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Mini may grow to 10 variants

There are already seven variants of the Mini, and you have to wonder how much further they can stretch or extend the vehicle. Latest reports suggest Mini owner BMW has found three more ways.

The new Mini Cooper will be revealed mid-November simultaneously at LA and Tokyo motor shows, but the debut car may be only the first in what could be 10 different models -- including a plug-in hyrid. And there's still room for a sedan and sports car in the line-up.

Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer revealed the family growth plans in an interview with industry journal Automotive News. “With the new ULK architecture, we currently have in mind eight to 10 models,” Schwarzenbauer said, referring to the new ULK front-wheel-drive platform that will underpin all the MINI variants plus several BMW models.

The ULK platform will debut within weeks in the new Mini Cooper, but is also flexible enough to accommodate all-wheel drive as well as alternative powertrains.

Schwarzenbauer also said future plans for Mini include electrification, and that a plug-in hybrid model was certainty. He also confirmed Mini is exploring the potential for a fully electric car -- similar to the Mini E concept -- but that nothing had been decided.

The new Mini range is expected to arrive in Australia in the second quarter of 2014, and while we don't have final specification for our market, details of the available engine line-up have been released.

For the first time we'll see a three-cylinder engine in the Mini Cooper, with new 1.5 litre direct-injected turbo 1.5-litre petrol and turbodiesel triples powering the volume variants, while the Cooper S will carry a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder.

The direct-injected 1.5-litre petrol offers 100kW/220Nm from 1250rpm (with 230Nm on overboost), the 2.0 litre develops 141kW/280Nm (with 300Nm on overboost), and the 1.5 litre turbodiesel gives you 85kW and 270Nm -- a lift of 3kW over the current engine.

The 170kW achieved by the three-cylinder unit as used in the BMW i8 suggests that somwhere around 226kW is possible for the 2.0-litre John Cooper Works models -- which could see them offer competition to the hot hatch hero Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.