2014 Mini Cooper: Three Cylinder Engine
October 9, 2014
Our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper has a three-cylinder turbocharged engine. This is certainly unusual today, but in a few years three-cylinder mills will be ubiquitous.
What is the Mini's three-cylinder engine like to live with? Hit the jump.
The first thing you need to know is that this little engine (all 1.5 liters of it) has an impressive amount of grunt. It delivers plenty of torque and has zero trouble keeping up with or passing traffic. It's punchy even, although it tends to run out of steam near redline just when you're thinking it's on a real tear. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly this thing moves out.
Quick though it may be, it doesn't sound very good. It emits a kind of grumbly indifference, though at a cruise it mellows out nicely.
Okay, but what about vibration? Three-cylinder engines are notorious for shaking like paint mixers. Well, forget about that, because the Mini's I-3 is smooth. Very smooth. Shockingly smooth. Whatever balance shaft and engine mount magic BMW's engineers developed for this engine has really paid off. Only when the engine restarts (it has stop-start) does the engine betray its nature with a lumpy shudder. Once the crankshaft rotation reaches idle speed the smoothy-smooth-smoothness is back.
As an aside, I'm not sure why the marketers decided "TwinPower" was an appropriate moniker for a three-cylinder engine with one turbo. Any theories?
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 2,667 miles