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Next Generation MINI Part 2: A Revolution in Infotainment & Navigation

A month ago we walked you through what we knew (and what we could tell you) about the next generation MINI’s interior. Called “a huge step forward” by sources familiar with the new car, the interior will boast higher-end materials and a more straight-forward approach to interfacing with the car and it’s entertainment options. And speaking of those options, the window into that world is about to get much larger. As we’ve reported the next MINI will adopt a BMW sized wide screen for displaying content. Seen for the first time today via MotoringAuthority.com. But it’s what that screen will display and what MINI positions around it that’s interesting to us.

Read on for a details view of MINI’s new system and how it will radically improve the in-car navigation and infotainment experience we currently know.

Enter the Real iDrive

The test mule in these photos has the final spec screen but still has several components that are works in progress. Notably, the iDrive is a direct carry over from BMW prototypes we’ve seen around Munich. Will MINI adopt the BMW input system (known as iDrive) seen here or continue with the more familiar joy-stick we know today? We believe that MINI will adopt a BMW-like system which will be a dramatic improvement over the current system. The new input will likely offer short-cut keys and a new generation of input device with touch control and hand-writing recognition on the top of the knob. Sources familiar with the technology tell us that it dramatically improves interaction with system lists and the navigation map. You can see a prototype of this in action over at BimmerFile where our colleagues detailed the technology earlier this Spring.

The system will likely include BMW’s revised graphics with 3D elements within the individual menus. Expect at least a 1.3 GHz processor and dedicated 3D graphics card to create smoother and quicker transitions.

Along with the menu presentation, the navigation displays will also be heavily revised and enhanced. The map displays and guidance information will be depicted with even greater brilliance and sharpness than seen in current MINIs. Like BMW’s revised system, look for more functionality without having to leave the map view allowing for real-time traffic and weather.

Information on the Highway

How is MINI getting this data? Unlike the R56 generation, the F56 will have an onboard cell connection. But unlike current BMWs that make due with an archaic EDGE connection, sources tell us that BMW will debut it’s new LTE onboard connection allowing for a flow of data to and from the car almost unthinkable ten years ago (With 3G backwards compatibility). In fact, this speed could eventually allow cloud processing to help calculate enormous amounts of data without taxing the in-car systems.

Because the screen will be so wide, the F56 will also make use of more split-screen displays. This could allow the process of entering a destination to be done while seeing a corresponding map displayed. The zoom function can then be used to verify whether the destination shown in the relevant section of the map is the intended one. Anyone familiar with the current system likely knows how big a deal that will be.

There will also be enhanced high-level guidance feature that is automatically activated when the driver reaches a certain point ahead of the next navigation instruction. At this point the arrow display turns into a schematic, perspective view of the surroundings. This gives the driver even better orientation thanks to an enhanced depiction of the location and precise lane guidance. For an optimal picture, the perspective view changes in stages to a top view of the junction or intersection as the vehicle approaches it, while a dynamic vehicle indicator pinpoints the car’s current position.

And then things get really cool. If MINI follows BMW’s lead (and we believe they will), the F56 will be equipped with a new 3D city model view offering a highly realistic depiction of the surrounding streets and buildings.

New technology and New Options

The F56 MINI will usher in a new era of technology to the MINI family thanks to being more closely aligned with BMW. The next generation MINIs will offer (some options, some standard) the following features

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Traffic Sign Recognition (Not all markets)
  • Adaptive Headlights (offering a wider angle of adjustment then the current system)
  • Advanced Emergency Call (Known as BMW Assist in the US market)
  • Connected Nav with Google Services
  • Rear view camera
  • Park Assist
  • ECO Pro mode (this will be marketed under a new name for MINI)
  • Auto Start/Stop (yes this is coming to the US as it is in all new BMW models)
  • 8 or 9 speed automatic transmission

What Else is New?

We love pictures like the one above because it often allows us to spill a few things we’ve been told to not mention. But once it’s out in the open, it’s public knowledge right? One of the biggest misconceptions is quickly disproved by these photos. No, MINI is not losing the toggle switches. In fact, turning the engine on and off will now be controlled via a centrally located large red toggle. However, what is changing are the location of the window switches. Yes, they are indeed moving to the doors where almost all consumers expect them to be. It’s a logical move for MINI, especially given ten years of negative feedback. But it’s also a logical move because people expect a window to be controlled by a switch in the same general proximity.

