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.