Although the new BMW AG-made Mini has launched to highly favorable reviews in Europe (it's coming to the U.S. next spring), nobody's exactly shouting from the rooftops about the car's 1.6L 4-cyl. engine — least of all BMW.

BMW made a 1997 deal with Chrysler Corp. — pre-Daimler-Benz AG takeover — to design and build the Mini's “Pentagon” engine in a joint-venture operation in Brazil; Chrysler also would use the engine for various non-U.S. applications. Now that the product has come to fruition and that it appears wholly under-whelming, BMW can't wait to get out of the JV.

The Pentagon contract expires in 2007, says Klaus Borgmann, head of BMW powertrain development, and at that time BMW plans to part ways with DaimlerChrysler and the Pentagon.

The breakdown isn't just because BMW is unhappy with the Pentagon, though: Not long after the two companies made the JV deal, Chrysler was “merged” with Daimler-Benz — so BMW is understandably less enthusiastic about, in essence, making an engine in cooperation with the parent of its arch-rival, Mercedes-Benz.

At the recent Tokyo Motor Show, BMW unveiled the Mini Cooper S, a version of the Mini that utilizes a supercharged, 163-hp variant of the Pentagon that may at least help to ease some of the disappointment with the standard 115-hp unit. The Mini Cooper S will be sold in the U.S., BMW says, for less than $21,000.