MINI engines now 3-in-1

HOW do you make a MINI One engine? Make a MINI Cooper engine and detune it. Simples.

It’s true, as well. All 1.6-litre MINI engines, be they in the First, the One or the Cooper, are now exactly the same. They’re built on the same line and have all the same bits inside.

A MINI engineer from UK build centre Hams Hall told me this is for production efficiency. By standardising all the parts, it actually works out cheaper than having bespoke variations for each version.

So, although a MINI First engine may thus seem more ‘valuable’ than a Cooper engine, it’s actually much more efficient for MINI and all its buyers alike to do it this way.

Besides, the intelligence is in the ECU mapping, anyway. Releasing the power in the Cooper is more than just switching a different number or two in a computer. That’s where your extra Cooper value comes in – knowing brains have been boffing-ing away in giving you the extra value, but in a driveable and linear way. You’re buying into someone’s IP.

It’s the two other versions that really benefit, though. See, the old MINI First and One had 1.4-litre engines. ‘People complained they lacked torque – with the 1.6-litre, we’ve filled in the gaps, but the longer gear ratios also mean it’s more efficient, too.’

Does beg one obvious question, though. How long will it be before Superchips-like companies offer a Cooper-creating First tuning kit for the MINI?

There’ll be distinct Porsche crossovers if they do: back-to-basics Cooper Club Sport, anyone?

+ MINI is not the only firm doing this – can you name any others?
+ How does MINI’s approach contrast with the downsizing trend?
+ Could future MINIs move back to smaller engines with turbo to fill the torque hole?