As you can see in the photo above, even though the center speedometer is dead in the F56, MINI clearly had plans for that circular area. The infotainment system will likely be available in two sizes depending on markets and options. The full navigation equipped MINIs will have a 8.8″ monitor which will likely display 1280×480 pixels. If MINI follows BMW’s trend, it’ll also offer a 800×400 6.5″ display as a lower cost option that comes only with MINI Connected functionality or other features. MINI may ultimately make the latter standard in some markets or offer it at a lower cost than the current MINI Connection only option. BMW is including a basic iDrive system with a smaller screen and no nav as standard in the US on recently introduced models (similar to MINI connected), it’s a possibility MINI USA will do the same.

Finally there are those seats we see in the MotoringAuthority photos. Seats that offer one thing that we’ve been clamoring for since 2001 – thigh bolstering. Long a hallmark of BMW’s optional sport seats, it would appear that MINI will finally be getting the option thanks to parts sharing. And that’s not all. The seats shown also have more aggressive side bolstering and look to feature alcantara as well. What is still not final is if the MINI will receive the adjustable bolsters BMW’s do or just fixed position bolstering for those sport seats.

Thank you BMW

Very little of this technology would have been available without BMW deciding create a MINI derived front wheel drive BMW (which won’t be available in the US). This has allowed MINI to finally and fully take advantage of their parent company. A company that is known as the most design and engineering focused car company in the world. A company that pushes boundaries with technology, performance and efficiency while remaining independent and family owned. All of that has allowed them to take a huge gamble with MINI over the years. And the 3rd generation MINI is perhaps the biggest of them all. BMW is completely changing the way they design, engineer and manufacture to properly support the MINI brand. They knew that MINI alone would not get the scale of production needed to afford the technology above. So they’ve risked a great deal by bringing a car (the front wheel drive BMW) to market that is at odds with the brand’s history and core beliefs. All to make sure MINI has a future.

Thanks to that decision, it looks bright to us.

The F56 will debut digitally next summer and in person at the Frankfurt Motor Show next Fall. Look for it to hit showrooms in late 2013. The five door F55 will likely debut the following spring in 2014.

Look for more information on both cars – specifically performance – soon.

Image credit: MotoringAuthority.com

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Written By: Gabe

  • http://www.facebook.com/gbmini Ian Cull

    “sluices” familiar with the new car? ;) The lack of much of this high end tech is one reason I’m in my BMW instead – it’s good to see MINI making “premium” back in to premium again

  • http://twitter.com/jStrams John Stramiello

    That interior looks amazing

  • les

    I looks like the bevel around the base of the gear shift rotates. It has Sport Mode and Green Mode written on it. I think ECO Pro sounds better than Green Mode. Everything looks like it’s coming together! Bravo MINI and BMW.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Some of that is work in progress – so we’re told.

  • b-

    I am not sure if this pic made the rounds here, a CLEAR picture of the center section with the bezel in place. Talk about a square peg in a round hole. The space around the hazard light button seems totally wasted! The lines above the bezel don’t look too attractive to me.

    http://imgur.com/kxAz7

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Yes we reported on it awhile back.

      • b-

        Gabe, I saw the blurry shot in the report, just not the clear one with the bezel on.

      • b-

        Gabe, I saw the blurry shot with the bezel off but I didn’t see this clear shot here, that is why I asked.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      The top of the dash appears to be almost- “floating”. It will be sensational! Also, depending on the market certain levels of “infotainment” will not be an option so don’t get hung up on some of those details yet….

    • Little Raven

      The image in that link (definitely square peg in round hole) is completely different than the one at the top of this article.

  • oldsbear

    I don’ want no freakin’ INFOTAINMENT!

    Back-up camera: YES! FLIR Night Vision: YES!

    Forget the rest of this crap!

    • invaliduser

      Why do you need a backup camera in a mini

      • oldsbear

        I prefer not to kill small children who may wander behind my MINI after I have done my walk-around; especially my granddaughter, whose head does not reach to the hatch window. I like her.

        • invaliduser

          Weird that small children wander behind your Mini. Seriously, this is suppose to be a drivers car that does not need to cater to people who need technology to replace the fact that they are distracted by other technology. Backup cameras were created because idiot SUV buyers kept running over their own kids. Because everyone thinks the bigger the SUV the better, and that its a good idea to use twitter, facebook, sms, all while driving, the feds are considering making backup cameras mandatory. Go buy a lexus if you if you don’t see well at night and need a backup camera. /end rant

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Not sure I agree. The biggest issue that could necessitate things such as a camera is the increasing height of vehicles and their belt line to better stand-up to larger vehicles in crashes. Because of this the driver is becoming much more cocooned and less likely to have direct line-of-sight anywhere but straight ahead and to the side. It’s easy to dismiss technology as anti-driver and something that waters down the experience. But modern realities make it a much more complex conversation.

