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Preview: 2007 Mini

Despite what you might think form a first glance, the 2007 Mini shares very little with its immediate predecessor.

Despite what you might think form a first glance, the 2007 Mini shares very little with its immediate predecessor. The powertrain (engines and transmissions), suspension, steering, braking, and safety systems are new. The body is 2.76-in. longer and boasts a taller, longer hood for greater pedestrian impact protection, and the interior is wall-to-wall new while carrying over the basic design feel of the previous Mini. Stowage capacity is up, though no one will confuse the new car for a minivan until the station wagon model—which may use the Clubman name instead of the expected Traveler—arrives as a 2008.

At a Glance:

  • The clamshell hood remains, but the headlights and black plastic wheel arches are now separate from the hood in order to reduce repair costs.
  • Even though the supercharger is ditched in favor of a turbo; the hood scoop remains as a way to delineate the Cooper from the Cooper S.
  • Peugeot will build the 1.6-liter engines which feature a two-piece bedplate crankcase structure topped by an aluminum block. Both versions have a flow-controlled oil pump, on-demand water pump, composite (stainless steel cam rings shrunk onto the camshaft), and serpentine drive for the alternator and air conditioning compressor.
  • The turbo motor has a twin-scroll turbo and produces 175 hp. More importantly, BMW claims turbo lag is nearly eliminated, and the torque peak of 177 lb-ft stretches from 1,600 to 5,000 rpm. The base engine output is 120 hp @ 6,000 rpm, with 118 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm.
  • New gearboxes—six-speed manuals are standard on the Cooper and Cooper S while a six-speed automatic is an available option—are used, and the CVT gearbox has been eliminated.
  • Electric steering assist replaces the previous electro-hydraulic unit, and integrates with the Sport switch that changes automatic transmission shift speed, throttle response, and steering boost. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel can be used to switch gears manually on automatic-equipped cars. Hill Assist keeps manual-equipped cars from rolling backwards on hills.
  • MacPherson struts and equal-length driveshafts are used up front, though the design is new; the new rear suspension features an anti-roll bar, revised kinematics, and aluminum longitudinal arms. It weighs 20 lb. less than the previous design. Ride quality is reportedly improved, even though run-flat tires are still used.
  • Despite the increase in size and equipment, the new car is only 22 lb. heavier than before.
  • The Cd drops from 0.36 to 0.33, in part due to subtle blisters along the C-pillar that helps laminar flow remain attached and reduces turbulence behind the car.