The Next Generation MINI Interior In Detail

Last week Auto Express published the first images of the F56 MINI’s interior stripped (if just partially) of its camouflage. What we saw both raised some questions and confirmed most of what we had gathered from sources. And now that the images have gone live, we can tell you a bit more about what we know.

Sources familiar with the new interior have called the final form a huge step forward for MINI and likely one of the selling points of the new car. While these photos don’t show that form they do show a radically altered design brimming with new technology.

First let’s focus on the image itself and break-down the details of what many of you have been pouring over. What we see here is the cheapest spec interior (there will be four total) with the top finished in rough prototype plastic. The higher spec interiors will actually feature different and improved soft dash materials similar to the new 1 Series BMW.

Then there’s the odd looking bezel around the central stack. The actual finished chrome bezel happens to be in the passenger’s hand. The white strip around the circular portion of the centre stack is actually mood lighting, which lights up and swirls around when you turn on the standard keyless ignition.

What about the speedometer? The center speedo on the MINI has been axed for the F56 due to two reasons. First MINI has taken hit after hit in consumer surveys with the main speedometer being located in the center of the car and wants to listen to that sentiment. Secondly the electronics of this car will be almost identical to the upcoming front wheel drive BMW. And while that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do a center speedo, it meant that there was additional cost this time in making it happen.

The F56 instead will have an analogue speedometer behind the steering wheel where the current rev counter is. The rev counter will be a smaller, semi circle gauge attached to the left hand side of the speedo

The air vents will be losing their 100% circular look with the center two being more square. But don’t fret, the circular theme will be continued with round vents near each door.

Just behind the passenger’s left knee in the photo is the large triangular chrome and red start stop switch which is designed at this time to pulse like a heart beat when the ignition is turned on. However this isn’t final and may get removed for production. The far left chrome toggle switch is the Sport/Eco button that will operate in an identical fashion to BMW’s system across all new cars. Sport will work similar to the current sport button in that it gives the steering more weight (and not less feel as with the current system) along with more aggressive throttle response. On cars with the optional 8 or 9 speed auto the button will also change shift programs so that gears are held longer and the shift points are more aggressive for better acceleration.

As mentioned previously, what we are seeing here is the lowest specification entertainment interface. But as some of you have pointed out it’s coupled with a prototype H/K system as evidenced by the tweeters in the A-pilar.

So what about the navigation screen? We can’t say much at this point other than it is a massive leap forward for MINI and on par with new BMW systems.

The F56 will debut late next summer at the Frankfurt Motor Show with photos and specs arriving earlier on MotoringFile and other sites. Official sales should begin in fall of 2013 in Europe with US timetable is still being determined.

The five door F55 should follow anywhere from 6-12 months after the F56 launches.

Head over to Auto Express to see the entire collection of photos.

  • Ballandchain410

    Booooooo, The center speedo was one of my favorite features…….Now that this has been given the boot I’m not interested anymore in the newer MINI…..

    • seriously?  you must be joking

      • Ballandchain410

        Serious. I really liked the speedo. I’ll just stick to my Rubicon for the time being…..

    • Gregzito

      CENTER SPEEDO = MINI  As they continue to dumb this car down for the masses instead of the enthusiest I move further away. Tradition? Sorry, gotta turn this into a Toyata competitor to move more units. Long live the R53! Adios Mini.

  • Marcus

    No centre speedo? Square middle air vents? I know it’s early days but this sounds like result of market research to make the MINI more palatable to people who like deathly dull interiors like that in the 1-series, not to mention the cost cutting Gabe has pointed out. I’m sure the final interior will be very smart but shame to be loosing a couple more unique features.

  • Marcus


  • les

    It’s sad news that the MINI will be losing the center speedo. It was always one of the signature features to me.

  • Hoq1

    … For as long as I’ve had my MINI, I have never used the huge speedometer in the center (the tach w/ the digital speed readout was plenty good for me). It was more for the amusement of my passengers to see how fast I was taking the exit ramp… Now the F56 is doing away with it…. Why do I have the feeling that it will return with the mid-life cycle refresh?

  • Jay

    It’s much more “tame”. I’m sure it will please all the whiners and car reviewers that constantly complain about the “cartoonish” interior. To me, it loses a lot of what makes the brand so appealing and unique from an aesthetic perspective. This dash would look fine in just about any small car. Not a good thing. A few weeks ago I ordered a custom Clubman. I’m definitely not regretting my decision to buy now instead of waiting for the new f56.

  • With the exposure of each new feature of the F56 I lean ever closer to keeping my R53! I hate to say it, but I just feel like MINI is loosing its soul to placate people that would never purchase a MINI anyway!  🙁

    • walk0080

      I agree and unfortunately I think that MINI will become more mainstream as time passes to increase their market share. The average North American driver wants an “appliance” car.

      I would suggest that if you ever have to replace your R53, go for the current gen JCW and skip the F56 for a year or two (at least). I have driven the R53, but not back to back with my R56. MINI hit the spot for me on the 2012 JCW and I suspect that after 2013 they will not appeal to me and I might be keeping my R56 for a long time!

      • Hoq1

        MINI going mainstream (I want a bigger MINI = Clubman, I like my MINI but I wish it were an SUV = Coutryman), yeah, for better or worse…. but this knee-jerk “I’ll keep my (insert R53, R56, etc)”, comments everytime a new model is being introduced is like dejevu…  Frankly, I’ll reserve my judgement until the F56 is finalized!  I can’t wait until the F56-successor arrives…. “I’ll keep my F56….”

        • walk0080

          I will of course reserve judgement until the final product is available (and selling for 1-2 years to find out if it is a reliability nightmare!). 🙂

  • Gil

    The center speedo ties the MINI to its legacy.  It’s one of the signature features that makes a MINI/Mini a “Mini.”  It needs downsizing, not elimination.

