Three-bangers! They're everywhere these days, from Ford Foci to experimental BMW mid-engined sports cars. And the three-cylinder engine in the BMW i8 also ends up in a somewhat unlikely place: the 2014 Mini Cooper. Zounds!
At the Detroit Auto Show on Monday morning, I spoke to some product folks about the embiggened-but-supposedly-still-fun 2015 Cooper. It's more BMW than ever before; the Cooper and Cooper S ditch the old PSA-sourced mill for turbocharged 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter three- and four-cylinder motors developed by the Bavarians.
I know what you're thinking. And the answer is no, the 2.0-liter turbo four is not the same engine as the one you get in the BMW 328i and 320i, among others. It's an entirely new engine that will see duty in future BMWs, presumably ones that ride on the Mini's new front-drive UKL platform.
As for the 1.5-liter three, it's already destined for a car with a Roundel badge, and that's the BMW i8, according to the Mini folks. This was reported by Autoweek and other outlets last year, but it's not something you hear about too often. In the Cooper, the three produces 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque at just 1,250 RPM. Not bad.
But in the i8, that three gets beefed up to put out 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The i8 also gets a boost from an electric motor that bumps its total power way up to 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.
If it's good enough for the i8, it must be pretty good. This could be the engine to get if you're in the market for the next Cooper.