Next Generation MINI Spy Photos Show More Modern Interior

MINI’s interior design language has been a retro infused rocketship derived extravaganza since 2001. And according to new spy photos from Auto Express, that’s about a change. The photos in question show completely re-thought center speedo with the entertainment controls placed within the center. While the size may be about the same, the bezel and surrounding area has gotten dramatically smaller to lessen the overall mass of unit. The result is a more modern look with improved usability. But where is the actual speedometer?

Also worth noting are the BMW 1 Series derived controls for the radio re-shaped to subtle mimic the MINI winged logo. In our minds anything MINI can infuse from BMW in regard to usability of controls is a very good thing.

Moving down a bit you’ll also notice what looks like a gaping hole below the buttons. We believe this is a phone compartment or even a dock that allows for some unannounced phone/vehicle integration that will make the current version of MINI Connected look like Windows 95.

The optional navigation system is also a little of an unknown quantity. Will it raise from the dash? We don’t think so. Will it replace what’s in the center speedometer? More likely but some of that functionality seen in the photos will have to move as the nab screen won’t replace it all.

And what of the Navigation system in general? We’ve been told to expect a MINI version of BMW’s fantastic new iDrive interface complete with hard drive storage for music and a much better and larger screen.

Go check out Auto Express for the entire range of images.

Image source: Auto Express

  • Hoover

    Take a look at the 4th picture:

    If I am not mistaken, I spy the rear doors on the hatch….and 5 lug wheels (which I think we knew were coming).

    • This isn’t the 5 door. The back will be obviously different.

  • Hoover

    Actually, upon closer inspection, it looks like what I am seeing is the gas filler cap.  Unless this image is reversed, the fuel filler is moved to the passenger side?

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      being based on a BMW the gas filler may be moved to the German side of the car.

  • Mark Rosenthal

    It looks as though the bezel is what the passenger is holding in his lap.

    • Good eye. Looks like you’re right. And just like that gone is the true point of the circle as there is no speedometer actually there that I can tell.

      • frogberg

        I think/hope it’s just a really good camo job. Like you said, what’s the point of the circle if the speedo isn’t there?

  • Jay

    I think the gaps are just that – gaps, possibly just part of the design. I don’t thing they will put anything in either end. That way if MINI Connected is installed, the gaps will be used for controls. I also think that steering wheel is directly from the BMW and will likely look totally different when  the design is finalized. 

    If anything these shots show how early in development everything still is. 2014 is looking more and more likely, maybe even 2015.

    • It is a BMW steering wheel – there for camo. Look for this car to arrive in late 2014.

      • Kemcg

        Did they change the timeline? I thought the F56 was coming in 2013.

        • Helloalexthompson

          Think he meant late 2013 🙂

    • The lower gap appears to be a tape deck. I’d suspect those guys are listening to REO Speedwagon or Creedence tapes.

      • Too big. 8-track?

        • 8-track. They’re listening to Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.”

        • Bob Hayhurst

          No, clearly he’s listening to “hellbound train” by Savoy Brown…

    • John

      Agree with all your statements!  Most of the interior is nabbed from stuff on hand to work the final product.  It may look similar to this in overall useability but it will get the MINI touch. ie. steering wheel, etc.

  • Brandon Kelly

    Pretty sure that that thin white strip around the controls is the speedo. Same idea as the current speedo wrapping the navigation screen, just thinned out a bit.

    • Aurel

       that thin clear strip is something else …

  • Jeff

    It looks to me like there’s a “gaping hole” above the stereo in addition to below it. Almost as if the big circular speedo hole is the same, but they’ve shoehorned a placeholder stereo into the space for testing. 

  • JonPD

    Looks like the interior design is less playschool than the current which is a good thing. I figure the center speedo is a core design item so doubt they would drop it. Still not terribly inspired with the exterior shapes, hoping its just ugly camo that is doing its job.  

    • goat

      Deja vu for me at least: The year is 2006… I am on MF, I am disbelieving the spy photos of the R56, hoping against hope we won’t get the bloated puffy thing that we did get. 🙂

      I will TRY to muster the same “trust” that MINI designers won’t mess up the third generation car but the early prototype shots do not engender much confidence. For what it is worth, the 2nd gen interior is much more playskool than the first generation car. Caricature and Design To Cost (DTC) evident throughout the second generation interior. 