  • jeff

    we all know and understand that the speedo in the center is a design piece from the original minis and not an honest to goodness gauge for the driver.  that’s why there is an option for a digital readout in the tach.  moving the analog speedo to the center is pandering to the masses and is a risk of alienating the core enthusiasts.  leaving a circular bezel filled with a radio interface seems like a lazy attempt to pretend that the connection still exists.  i, for one, am super disappointed.

  • Rocketboy_X

    At the risk of being that guy, ugg. Glad I had one when it was good.

  • Rhawth99

    I think that it is past time to ditch the stupid and useless center speedo. I can’t believe that BMW is wasting engineering time on the push start button to make it pulse like a heartbeat – dumb and dumber. The sport button sounds useful. I will be interested in seeing the finished dash and exterior before making any final judgments. It will be interesting to see the five door and the new Clubman.

  • Si

    Having been to a lot of launches R50/R53 R52 , R56,R57, R60, R58,R59, and listened to the various heads of MINI UK Sales state that they moved the central speedo for an option in the UK called a cockpit crono package and would never move it again because of the heritage of the car is this MINI going against thier beliefs or is it that the picture is not showing the ‘whole picture’

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    Good riddance to the center mounted speedo. It took up valuable dash space and requires eyes off of the correct sight line.  

    The original Mini had crank windows- are people complaining the new one’s don’t have them? The original center mount speedo was an after thought and was done originally to save costs and make build easier, the current one costs more to make and makes the rest of the interior cheaper than it ought to be for such a high priced car.

    Those that still have the first gen R50-53 that complain that MINI is losing its way and that you would never purchase another are the reason MINI is going in a different direction. They need to sell cars to reach economies of scale and to stay alive and you are obviously not interested in a more modern vehicle. MINI is marketed as a “premium” product, if they continue to produce vehicles that are gimmicky and target a finite audience they will soon see themselves without customers. 

    I have had both new generations of MINI and the quality and execution (outside the f-ing radio which is due to the stupid speedo) of our current clubman is much better than my R53 was. MINI gets killed by mainstream consumers on interior- they tried to go gimmicky and the expense of that was in quality. Quality and design should go hand in hand. The refresh has helped some but the interior is still very weak for the cost of admission. 

    The “F” codes will far surpass the “R”codes in terms of build, function and ergonomics in the interior. I have no doubt about that. Bringing into the fray modern electronics and connected systems (MINI will have a form of BMW Assist/Connected Drive) and a much improved navigation experience. MINI can still be quirky and gimmicky without the unneeded large speedo- we are at a point in time where speedos/guage clusters can be looked at as information screens and do you really want to be looking off the sight line for that? If you want dummy lights rather than LCD and modern features there will be cheaper cars out but “premium” vehicles really can’t be in that dated world anymore.

    The outside will be evolutionary in design and size will remain nearly constant. I have seen these testing in Munich and they look almost identical to the current car size wise. 

    • It may not have been useful or practical but the one thing that EVERYONE says when they get in my car is look at that speedo!  I have had both generations and will continue to buy MINIs even without the center speedo but I do feel that it looses something.  As a MINI enthusiast, I enjoyed having a dash that was untraditional and unlike all other cars. I liked my car to stand out from all other cars inside and out.

      I had the Nav on my R56 and I feel that was a perfect marriage of new technology but keeping a center speedo in some form.  I wish they would at least keep the nav’s speedo ring around the entertainment system as a throwback to MINI tradition even if unpractical and for aesthetics.

    • jeff

      baloney.  baloney on it taking up too much space, baloney on it distracting drivers, and double baloney on comparing it to crank windows.  crank windows were a technology of the time.  the speedo location may have started as an exercise in cost and space savings but it has developed into a design feature.  BMW/MINI themselves have used it as a marketing tool for the past two generations.  they themselves have aided to cementing it as an “iconic mini feature”.  it doesn’t need to be as in your face or plastic-y as the R56, but what’s wrong with how it was adapted for the second generation nav/MINI connected feature?  does it honestly take up too much space as a 1″ outline?  i’m all for revising the layout and making it more mainstream in terms of functions and buttons, but i won’t believe that it would be impossible, or even difficult, to keep the speedo in the center.

    • Si

      As I have stated I have been here from day 1 and seen the first cars in July 2001 we got 3 cars 2 Coopers and a MINI One all of the cars had components from Rover and Landrover, key fobes, the code name R50 was Rover but BMW put the quality in the car but kept the heritage and its ideals, poor Alec will be turning in his grave about loosing the central speedo, on the older Mini it was put in last as the car went down the production line on a long pole, maybe BMW will loose the kidney grill next so to get better areodynamics on the 1,3,5,7 cars, I am all for tech and moving cars forward , MINI Conected Apple I-Phone integration are all now coman place to the progress of the car

    • Gil

       With this line of rationale, we might as well all be buying Honda Accords.  I like being part of a “finite audience” and it makes me sick to think that “economies of scale” have become the design priority.

      If I wanted a vanilla interior layout I’d buy a “BMW-branded” BMW and join the rest of the mindless sheep following the herd…

    • 115hp

      I wish I could get crank windows–after 6 window motors/regulators! What’s wrong with a little exercise.

    • thatotherguy

      while everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s interesting to note the MF guys rarely pop over to  Bimmer_file. good fences make good neighbours.

      • BimmerFile_Michael

        Really? I have a MINI, have had two actually and have a great deal of insight and contacts in BMW AG in a place that develops your sacred product. It’s also worth noting that a lot of people own both MINIs and BMWs- last time I checked Gabe fits that demo and so do I. Also- may want to realize I play devil’s advocate for reasons that some on this site have figured out and other’s just haven’t caught on to yet. As for the fence- I don’t believe in them.

