that they rested on their laurels with the first generation by not using the time to build a new drive train. Time to partner again.
Introduced in 2007 the totally re-engineered MINI shared no components with its predecessor. Engine wise BMW partnered with Groupe PSA (the owners of Peugeot and Citroën) to produce power plants. In petrol guise these are known as the ‘Prince’ engine and are in fact a successor of the Rover 214i engine of the 1980s. As for the diesels – the MINI range of this era shares its power plants with many Fords, Peugeot, Citroëns and Volvo’s being a high efficiency 4 cylinder turbo diesel in either 90BHP or 110 BHP guise – at least until the facelift in 2010 onwards when BMW started to use their own diesel engines (see below)..
This time around BMW vastly increased the range of available models, each available with petrol, petrol turbo and diesel turbo engines.
MINI R56 hatchback
The most common of the second generation shapes – the 3 door hatchback; the iconic MINI shape. This model ran from 2007 to 2013 and as of August 2010 onwards had a ‘mid-life’ facelift with a number of under-the-skin changes – mainly they started using BMW sourced engines for the diesel cars. This facelife was know as LCI (life cycle Impulse) so you may hear the terms ‘pre LCI’ and ‘Post LCI’.
The R56 hatchback was available in all trims:
Launched in 2009, a budget lower powered (75 bhp) petrol with the aim of attracting lower insurance premiums mainly for younger or inexperienced drivers.
Mostly these cars had very few frills – i.e. no alloys or aircon in most cases. That said I have seen some highly spec’d Firsts – one with leather, 17 inch wheels and a John Cooper Works body kit so they are around.
One / One D
A low insurance model with a 95 bhp 1.4 petrol engine or 1.6 petrol with 98bhp. A diesel ‘One D’ came with a detuned 90bhp motor, down from 110bhp in the standard ‘Cooper’. It is entirely possibly to have a MINI One with big wheels and body kits and lots of toys – but with a lower power engine. For most model years the ‘Salt’ pack was included with the One and depending on which model year made a big difference to the included kit – for example AirCon was not standard until 2009.
Cooper / Cooper D
Perhaps the mainstay of the MINI range . In Petrol guise ustilising a 120BHP 1.6-litre ‘Prince’ engine incorporating BMW’s Valvetronic infinitely variable valve lift, developed on and with Peugeot’s core engine petrol engine and in diesel guise using the 110bhp PSA DV6 1560cc engine also found in Peugeots, Citroëns, Volvos and Fords.
The Pepper Pack as standard – but as always what you got in this pack depended on the model year.
The Post-LCI diesel uses a BMW sourced 1596cc engine also found some BMW models.
For most model years the Cooper S came with the Chili pack as standard, as did bigger wheels and so on. This model was the turbo charged 1.6 petrol engine producing 175 BHP. This engines uses a new twin scroll turbocharger and in the interests of efficiency, and has direct injection; consequently, this engine version does not have Valvetronic. This engine also has an “overboost” function which temporarily raises the torque 15 lbf⋅ft under hard acceleration. As a result 0-60 mph is reached in 6.7 seconds) and top speed is 140 mph.
From January 2011 the BMW 2.0 litre diesel engine was added to the range offering 143bhp , a 0-60 time of 8.7 seconds whilst somehow attracting only £30 per annum road tax.
John Cooper Works
These cars high spec, high powered cars had 1.6-litre petrol twin-scroll turbocharged engine that produces 208 hp at 6,000 rpm, along with 193 lb⋅ft of torque. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is claimed at 6.1 seconds.
MINI R55 Clubman estate
Produced from 2008 to 2014 the MINI Clubman was available in Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and Cooper D trims.
Identical to the 3-door hatchback from the B-pillar forward, the Clubman features a length increased by 240 mm, an 80 mm longer wheelbase, increased rear-seat leg room and cargo space deeper by 160 mm providing an increased 260 litres of space.
The Clubman has 2 rear ‘barn doors’ for access to the boot whist access to the rear seats is via a single ‘suicide’ door on the right hand side. The other side (LHS) has a single door with access to the rear seats by way of a folding seat just like the 3 door hatch. Some controversy followed the launch in right hand drive markets as the decision to have the rear access door on the right hand side would mean removing your child on the road side rather than the more sensible footpath side assuming of course you park left hand side to the kirb.
Convertible – R57 (2009 – 2015)
The second generation model follows in the same footsteps as the R52 but with some key improvements mostly shared with the rest of the second gen MINI – although with the convertible there were many improvements to the cars rigidity, refinement and hood mechanisms. Initially launched in petrol guise only (1.6 Cooper and Cooper S) a Cooper D model followed in 2010 along with the One trim.