      • lavardera

        Try to muster the same trust? 

        I don’t sense a scintilla of trust in anything that you wrote. More like a thinly veiled excuse to roll out the same ole same ole complaints that the R53 did not live for ever. Get over it.

  • It’s far too early to pass judgement, but those who were worried about it being based on the same platform as the 1-series should put their worries to rest, as it looks nearly identical to the R56. I’m sure it’ll only get better in all aspects. Can’t wait! 

  • Eric

    Wait, doesn’t the F56 debut next summer (2013) and go on sale for the 2014 model year? Has that changed?

    • ulrichd

      Since the car will share a chassis with the upcoming FWD 1-series the timeline has slipped.

  • Griffin

    the white band around the speedo looks to be for ambient lighting.

    • Bob Hayhurst

      What with the round bezel in the passenger’s lap, I suspect the white material around the center speedo is double sided sticky tape either for camo or just pre-production attachment. Who knows with a photo like this; just not enough detail to make a reasonable conclusion as to what’s what…

  • MINIZilla

    The inclusion of the radio in the speedometer on the Mark II cars was/is atrocious and it’s sad to see they’re going to continue adulterating the heritage center speedometer by kluging it up with more stuff.  🙁

    The only way to have even a DECENT look with the speedometer on the Mark II cars is to get the MINI Connected/Nav screen.

  • Aurel

    I think that’s a Benzi Box … 

  • ulrichd

    I can honestly say that in 30+ years of driving very few car interiors have kept me from buying the car I want. I thought the layout of my R50 and R53 were just great and I am sure the 3rd gen car will be as well. Pretty much the only thing I will never put up with is a digital speedo-those numbers going up and down are simply too distracting. Oh yeah, the car horn located on a steering wheel stalk in my old Ford Capri did drive me nuts.

  • Digital speedometer perhaps in the center?  With a glowing LED ring around the edge? If that’s true, it kinda loses the fun aspect of the central speedo for me… 

  • b-

    In 2014 with a premium brand like MINI will we not see a center screen standard? Let’s hope that this is a trick and that the screen will be on every car that leaves the factory. As for the center speedo ring… Perhaps the speedo will be a dial of LED lights and not a moving plastic part on a track. That is what I am hoping for. I really hope that MINI does not throw out their own design language so soon.

    The circular elements will never go anywhere and this mule has a circle with boxes in it, I think they are just instruments for testing placed in there because they needed somewhere to put them. There is no way that the vents around the center ring are real as well as the side defogger vents that are square. We know that mules, especially ones that share a platform with another car are just a pile of parts to test aspects of a car. Let’s not fall for this and jump to conclusions.

  • Do we think this will go into affect for 2013 models or just next generation ones?

    • b-

      This is the next Gen cars, the F56 is a shared platform with the 1 series so it will be a new car from the ground up.

  • Jarlinge

    Agree with those who thinks the thin white strip around the centre controls is some sort of ambient lighting. It cannot be a “thinned out” speedo since the stripe is angled the wrong way. That would be an ergonomically disaster (and not even MINI could produce that). Another thing that seems to have “escaped” attention is the centre air vents. They now seem to be squared, and almost integrated with the “centre speedo”. I think this represents a right step forward (getting rid of the Mickey Mouse design of the R60, as well as the centre wents of the other versions that in my view have always seemed to be mounted too low). I think the central console is going to be a multimedia console in the new car. And yes this will represent a break with “tradition”, but so what?! Technological leaps need to be represented in a logical way in a car. A central speedo is just plain “last generation”. MINI needs to think next generation of buyers. Multimedia is key! The car in the pictures only have a radio/CD – but it is quite easy to see a full fledge nav/MINI connect set of components there in the new car. Ergonomically it could be the best option as well, as a pop-up nav display would have to “compete” attention-wise with the central console (not to mention the fact that it will have to pop up above it – where it would have to reduce driver visibility.  I suspect the speedo/rev.counter is where it should be – right in front of the driver (hidden behind the camo). It will however be interesting to see where they will put the secondary info (tank, clock++). It should really be in front of the driver!