        • We got the whole part about you not liking fences.  I’d like to point out that I don’t think anyone ever challenged how good your connections to BMW AG are (maybe you’re confusing MotoringFile with BimmerFile).  But that’s the point of the conversation, although MINI may be owned by BMW, some of us loathe the stereotype of the entitlement and superiority the roundel gives people even if we greatly respect BMWs products and some of us may own them.  I am perfectly fine with you thinking the speedo should change (I personally liked the Chrono-kit on the R53 and love the Nav/MINI-Connected on the R56 and believe the size of white R56 sans-LCD speedo is unnecessary). What I think thatotherguy was getting at without putting words into his/her mouth is that as MINI owners when we state our own opinions on MF (at least recently) we should do so with the understanding that other people also have passionate opinions which deserve no less tactful respect.  If you cared so much not just of your opinion but to convince others of your opinion as you state you do, it would be good to research the subtleties of the speech of who you are directing your comments towards if you wish to persuade them rather than imposing your opinion in an imperialist manner.  I highly suggest you lookup the derivation or wikipedia “Devil’s Advocate” as there is no “White Man’s Burden” to make other people see your opinion which is what you seem to think the definition is and is the way your writing comes across.  thatotherguy and I are responding to your comments because as I alluded to earlier, there was a time [I can recall from listening to WRR] when the comments on MF apparently got a bit out of hand in regards to impolitely belittling someone else’s opinion rather than having health discussion.  We’d like to keep a health discussion and it is especially important for external commentators to understand.

        • thatotherguy

          what he said.

    • “I have driven a MINI and I think the center mount speedo on that car is horrendous: too big and gaudy.”   Oh, you must be referring to an R56 then (as an R53 owner I would agree the R56’s speedos only purpose in size was to hold the Nav screen)  In regards to your comment regarding economies of scale, you seem to be confusing MINI with BMW.  You like to discuss history but you to fail to recall that classic Minis were not just known for their revolutionary engineering but also for not turning any profit.  There is the classic story of Ford buying a Mini to reverse engineer it but realizing they’d lose money.  That classic Mini sold for nearly 40 years so I’d say they got their engineering costs back.  What is also interesting is that during that time many competitors with “better” cars such as the Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Chevette failed to unseat the Mini and the car designed to replace it, the Austin Metro, didn’t survive as long as the Mini.  Along the lines of economies of scale I would ask if you believe F56 and future MINIs should be produced in German or any other place other than Oxford as that is at capacity?  Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably love the MINI a little bit more if it had a few fewer squeaks and slightly better reliability and build quality, but the Toyota/Scion-buying Consumer Reports-reading population that cares particularly about these qualities has never been the primary intended audience for MINI and I don’t believe it should be.  I am genuinely looking forward to seeing what the final F56 dash looks like because the huge cavernous space above the controls in the picture and awkward looking buttons don’t seem anywhere near final-design and I am trying to be open minded regarding potentially innovative dash layout.  However more than ever with platform sharing and the economies of scale which MINI gains from a shared platform (I thought you’d like that), I would expect that there is more money to be afforded to have substantial differentiation between the F56 and the BMW it is based on, including a quirky, innovative and perhaps only a little bit practical speedo where ever it may end up.  Very lastly regarding your comment, “speedos/guage clusters can be looked at as information screens and do you really want to be looking off the sight line for that?”  One of the great things about my first MINI was how it taught me to know exactly how fast I was going simply by knowing what gear I was in and by listening to the revs of the engine.  It made me feel more connected to the machine.  Sure I looked at the speedo when I saw a Crown Vic parked on the side of the interstate, but that was about the only time and it wasn’t for lack of convenience.

  • b-

    This is too bad indeed! If the center Speedo is gone then why have the center circle at all? So I guess that in the following gen it will be gone altogether. Also, the square vents and triangle start button all go against the MINI design language. This car will unite R53 lovers and R56 lovers because this car will be going against who MINI is in so many ways. Sure, there are design changes because of changing safety regulations but changing the iconic interior features because of surveys… Disappointing!

  • here we go, whats the only unchanged think from the original mini up to r56? center speedo…

  • D.

    “Just behind the passenger’s left knee in the photo is the large triangular chrome and red start stop switch which is designed at this time to pulse like a heart beat when the ignition is turned on.”

    Sounds like a distraction and an annoyance.

    MINI/BWM MUST be Very careful about making changes. Too much change at any given point will not sit well with more traditionally oriented owners like me. This is about EVOLUTION, Not REVOLUTION…

  • Aurel

    that mood lighting circle around the center will have other visual functions when coupled with Connected or Nav. Lets just hope they will defeatable.

  • D.

    “The original center mount speedo was an after thought and was done originally to save costs and make build easier, the current one costs more to make and makes the rest of the interior cheaper than it ought to be for such a high priced car.”

    No, it was done to facilitate marketing the car in Right Side of the Road countries; something that is still true, by the way. That part of the instrumentation would be the same regardless of LSD or RSD.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Yeah which means Cheaper and means easier to build. It was not part of the “design language”. The current speedo cost more money bc of the integration of the modern components. It was an after thought- actually they couldn’t put it anywhere else and had zero choice, not really a “feature” then.

      • Chris Underwood

        It’s really irrelevant WHY the car originally had the center speedo…  The fact of the matter is that it DID have it and that it’s a uniquely Mini feature that was carried on through the Mini years and continued with the MINI.  By eliminating a feature unique to the Mini/MINI, you render the car more “generic” and less interesting.

        This was one of my concerns when it was announced that the next MINI would be platform sharing with the 1 series – the lack of a unique identity for the MINI.  It seems like this is going to be the case to some degree, which is a shame.  If I wanted a 1 series I’d buy a 1 series.