Coupé – R58 (2011 to 2015)
The Coupé which went on sale in the UK from 1 October 2011 is based on the MINI Convertible, but with only two seats allowing a bigger boot of 280 litres The Coupé’s windscreen is angled rearwards by 13 degrees more than in the cabrio’s and the roof is 29 mm (1.1 inches) lower than standard MINI Hatch. The rear spoiler rises at speeds above 50 mph.
The range of the Coupé follows a similar pattern to other MINI models; featuring Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD and the range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW). The JCW version accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph thanks to a turbocharged 208 bhp 1,598 cc four-cylinder.
The Cooper SD is a 2.0 litre turbo diesel producing 141 bhp are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox with the option of automatic on all but the JCW.
Roadster – R59 (2012 – 2015)
The MINI Roadster is the convertible version of the Coupé.
The range of models and engines mirrors the MINI Coupé with a range of 1.6 L petrol engines in various levels of power and a 2.0 L diesel engine .
Having 2 convertibles in the range may lead to confusion- but this one is a pure 2 seater whereas the other one pretends to be a 4 seater. So this, like the Coupé is more of a drivers car than a passenger one.
Engines and trim are the same as the Coupé with Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD and the range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW)
Countryman – R60 (2010 to 2017)
The Countryman went on sale in the UK on 18 September 2010 and is MINIs first five-door crossover. It opened MINI ownership to people with 2.4 children and a dog.
All of the petrol engine used in the MINI Countryman are 1.6-litre units and come in 98, 122 and turbocharged 184bhp forms. The turbo engine belongs to the Cooper S model and covers off 0-62mph in just 7.6 seconds in front-wheel drive, manual gearbox form. The John Cooper Works model arrived in September 2012 and has a 218bhp version of the Cooper S’s 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine to deliver 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds and a top speed of 140mph so if your 2.4 children aren’t sick then your dog certainly will be.
The MINI Countryman One D has a 1.6-litre, 90bhp turbodiesel engine that drives the front wheels.
The 112bhp version of the Cooper D is a better bet as it offers 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and much more mid-rev muscle. However, the best diesel is the 2.0-litre SD motor with 143bhp.
To top the range there is an ALL4 all-wheel-drive variant for those who want a matchbox Range Rover.
Paceman – R61 (2012 – 2016).
The MINI Paceman is a Coupé version of the Countryman.
2016-Now – F54 Clubman S & Non S
2015-Now – F55 5 door Hatchback S & Non-S
2014-Now – F56 Hatchback S & Non-S
2016-Now – F57 Convertible S & Non-S
2017-Now – F60 Countryman S & Non-S
Models of MINI Cooper Generations – Gen 3
For the latest models of Mini Cooper sales started in early 2014 and was a larger car in all dimensions than the outgoing model. Available with a 6-speed manual or a 8-speed automatic gearbox.
At launch the engines available were as follows:
- 1.2 litre 3 cylinder petrol with 75 BHP / 55kW
- 1.2 litre 3 cylinder petrol with 102 BHP / 75 kW
- 1.5 litre 3 cylinder petrol with 136 BHP / 100 kW
These are incarnations of the BMW B38 engine featuring direct injection, variable valve timing and a turbocharger. These engines also appear in a number of BMW models.
- 2.0 litre 4 cylinder petrol.
This is the BMW B48 engine used here in the Cooper S model but also found in many mainstream BMW models.
- 1.5 litre 3 cylinder diesel with 95 BHP
- 1.5 litre 3 cylinder diesel with 116 BHP
For the Cooper D this is the BMW B37 turbo diesel engine shared with a number of BMW models
- 2.0 litre 4 cylinder diesel.
For the Cooper SD this is the ubiquitous B47 BMW engine found in millions of BMWs including the 1, 2,3,4 and 5 series models to name a few.
Just in case you are wondering what TwinPower is…. This is can be confusing because BMW have pioneered engines with two turbos and sometimes three for some time now. If you see the words TwinPower Turbo on your engine this does not mean you have two turbos – its a single turbo known as a ‘twin scroll’ turbocharger.
‘Normal’ turbos use the exhaust gasses to power a fan that in turn drives a second fan to suck air into the engine. The TwinPower Turbo (also called twin scroll turbo) is a single turbo powered from pairs of cylinders in an alternating sequence from two exhaust down tubes which gives a smoother power delivery. In English it’s just a ‘more betterer turbo’…
For the first time you can have an the ZF 8 speed automatic gearbox in your MINI. Auto boxes have come a long way in recent years and this one is perhaps the best there is – and found in many luxury cars from Alfa Romeo to Rolls Royce to Volkswagen.
Most automatic gearboxes use an oil bath (or fluid coupling) to transmit power. This means that historically auto ‘boxes have been less economical as well as slower than their manual counterparts. This is where this ZF unit scores; with faster shift times and more ratio, cars fitted with this gearbox accelerate faster and are more economical than their manual equivalents (on paper at least).
