The F56 chassis 2014 MINI Cooper Hatch made its world debut at the 100 year-old Oxford manufacturing facility. The new model is based on a new UKL1 front-drive platform shared with FWD BMW models and is expected to underpin several other MINI models as well.
The new F56 has been stretched from its predecessor featuring a 28mm longer wheelbase, exterior dimensions 3,821mm long (Cooper S - 3,850mm), 1,727mm wide, and 1,414mm tall. This makes it 98mm longer, 44mm wide, and 7mm taller than the outgoing R56. Track width has also been increase by 42mm up front and 34mm at the back. The exterior design is retains the unmistakable classic MINI look with modern touches like LED daytime running lights on the headlamp rings, optional LED headlights, LED taillights.
The larger exterior also means bigger space inside as it now gives more room for passengers and their luggage. The front seats now have 23mm more adjustment range for better flexibility and easier access for rear passengers to the back. The luggage area receives a generous 30% more space.
A new display and operating concept highlights the interior design changes, a modern instrument cluster features speed, revs and fuel level displayed on vertically arranged circular dials. The speedometer scale also includes a color panel for messages and vehicle status displays.
The iconic central instrument now has extended functionality. Depending on the optional equipment chosen, it can serve as a four-line TFT display as standard or optional color screen up to 8.8-inches showing vehicle functions, infotainment, navigation and MINI Connected services. Selection of these functions is performed via a choice of two new controllers, the MINI Controller or MINI Touch Controller, fitted in the center console which come with MINI Visual Boost Radio or the MINI Navigation System.
Under the hood of the new F56 will be three new engine options; a gas-fed 1.5-liter 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo (136 PS @ 4500-6000 rpm and 220 Nm @ 1250-4000 rpm) for the Cooper, a diesel-fed 1.5-liter 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo (115PS @ 4000 rpm and 270 Nm @ 1750 rpm) for the Cooper D, and a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder TwinPower Turbo (191 PS @ 4700-6000 rpm and 280 Nm @ 1250-4750 rpm) for the Coooper S. The gas-fed engines get an overboost function which gives a slight bump in torque. The engines can be mounted to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic, both of which are newly developed and the automatic gets start/stop for better efficiency.
Suspension wise, the new F56 receives a lighter and reconfigured suspension for more ‘fun’ and the famous ‘go-kart’ feeling. A new single-joint spring strut axle at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear intensify the MINI Hatch’s unique handling properties.
In order to reduce weight and increase component rigidity, the new front axle is fitted with aluminum swivel bearings as well as axle supports and wishbones made of high-strength steel. This supports the agile turn-in response and precise steering of the new MINI. At the rear, the share of high-strength steel used in the axle has been increased. An optional Variable Damper Control system is available as well for choosing between comfort or sport modes for more dynamism.
The Cooper and Cooper D will be fitted by 15-inch forged aluminum wheels, while the Cooper S will be fitted with 16-inch wheels as standard. MINI will also be offering wheels of up to 18-inches as options.
As with every MINI, personalization options abound from aesthetic to functional electronic details.
The company also announced a £750 million combined investment in three manufacturing facilities which include a new 1,000-robot body shop at Oxford, new technologies at the steel body pressing operation in Swindon and new machining and assembly facilities for new three and four cylinder engines at Hams Hall near Birmingham. The investment also involved job security for 5,500 workers.
"I was lucky enough to get an early preview of the new Mini - a classic British icon - during a visit to the factory in Oxford last month. This £750 million investment is great news for both the local and wider economy, along with the 5,500 workers whose jobs are safeguarded by this launch,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.