        Further, I couldn’t care less that it costs more to put the speedo in the center with the modern electronics…  The MINI commands a SUBSTANTIAL premium over other cars in its class – from where I’m standing it’s good that part of that premium goes towards making the car stand out from the herd.

        The lack of the central speedo alone may or may not be enough to keep me from buying a next generation MINI, but when you couple it with other changes to the interior (making it more BMW-like) and things that they may have less control over (the length of the front bumper overhang) and it all adds up.

        You say that MINI doesn’t need the “finite audience” that laments the loss of things like the center speedo, and that the “mainstream educated consumer” will flock to MINI once the horrible legacy features are gone…  Thing is, people are willing to pay MINI prices for a MINI BECAUSE it’s a MINI.  If they alienate the core demographic who’s been willing to pay a premium over other cars in the class to get a MINI, what’s going to make the “mainstream educated consumer” want to pay that premium vs getting a Honda, Toyota, etc. for less money, or a VW, BMW (1 series), etc. for about the same price?

        My wife’s $18k Kia has a better navigation system than my $31k ’11 MINI…  I’d still rather have my MINI than her Kia.  If my MINI wasn’t a MINI, I could’ve saved $13k.

  • JbkONE

    I always try to be positive and hopeful for the new models.  I don’t like crossovers, but the one MINI produces is probably the coolest one I’ve seen.  I’ll never own one, but I like it.

    I can’t be positive about the loss of the center speedo.  I LOVE IT.  And so do MANY people who buy and get used to it.  If you’re complaining incessantly about a design feature of a car you bought, why in the hell would you buy it? 

    I shed a tear for MINI.  Bye bye center speedo.  You will be missed. 

    I wonder how we could get word to MINI corporate that we want to keep it?

    And @BimmerFile_Michael:disqus , the only way it would cost more to put it in the center instead of in front of the driver is an extra 5 inches of wire and lower numbers of components produced: you’re still making speedos, you’re still making radios and bezels and everything else – you’re just putting them in a different location.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Not correct about the cost. integrating all that into the Speedo is a cost nightmare and IMHO a poor decision. Anything custom and low volume is- MINI is low volume and the head unit is custom, the speedo is custom, the whole system is custom. The R53 system was much more cost effective- yes. 

      • JbkONE

         Well, integrating the radio into the speedo in the first place was a bone-headed move IMO.  So there, we agree: a radio should not be integrated into a speedometer.

  • walk0080

    Way to early to tell what the final interior will look like. I never use the centre speedo and always rely on the digital one on the rev counter, but the interior of my R56 JCW with chrome and chili red looks pretty fantastic. I constantly get compliments.

    What I don’t understand is why doesn’t MINI just use digital displays… two round pods on steering column, one large one in the center of dash. Make it completely customizable. I assume it is cost but it would be cool nonetheless.

    Anyways I am not in the market for a new car so this news is not that important to me. Those of you thinking of a next gen MINI and are worried, please remember that sometimes a different car company builds the car you want.

  • Jamiebingley2303

    So basically you are going to be able to buy a BMW with either a MINI badge or a 1 Seires logo.

    • LTL M CPE

      sure starting to sound that way….

  • 115hp

    Whatever. I have an ’02 Cooper and an ’02 Civic. Whenever I drive the Honda I don’t go “WOO HOO I don’t have to look to the center for my speed!” I thought it was lame when MINI offered the digital readout in the tach–but whatever!  MINI sales will continue to climb and that’s what it’s all about.

  • Griffin

    The center speedo will probably continue on the digital display of the upgraded sound/navigation system. customizable displays are the next trend.

  • Personally, I want MORE info in the middle, not less. It’s useful on rallys to have my copilot know the mileage. I want an option to have the odometer over there so she can see what’s coming up.

    • Mark

       Agree 100%. I would have to take my eyes off the road a lot more to keep track of the mileage if my navigator cannot.

      • You will have ways to get it.

        • chad

          maybe the car can stream any needed information to your navigator’s ipad?

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    You are correct (props to you!)- thanks for bringing the point home that the majority of people here didn’t even realize that the Mini didn’t even have roll up windows- yet what about “tradition” or so called “diehards”. 

    What else are people going to buy if not a MINI? Seriously, people going nuts over a speedo- what brand would even want to cater to this market especially those that have stuck with their original MINI and complained for the last 6 years about the current one? 

    • I don’t know, man. I have an R53 with navigation. The new ones do look cooler with that spedometer around the screen. They should at least keep on with that idea. It’s part of Mini’s herritage. Crank windows aren’t as unique and have been on just about evey car made during the classic Mini’s time.

  • Planeguy96

     Speedometer….. what are those used for?   who cares where it’s at….


    Seriously though.  I feel very much in the middle of this dilemma…I have a 03 MCS coming upon 10yrs of ownership which is too small for my growing family.  As I have thought about what to replace the MINI with I find myself rejecting the unique quirky style that I liked 10yrs ago.  I have really considered a countryman but honestly the interior has been what is holding me back.  Style, hard plastics, expensive touch screen when others have gone std. So on one hand the unique style was part of the formula that made me buy a MINI but that same style becomes less desirable as I age.  Many auto makers have turned their gauges into spaceships while the German makers have kept it classy behind the wheel and added nice touch screens.  But I don’t want just another car, one that looks just like all the others…. So I would really like to stick with MINI but fear my sensibilities are leading me away from the brand.  I need 4 doors and want an premium interior full of tech and soft touch more befitting a middle age man.


    MINI is in a tough spot….they need to stay innovative and DIFFERENT yet keep the customers that have been pleased by their ownership experience.  Ideally MINI would pass customers like me to BMW and stick with their niche, content with their market not trying to grow grow grow to infinity…but BMW currently does not bridge the gap effectively.  With the 1 and 2 series perhaps that will become more feasible if the right products are actually brought to the US.


