Among one of the more frustrating features that is locked out of the US spec MINIs are auto-up windows. It's all the more irritating because all BMWs in the US have this very feature. Why this is available on MINIs elsewhere in the world and not in the US is beyond me.
In fact to my knowledge the only US spec MINIs with this feature were the very US spec cars that were delivered for the initial launch and built in February of '02.
While I have a very early US spec Cooper, it was still produced just after this early February '02 build date and thus doesn't have the feature. Well as luck would have it, this issue has also been on the mind of someone with the ability to do something about it.
Ian Cull, an engineer by trade, has devised an additional circuit board that activates the auto-up feature on US spec MINIs. It's a simple piece that is installed behind the toggle switches and simply overrides the oem controls. Installation involves taking the center plastic fascia off (below the speedometer), then the two down tubes, the lower plastic vent, and finally the toggle component itself. The kit comes with detailed instructions that make this process easier then it would seem.
The result is nothing short of astounding. Suddenly driving away from a toll booth isn't a process of closing the window with one hand, shifting with another, and driving with a knee. To raise a window automatically you simply have to double click the window toggle up. Clicking it once still activates the standard closing.
The only thing I found it doesn't do that the BMW auto-up feature does is continue to go up on it's own when you've turned off the ignition. While it's certainly not a must have feature it would be a welcome addition. After asking Ian about this he explained, “I have wondered if it was possible to get the circuit to keep going after ignition off. I recently discovered a circuit in the MINI that stays powered for a while after turning off the car, however hooking up to that would need splicing and/or soldering, not the nice simple “plug and play” we have today.” So it sounds like what we have today is really the best all around solution.
I can always tell the real world opinions to MINI upgrades by my wife's reaction. A seemingly endless supply of MINI accessories coming to the house has lead to the phrase “garage sale” being bandied about more often than I'd like to hear it. However there are some additions that she has grown to really appreciate… the auto-up windows certainly fits within this category.
For the price, and the ease of installation, it's a no brainer for all those with US spec MINIs that want a bit more simplicity in their motoring.
Rating: 4.5 (out of five)
The auto-up circuit is available from Ian Cull at gbmini.net. The Auto-Up package starts is $44 including shipping. For a few dollars more there are other configurations available with Track Mode DSC (turns default DSC mode to off), Auto-up w/garage door opener and even custom circuit boards.