MINI Cooper Tuning

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The Cooper is a good car tuning project to do. Think carefully and research Cooper tuning to save yourself making the usual common errors we typically hear about.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

 

Top end power should be your overall aim on the Cooper with a nice fat peak torque band.

With our tips your Cooper can be transformed into a track car and be reliable daily driver.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Power mods.

These mods sports upgrades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you get going.

Getting the best performance upgrade kits for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just won't work well on the road hard to control in slow traffic.

Stage 1 modifications: Sports exhaust, Remap, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Alloy wheels, Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter.

Stage 2 modifications: Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injector, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch.

Stage 3 modifications: Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Engine balancing.

  • Cooper and Cooper S used versions of the Brazilian-built 1.6 Tritec engine
  • 2001 -2006 a supercharged version was offered Cooper S
  • Mini John Cooper Works (2009–2014)  208 hp 193 lbft with torque raised to 206lbft on acceleration
  • The Mk2 Cooper used the Prince engine
  • A diesel engine version was offered based on the PSA DV6 block.

From 2015 the following engines were offered on the Cooper versions

  • 1.5L turbocharged B38A15M0 I-3
  • 1.5L turbodiesel B37C15U0 I-3
  • 2.0L turbocharged B48A20M0/B48A20O0 I-4
  • 2.0L turbodiesel B47D20 (125 kW) I-4 (Cooper SD)

You really need to keep as much low end power as possible and aim to achieve a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power spike.

The whole aim of our advice is to give a little insight into the world of modifying modifications and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your tuning project, the best uprated modifications and all aspects of modding cars.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains for your money as far as a single performance upgrades goes on a NASP engine.

It maximises the intake and exhaust durations and increases the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a motor sports profile cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to pay attention to the fuelling.

Using high octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your MINI project after fitting other uprated upgrades. To get sufficient fuel you may need to increase the injectors on your engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Contrary to popular belief there is usually a small power gain obtained by fitting an induction kit, they only become beneficial and are recommended after you boost the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

For most Cooper engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter. On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of needing cold air.

Do not go with the widest exhaust you can find this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Getting the cylinder head ported and polished will assist in flowing more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a pro with a flow bench. A good triple plate fast road uprated clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never make false economies or expect the standard clutch to cope. The best mods in our experience for your Cooper are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

Remaps offer impressive power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NASP engines the benefits are doubtful. However a remap on a NASP engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We've also come across some owners toying with twincharged conversions and making some impressively high power figures.

Adding forced induction will see big power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. It is generally simpler to bolt on a supercharger than it is to install a turbo. It is more challenging to map a turbo as the boost increases exponentially with revs.

It is more straightforward to map a supercharger because the boost is correlating to engine speed on a linear curve. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for loads of people first priority in your Cooper tuning project.

Setting slight negative camber on the wheels and around 1 to 1.7 degrees of toe out, will greatly enhance your Cooper in handling and cornering.

We would go to a maximum drop of 23mm - 35 mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Because alloys are less heavy they improve performance and they help to cool the brake disks. Pay attention to your choice of tyres (tyres) for your car, a good soft compound tyre can really enhance your cars handling. Please note that although they can look cool on the Cooper big alloys will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Although some people have gone larger than this without issues we would stick to a 18 inch rim size as the maximum.

There is a more updated version of this MINI Cooper Tuning article on TorqueCars.com.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Cooper options in more detail with our Cooper owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased MINI tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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