    So while there is a part of me that really echoes the Michael’s sentiments ….The other side of me says why bother, If MINI is going to go more mainstream and allow the practical Germans place function ahead of form… DB’s best sarcastic whine voice “You’re killing the brand….man”…LOL


    With all that said, I am very much looking forward to the F55 5 door….I think enough MINI DNA will remain and it will undoubtedly be a better car in nearly every technical aspect.

    • Bob Hayhurst

      “Don’t be lured by the dark side off the force young skywalker…”  Buy the Minivan/crossover/suv if you must but if you can can, keep the 03′ S.,,

      • Rocketboy_X

        If you’re going to do that, you might as well buy a Mazda 5 🙂

        • Bob Hayhurst

          Zoom, Zoom… 🙂

  • r_k_w

    The configuration pictured (described as the cheapest spec) looks terrible. I hope some of the higher spec configurations are better.

    For the sake of keeping a circle theme, they are force fitting rectangular components into it. Either design components to fully integrate into a circle shape, or ditch the circle altogether. As it is, the attempt at a circle theme looks artificial and forced.

  • Aurel

    I do believe most iff not all the toggle switches will be gone too … with the window and door ones ending up where they are found on almost all cars … in the doors.

  • Mike Donio

  • merlot

    I’m new to MINI (6 months into a new 2012 MCS) so I don’t care for the center speedo.  What bothers me is the center tachometer, which is currently in the perfect place, being moved to the left and made smaller.

  • frogberg

    I’ve survived without a central speedo, but it stinks that they’re getting rid of it. This is a slippery slope they’ve started down.

    As long as they don’t put two pods above the wheel like with the Chrono Pack in my R53. See how the wheel cuts off the speedo (on the right)? Yeah, that happens when you’re driving, too.

    • Ballandchain410

      Yeah, but your car still had analog gauges there, not electronic garbage……

    • That was my beef with the Chrono package and Navigation in the R53. I like the center speedo, it’s like having a BMW’s signature grille imho. The R56 did do a nice one and keep the center speedo with the Navigation.

  • Bob Hayhurst

    Sooooooo….the speedometer moves to the present location of the rev counter, the rev counter gets bounced to the side of the speedo thus leaving the middle of the dash open for whatever. 

    I like the center speedometer but I never use it.  I use the digital speed reading on the rev counter just about all the time. The center speedo makes for a nice picture in Kansas @ 90 mph but if it moves over, why not. The design elelment of the round shape in the center of the dash is going to stay as evidenced by the mind bending swirling mood lights.

    And while I don’t have MINI connected or sat nav,  I do recall in those uses the center speedometer is relegated to a red/blue moving comma around the outside of the speedo housing, hardly anything in common to what Alec Issigonnis contemplated.

    Personally, I would rather see a larger rev counter where it is at present with the speedo tucked off to the side and a oil pressure/water temp gauge on the other side. As far as the red light pulsing on the engine start/stop switch; that needs to go. It’s been done on some other car, either a cadillac or jag, I can’t remember but I thought It looked cheesy.  

    I’ll wait until I see it (the F56) in and out before I burn the house down. I suspect and hope that it will be progressive and not just change for the sake of change…

  • Piperbud

    With each generation MINI loses something significant in translation. The only thing that is truly MINI is its name. The rest is utter disgrace. Time to start re-thinking VW or FIAT as a better choice.

    • walk0080

      Ya the new VR Golf GTI and R are such a head turners with that nice but otherwise generic interior and bland econo box exterior that is barely different than any other car on the road. I guess if VW are still boring and German like from decades ago, and that is what you want, I think you should go for it. But I kinda feel that your comment is a little bit over the top… disgrace? This is a spy shot of a draft/work in progress interior for a new car that isn’t in production yet.

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    Looks like this isn’t the first time a MINI hasn’t had the speedo in the center, so there is “tradition”

    Just saying 🙂

    • faster, Tobias!

      It is surprising that nearly everyone thinks the Mini always had a central speedo. And the floor would pool with water in a hard rain – I wonder what people would think of that ‘design feature’ today!

    • R Burns

      traditionaly it often was behind the wheel too…

    • thatotherguy

      and a clutch pedal apparently…

    • really


  • Christ2

    With each generation, MINI becomes more mainstream.  In it’s first reincarnation, it was a quirky car, with many positives, and some substantial negatives, many of which added to the car’s character.  As such, it attracted a number of quirky people.  It wasn’t necessarily a profitable venture for BMW, more a labor of love, and many people were attracted to that.   And it became a huge hit, and BMW figured out there was money to be made–no fault there–by making the car more accessible to the masses, and expanding the line so people who wanted “big” MINIs could join the club.  And BMW suceeded in spades with their bottom line. It ensured the survival of the MINI line, but at a cost–much of the “quirkiness” is gone, the MINI has become more like other cars (and will drift even more from the extremes to the center), and the initial rabid enthusiasts are heavily outnumbered by people with more practical considerations.   Yes, these are generalizations; there are still rabid MINI owners (many of whom are on these boards), but they are an ever shrinking miniority. Nature of the beast I suppose.   Many of the initial rabid fans of the MINI have either kept their R53, or moved on as the brand became diluted, and the car more bloated.  It’s the nature of the beast, MINI is becoming more refined and less unique, and more profitable.  It’s hard to blame BMW, but any way you slice it, it’s not the same as it was 10 years ago, when I absolutely HAD to have a MINI.    I’ll hang on to my R53 for as long as it continues to run.  I doubt I’ll buy another. The reasons I initially bought are for the most part gone.

