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Mini 3-cylinder Cooper Tuning

113331 Views 55 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  Robert Allen
Hi guys,

I must say I'm impressed with the performance that the Cooper's 3 Cylinder engine outputs. After having driven it on mainly B-roads for over 2000km It's given me some smiles. However, I'm sure a lot of us would share the urge to explore how far we could take this beautiful piece of modern engineering.

Everyone is talking about the tuning of the Cooper S, and there's been some success in improving performance and so forth... but to me the most revealing fact is that our engine is practically the same or very similar to the one found in the new BMW i8:

"Then, at the rear, a new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, rated at 231 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The same engine is also used in the new 2014 MINI Cooper Hardtop, albeit in a slightly lesser state of tune"


Now, I'm far from being an expert and have limited knowledge and info about this particular case and tuning in general, but if the actual mechanics and physical parts of the engine are identical to that of the i8, this would mean that with a performance tuning of the ECU a whole lot of power could be unleashed!

Cooper 134 hp VS. i8 231 hp... Even if we could only tap into 20-40% of those potential gains in performance (due to other restrictions and components that are not part of the engine, eg/ exhaust, air intake, etc). It would make our Coopers and absolute Hoot to drive and potentially rival the performance of a Cooper S. Too good to be true?

If i were a tuner, I'd be digging deeper into this, because it 'sounds' promising.

(Now it's when I wait for someone to burst my bubble and tell me I'm an ignorant ;) )
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Not ignorant, but solutions will have to come from the aftermarket works, as it would be silly business management to make the 1.5 faster than the 2.0, especially when the 1.5 is already a better-handling car due to less weight up front.

I'm a fan of the 1.5, and the i8 info shows what waiting under there!
You are aware that both MINI engines get twin-scroll turbos?

Not sure of the 2.0, but the 1.5 gets 8 lbs of boost, which it builds early and keeps all the way to redline.

It's highly possible that BMW are using various sizes of turbos, but that twin-scroll is why they can spin up at such low RPMs.
I wasn't aware that the F56 turbos were twin-scroll, but I still wonder if they are as high-tech as the ones used in BMWs.

This American vendor is offering F56 tuning kits form $379 (about £230) and it's interesting that they say the boost increases are:
- from 8psi to 11psi on the B48 (4 cylinder, ie 2.0 Cooper S);
- from 17psi to 20psi on the B38 (3 cylinder, ie 1.5 Cooper).

Which suggests that the Cooper is 'working harder' than the Cooper S - which is surprising considering the S has a higher specific output of 94.5hp/litre compared to the Cooper's 89.3hp/litre.
Pretty sure that's an error, but it would be good to double check.
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