One might think that 8 ratios are too many and unwieldy – but in practice you simply select ‘drive’ and let the gearbox do the work. The fact is you never really know what gear you are in and frankly it doesn’t matter.
The very latest automatic gearboxes are different again – now they are a 7 speed ‘Steptronic transmission with double clutch Transmission’ – similar to the VW/Audi DSG gearbox.
2016 to Now – F54 Clubman
The latest Clubman is based on BMW’s UKL2 platform (shared with the BMW 2 Series, BMW X1 and BMW X2) and is a ‘proper’ sized family car capable of hauling your kid to University with all that they (and some of what you) own.
All engines are turbocharged and perhaps the best engine / gearbox combination is the 2 litre diesel with the excellent 8 speed auto found in many other BMW models. In this guise the car is superbly quiet, refined and economical but also quick when the mood takes you.
The model variants follow a familiar theme:
- Clubman One – 1.5 Petrol (100 bhp)
- Clubman Cooper 1.5 Petrol turbo (134 bhp)
- Clubman Cooper S 2.0 litre Petrol turbo (189 bhp)
- Clubman John Cooper Works 2.0 Litre Petrol Turbo (227 bhp)
- Clubman One D – 1.5 Diesel Turbo (114 bhp)
- Clubman Cooper D – 2.0 Litre Diesel Turbo (147 bhp)
- Clubman Cooper SD 2.0 Litre Diesel Turbo (187 Bhp)
2015-Now – F55 four door hatchback
Much has been made of this first ever 5 door MINI and in truth this is the first time a MINI can be properly compared to a 5 door VW Golf, Audi A3, Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. That said it is smaller than any of these competitors – the clue is in the name.
Despite the increased size, it’s still recognisably MINI with a familiar shape to the grille, headlights, ‘floating roof’ and rear lights – although those are much wider than previous versions.
The engine and gearbox lineup is identical to the Clubman above.
2014-Now – F56 three door hatchback
The three door MINI is perhaps the cornerstone of the range – whilst many people want this little car because of its iconic shape an looks they often buy a larger version that echos this model.
In every way this is a modern incarnation of the original 1959 MINI – though it probably won’t break down, has creature comforts like power steering, aircon and bluetooth and you won’t feel like you have travelled in an egg whisk after a 200 mile journey. So actually it’s not like the original at all – except it looks similar.
Maybe that’s a little unfair. In 1.5 petrol or diesel form this is a superb city car, nippy, easy to park and fun to drive – furthermore it is very capable on the motorway.
The 2.0 litre will thrill you when you want speed and in diesel form will impress you at the pumps as well as your annual road tax bill of only £30 per year.
In Cooper S and John Cooper Works forms you will have all the thrills you can handle – right up to the point where you lose your driving licence.
2016-Now – F57 Convertible
No small car line up would be complete without a convertible and the MINI is no exception.
A convertible is not really an entry level car and so this model is only available in Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper S and the high performance John Cooper Works engine options.
Trim wise – on all models includes a colour touchscreen infotainment display with Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, keyless start.
As a convertible this car is the real deal – some competitors try and compete with what is really a large sunroof – but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a 4 seater – unless some of the passengers are smaller than average that is.
2017-Now – F60 Countryman
When is a MINI not a MINI? Perhaps when it’s Countryman. The ‘MINI’ countryman is a good car – but mini it is not. The new Countryman has grown 200 mm in length as well as being taller and wider than its predecessor – which was not really very ‘mini’ either.
That said it is a decent family car. The loadspace volume is some 100 litres larger than before and includes a Range Rover -esk ‘picnic bench’ which folds out to provide a padded cushion to sit on when removing your wellies.
As in the other third generation cars all engines are all turbo charged and in petrol form include a 1.5 litre, 136 bhp, three-cylinder and a Cooper S 2.0-litre, 192hp turbocharged four cylinder petrol. In diesel form a 2.0 litre unit with 147 bhp in standard guise and a 190 bhp SD.
There’s also MINI’s first ever plug-in hybrid model, the ‘Cooper S E Countryman ALL4’, which combines the 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor power to deliver range-topping performance of 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, while apparently achieving 134.5 mpg (which is a con). Why? Because like many hybrids the car can complete the EURO regulated fuel consumption tests on a fully charged battery using almost no petrol. In the real world expect mid 40s average mpg if you are careful. On long motorway journeys however you simply have a heavy 1.5 litre petrol when compared to the non-hybrid versions. This then is a good car to cheat the congestion charge whilst actually not reducing emissions in any real sense. On the other hand having electric as well as petrol power makes this the ‘sensible’ performance car of the Countryman range.
Hybrids are improving but are still only good in paper – in the real world if you want economy then diesels are still your the best option (until we improve battery technology at least) and with these modern diesel engines cars achieving EURO6 compliance they are as clean as an internal combustion engine can be.
Summary of Mini Cooper Generations – by The Mini Specialist