    • ulrichd

      Congratulations, one of the best observations of all things MINI since the R50 came out. I had a 2000 M-Coupe at the time coming to the end of a three year lease and I knew from the moment I saw the R50 I had to have a MINI as my next car. I bought an 03 DS/W Cooper S which I kept and modified for six years. I then moved to a BMW 128 Sport which I still have but has never captured my heart quite the same way. I am sometimes tempted to pick up a good used R53 unless BMW blows me away with the F56.

  • It’s nice to see a MF article with so many comments!  The comment sections has been a bit sparse recently and seeing all these comments reminds me the passion is still there.  Maybe somebody could explain why if a quirky feature might change why people discuss jumping ship to something like a VW or 128i which are the antithesis of MINI?  VWs are mass-produced, what-color-do-you-want cars and although the GTI is a phenomenal performance bargain and while the 128 is still sporty while much more luxurious and better made than any MINI, they don’t seem nearly as fun or unique and I thought that’s what the people that threaten to leave are complaining about loosing?!  Am I just crazy?

    • Christ2

      You answered your own question.  The VW is a performance bargain–if the MINI is as mainstream as the VW, and the VW is the better bargain, it becomes a no brainer. The MINI was unique; as it becomes less so, it’s not as attractive to the original fanatics. There really isn’t anything that grabs my “I have to have it” sentiment like the R53/R50 did; all things being equal, the performance bargain suddenly makes more sense than it did 10 years ago, when I was willing to overpay for something as off the beaten path as the MINI.

      As the MINI becomes more mainstream, there is less separating it from mainstream cars. So you gain the larger share of the market, the mainstream buyer, but lose many (not all, but many) of the initial hard core enthusiasts along the way. It’s not the first time it’s happened with an iconic car (heck, it’s even happened with other BMW series in the past), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

      • Blainestang

        Exactly… I was writing a very similar post last night, but didn’t finish it. As MINI becomes more like other cars, but maintains the MINI price premium, they make less and less sense.

        For instance, we were recently looking for a fun, 4-door vehicle that’s relatively unique. The first option was obviously a Countryman, being that we both absolutely love our hardtop R56 Cooper. Well, while some of the MINI character is still there, anybody who is honest can see that they gave up some of what makes MINI really special when they designed the Countryman, most notably the driving dynamics. Some people claim that it drives “just like a MINI!”. They’re either lying, don’t know better, or are in denial. The Countryman doesn’t handle anywhere near like my stock-suspension Cooper. It was a huge disappointment, too, because I wanted to love it and buy another MINI. 

        Truth is, the Countryman Cooper is like a lifted 4-door Golf with a lot of options for customization… oh, and plus a few thousand dollars. It’s handling is mediocre (compared to good-handling cars, not compared to CR-Vs and such), it’s underpowered, etc. So, rather than threaten to buy something else, we did. For the same amount we would have paid for a stripped-down Countryman Cooper, we bought a far more capable, faster, relatively efficient and relatively unique VW GTI 4-door. We’re going to pick it up on Saturday.

        Sorry MINI, but when we pay a premium, we’re paying for MINI-ness, and in my opinion, we get a lot less MINI-ness with the Countryman. Obviously, there are plenty of people who ARE buying CM’s, but I won’t. Once you see past all the color schemes and options, it’s pretty mediocre when compared to other 5-door hatches.

        Point being… please don’t make the F56/55 soft, bland, mediocre, and mainstream. There are plenty of those types of cars out there. If everyone in your focus group likes the car, that not a good thing… it means you’ve failed. If a good percentage of them don’t say either “it’s too small” or “the suspension is too rough,” etc., then it’s not MINI enough.

    • ulrichd

      Jason, I am the guy who jumped to a 128 when my 03 starting spending more time at the repair shop then I was willing to put up with. Since I didn’t care for the looks of the second gen hatch and there was nothing else that was a “must have” in the market I chose the 128. I wish we had some of the compact/sub compact choices that the Europeans do.

    • thatotherguy

      BimmerFile_Michael started it. 😉

  • Jamesn331

    I have an original 1979 Mini, which came as standard with the 3 clock central layout that was used on the original car for around 23 years. If you look at any custom classics at shows, or if you read Mini Magazine or Mini World, you notice that the centre clock is the top custom fitment in the interior whrn people come to restore even later Minis. I’ve always loved how the big centre speedo and the 2 round air vents eitger side in the new mini mimicked the 3 clock layout, and the dashboard in the R56 with its top and bottom padded rail and in your face steering wheel is the closest i’ve personally encountered or driven to an original car! There’s no squares on the original car, so why should this new one have it! If it really were the new new new mini, BMW would take time to stuff the market research and focus on heritage, rather than just make a 1-series in fancy dress. Even if it is large compared to mine, the new car has always done a good job of picking up on the funny little aspects that made the original so special! Please, Please BMW, don’t go the way of the new beetle and totally rewrite the DNA for the sake of sales! Oh, and I desperately want a rocketman!

  • MINI fan

    I’m a MINI enthusiast and i visit motoringfile on a regular basis, but honestly, some of the comments i see here actually make me think about the future of the MINI “spirit”. 

    All i see is people complaining about the R56 and now about the F56, like they are somehow an insult to the R53, that for some strange reason, is now considered the “original” MINI. I’m pretty sure the F56 will still be about 90% similar to an R53 and a lot more MINI than the VW’s and FIAT’s some threaten to buy.

    I think the brand has to evolve and make some changes in order to stay relevant, and i for one am excited about the new model. I may like it more than the previous one or i may like it less, but i sure wouldn’t want it to stay the same.

    It’s clear that owning a MINI in 2001 or owning one now are two different things, that sense of having something special and unique is almost gone now, but as the car becomes more and more successful, that is bound to happen – I don’t blame the car for that, I think it has essentially stayed the same, and I don’t think it has been redesigned to appeal to a massive audience.

    I just hope that despite all this, we can build a sense of community that I, frankly, feel is starting to disappear, even in forums/boards like this one.

    Maybe we should establish a difference between an R53 enthusiast and a MINI enthusiast. I, for one, am part of the later group, and hope to enjoy the next generation cars and models and stay true to the MINI “spirit”.

    • I’ll second all of that.

      • Veltosaar

         I’ll also second all of you said but.. there’s difference between features and traditions. You can upgrade everything but u have to leave in peace traditions.. center speedo has to remain exactly where it is.. and where it has always been!

        • R Burns

          Thing is, it is NOT a tradition See the photos

    • Cct2

       This has been an ongoing debate since the first R53 refresh.  The MINI crowd has changed dramatically over the past 10 years; for better or for worse, Motoringfile has been overwhelmingly positive to virtually everything that BMW has done with the MINI, to the point that many of the initial hardcore folks–the people who know every nut and bolt on the MINI–don’t post here anymore. The community is already split; this has become more of a fan site where anyone who is critical is for the most part marginalized.

      It’s why I don’t check here as often, which is a shame, as it used to be one of my favorite MINI sites–I get why people like the R56, and why MINI became more mainstream, and the fact that it HAD to become more conventional, but anyone who appreciates the original MINI for the most part is dismissed out of hand as being against progress, which totally misses the point.

      I understand that I’m in the minority.  I also understand the development process and strategy BMW has put into place to develop the MINI brand.

      It’s an oversimplification to say that it’s just R53 owners complaining about the R56–that goes both ways; one of the things that leaves me scratching my head is the same people who bemoan how intolerant R53 owners are toward the R56 are just as bad in the reverse direction. Anyway, I’ve said my piece, and I’ll bow out peacefully.

    • Versus

      Best comment in this thread, I hope more people see it.

  • Piperbud

    “Mainstream” — not a chance!  It would take a hallucinogenic imagination to legitimately categorize a niche vehicle like MINI as being mainstream. Based on recent designs, a more accurate description would be mediocre — a vehicle losing its authenticity, distinction, and elegance. Greater girth and the “biggest loser” syndrome, for example, seems to have become a pandemic pathogen “infecting” the designs of many manufacturers, MINI notwithstanding. Correct scale and beautiful detail are the hallmarks of great design. Mediocrity should be considered an adulterant and not an ingredient that belongs in the MINI recipe for “delicious” design and desirable ROI.

  • Yeah, poo-poo MINI for killing the center speedo. I’m not a MINI purist- seriously, I’m not- I’m also a designer, so I fully understand the design process and the amount of planning and analysis that goes into testing an interface like this. But that speedo, huge as it may have been, was a critical touchpoint in the MINI DNA. I’m all for platform sharing and appropriate cost-saving measures, especially when they trickle down from a company like BMW, but I see this as less of an evolution and more of a kind of “watering down” of the brand. Amazing that a little dial with a needle in it can spark such controversy, no?

    As many have said, I’ll hold my full judgment until the car is out in the world and I’ve had a chance to see it up close and in person. MINI is a brilliant company with an innovative and talented design team, so I trust their knowing hands. I’m just skeptical right now.

    Side note: NOT a knee-jerk reaction, I think a lot of us really do just hold our R53’s in a special place in our hearts. It’s more visceral, more alive, more of an in-your-face overpowered go-kart than the newer MINIs. All cars have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s just a matter of personal taste. That’s the beauty of MINI!

  • Hoover

    Great article.  Can’t wait to see the final version.  MINI’s evolve…just like every car.  No big deal.  I’m one of those who will be keeping mine until the wheels fall off, and then I’ll buy another one…probably a new one.  I’m just surprised at how many people use the word loose when they mean lose. Loose=not tight.  Lose=not win or misplace.

  • 80 Spitfire

    So the New Hardtop will be bigger, have a more mainstream interior with the option of five doors. With all the other hatches available why choose a MINI when it’s losing most of it’s MINI appeal? I tell myself this is not the final design so don’t panic. However, when I saw the Coupe design I told myself the same thing. I thought “No way that backwards baseball cap look is the final design”. But much to my dismay it was the final design. Makes me a little nervous about the future of MINI, at least for me!

    • Hoover

      I really didn’t like the Coupe in pictures…but I gotta say, I kinda like it in person.  And I love the roadster…and not just because it is the only roadster into which I can squeeze my 6’7″ frame..  

    • Just to be clear – the F56 will be basically the same size while being lighter.

      via mobile

      • Bob Hayhurst

        Yes, lighter; I’m for more of that…

  • Change is good!  I want the next generation to feel more premium and have some unique and advanced innovations

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    Here is the current 1 Series (F20 2012+) Interior in M Sport trim- Alcantara/cloth sport seats/ as a comparison. I don’t personally think this is bland but who knows…

    • oldsbear

      The MINI’s interior has had some features that could be called odd, quirky, unique, whimsical, tongue-in-cheek, non-standard. The interior has echoed the puppydog face, and the bonnet stripes that are almost ubiquitous on MINIs, but totally out of place on most other cars. A bit of a tease that says, “You had better take me seriously. Okay, not really. But look out: I’m tough.”

      The odd speedometer has been ridiculed. The radio controls have been maligned. The unusual placement of window controls. The toggles. The candy-corns fuel gauge… You get the idea. They are symbols of playfulness that no other car has. They are also part of the allure. “You want something unique? Cool. Let’s play.”

      That 1 Series interior is practical, functional, even elegant. But it does not say, “Let’s play.” Without the odd speedometer, the MINI becomes less playful, more like every other car, and that’s a shame.

      • Birddog2

        Hard to determine if the “Openometer” on my Roadster fits into the “quircky, and cool” category or the “most useless gauge designed by man “category.

        The center speedo has become a non-issue with the addition of Mini Connected w/ Nav. Would be nice to add some gauges for oil temp and pressure, alternator, engine pressure and can we please add a reading for tire pressure for each tire/wheel to eliminate the search for which tire/wheel is abit low.

        • Dr Obnxs

          No, it’s easy to see what category the Openometer falls into. And to think, it could have been a temp gauge and on all cars!

      • BimmerFile_Michael

        I agree with you mostly. The windows switches and other gear- many complained when BMW moved its window switches in the early 2000s from the center console to the doors like most other cars but people got over it because the rest was what made a BMW a BMW. The MINI will still be a MINI. The MINI aura will remain throughout the car, just certain quirks may be turned down a notch as will the “trying to hard to be different”. But customization, and new retro whimsical features will be added and the exterior styling will follow the MINI design language. There will be playful features that are exclusive and based on technology, that speedo should end up looking like something from the past that should stay there if they achieve what they are setting out to do. Get more car for less cost being one of them, they are trying to compete within a segment where they are much more cost prohibitive than others and they need to come down a notch while improving build, materials and content- If people want whimsical there is always the Fiat 500, but that is not as premium and not as fun to drive (the Abarth is 3k units sold out though). I have seen the F56 and the BMW version, they look nothing alike on the interior or exterior. Do they share some common components- yes, but they are more individual than people are thinking. As for the drive- a close source says that the F56 will feel more like the R50 than the R56 thanks to BMW developing something new for FWD applications. All cars leave some of their origins behind, they have to otherwise why make a new product and why would people want a new one? Take the BMW kidneys- they’ve grown- the “Angel Eyes” are now squared off- sacrilege or progress? That is up for debate, but what brand stays put? None except those that are no longer with us. I always read how people say they will hop to a VW, or a Mazda from a MINI- How are those cars individual? They are not, and for the most part value is what matters- people will pay a bit more for MINI’s style and customization but not a bunch more. That is in the end the real dilemma, how to make the brand profitable, make the product individual, make it a value to consumers. What the recession showed BMW (internal and third party studies) is that people will pay a premium if they feel the car is individual and they are getting value for that money spent. What that translates is to specialized packaging, more content where it matters and the ability to customize to personal taste (that is a premium feature in today’s market). I will hopefully finish up something I am in the process of writing for the two sites that may garner some flack but that is my job in the end….

        • Dr Obnxs

          I drive a lot of different cars. For the drivers, the MINI is what it is because of the chassis, and the other parts that are less than ideal come along for the ride. But that’s not where future growth is going to be found.

          Really, MINIs are expensive for what they are. That’s OK, it seems to be a formula that works. But the market isn’t static. Each year, the gap between the driving experience available from the MINI and the rest of the market continues to shrink. There are just more options out there from which to choose. The GTI R or whatever it’s called is really a pleasure to drive. Not quite as crisp in stock form, but it’s limits are easily approachable and it’s got a lot going for it. One can go through lots and lots of cars out there that in some form or other nip at the MINI value proposition.

          But I’ve got to wonder… Was the business model originally trying to get a market size that wasn’t sustainable based on a MINI-ness that was planned to be short lived? That doesn’t make much sense to me. Seems to me that the MINI brand is defined by a core mixture of the very recognizable “shape”, great efficiency and a great chassis. Price and peak power are both secondary concerns. As long as the mix continues to contain the three main ingrediants, the market will pay a bit and tolerate 10%-20% less peak power than other cars. That’s what’s done it till now, and that’s what will do it in the future.

          Now, the changes in the interior must improve on the current breed, that’s for sure. I love my two MINIs, but some of the stuff is just brain-dead in the instrument and center stack design. That said, one can maintain some good design queues while improving the function. Looks to me like the spy shots show an attempt at that. Keep the big round thing in the center that is currently viewed as a pretty critical part of the human interface DNA, yet make improvements to the disaster that is the functional layout of the current incarnation.

          While these photos don’t show the best that I’m sure will be available, I’m glad to see some serious effort in that area.

          For me, some of the external stuff is more problematic. The cleanest, purest form of the new MINIs was the body on the R50. No stupid longitudnal power bulges on a transverse mounted engine, no stupid creases to screw with the gentle, round curves of pretty much all the body panels. Get rid of the angles, and one will maintain the unique look. But then, design is never static, for good or ill.


        • JbkONE

          That was a much nicer response, thank you.  And I agree with what you said up to the last paragraph.  The original Mini, while not completely static, didn’t change a whole lot in 40 years… and they still sold.  I don’t know how many they sold, but they were still selling in the mid-late 90s.  I say therefore your argument “why would people want a new one?” isn’t quite valid.  I don’t know why people would want a new one, but they did.  And they’d want a new MINI as well if it didn’t change much.  There are people trading in their ’07s for ’11s and ’12s.  Seems crazy to me, but they do!

          Maybe I should start a car company that makes one model really well and just make it forever with minor improvements along the way for reliability.  The company and car may not last forever, but by the time it died, I’d probably be dead too, so who cares?

        • 80Spitfire

           You mean like Morgan has done and continues to do?

  • jaldeborgh

    I really hope these pictures aren’t a preview of the real thing – Yuk.  This is NOT pure MINI at all – in fact it has no relation to MINI – again, YUK!!!

  • Geschwindigkeitmesser


    Hans; “Rolf, we’ve got to move the Geschwindigkeitmesser back to the centre armaturenbrett where it was!”

    Rolf; “Nein, Nein, it’s better centered over the steering wheel; better to see, better for the driver!”

    Hans; “Regardless, it must be moved. There have been beschwerdens. Even some out and out gewinsel!!”

    Rolf; “Ahhhh, the gewinsel, always with the gewinsel.

    I just wonder….. 😉

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      I am laughing hysterically right now! Always with the whining… except there would need to be some concessions 🙂

    • Comment of the day 🙂