        • invaliduser

          Agreed on the cocooned structures we seem to be evolving toward and the visibility problem this causes. But there is still something to be said on adding more tech to a car to counter the tech that is distracting the modern day driver. Lane departure and cars that break themselves have nothing to do with the structure of the car.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          I don’t disagree with the crux of your argument. I would have gotten my 2002 Cooper with roll-up windows if I could. That said I’ve personally grown really font of navigation systems, bluetooth and technology that allows me to focus on driving rather than being distracted with the modern technology that inevitably follows me in the car. That said a camera on a MINI? I’m not sure if I’d pay for one but I’m happy it’ll be available who feel that they need it.

        • goat

          invaliduser has this right. Why? Because he did not say “no vehicle should have a backup camera evah!” but only that it has no place in the MINI hatch. Why? Because it is not (yet) high enough and blind-spotty enough to make it difficult to see what is behind the vehicle. Anyone that argues that they have issues seeing out the back of the MINI hatch / clubman whilst backing up really needs to ask themselves if they should be “driving” in the first place.

          Emotional arguments about kids and grandkids are moot in the court of logic – this is not an SUV that we are talking about here: This is a compact car, with only a Fiat 500 or smart being appreciably smaller. If US drivers have gotten to the point where they need a backup camera to avoid crushing their own children even in one of the smallest sport compacts on the market and one with with larger-than-average window glass area and associated sightlines, god help us all (i.e., god help us Canadians, because we get stuck with ridiculous vehicles thanks to such Americans)! ;)

        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          This is a court of logic?

        • http://www.facebook.com/fredric.haberer Fredric Haberer

          OMG: closed minds, generic, god-like judgments. Let us be guided by wiser folk.

        • http://www.facebook.com/fredric.haberer Fredric Haberer

          Closed minds, generic, god-like judgments. Let us be guided by wiser folk.

  • otter

    I am uber glad to hear that much of this will be optional. Considering how quickly tech features become out dated and or fail, not to mention the high cost of factory installed gizmos, I prefer to have as much of my tech stuff not permanently bolted to my car. Navi, net radio streaming and many other items are already on my phone which is easily updated and or replaced. Of course my phone doesn’t offer the safety and eco tech bits, but having driven over 400K in my lifetime and never been in an accident I think I can manage the driving part unassisted; as to the green bits, the car is already quite efficient and we will run out of petrol one day regardless of expensive, performance hobbling nanny systems. So, for me, less is more and for the many who desire these features it seems that MINI will be more competitive with the F56.

  • r_k_w

    It may be a bit much to call this a “revolution”. I suspect it will turn out to be like MINI Connected — some good ideas in concept but destroyed by poor design and user interface. MINI/BMW doesn’t have a good track record in this area, and frankly I think the next generation iDrive previewed on BimmerFile has an abysmal interface.

  • Dr1ver

    Well… I normally am a tech guy who always has to have the latest geeky stuph. Unfortunately newest IT technology and car development doesn’t mix well. The development phases in the car industry are just way to long to keep up. A 1.3GHz processor and a 3D graphics card? On 1280×480? Come on. Even todays telephones can outperform those specs. How might this look in 7 years when the car is still being produced? On the other hand, the current VW Golf model is available with a monochrome navigation display…

    …so what to do? My solution would be to either completely hide the technology from our eyes or develop kind of a modular system, to decouple the much too different development phases or IT and car tech… for example to plug your current up-to-date-tablet into a slot in the dashboard or something.

    • b-

      Isn’t that kind of what MINI Connected is? You can download new Apps from the App store. It is still too new to see what will happen as it ages but it was a good start!

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      The new chip is multicore and is very quick with a dedicated GPU for rendering. You do realize that the Apple A5 chip only runs at 800mhz right? I am no math whiz but 1300 is greater than 800 and the newest iPhone/IPad seem to do things fairly snappy.

      The specs are more than ample to run navigation software on a SSD and do anything for communications- unlike phones/tablets the GUI and code can be streamlined to use the CPU and GPU as efficiently as possible for rendering for nav and specific approved app formats. The current iDrive doesn’t even have as advanced a system and it is simply amazing.

      BMW/MINI will be using open source systems for Info-tainment and this should be the first system launched under that- GENIVI.

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      It’s not running Photoshop.

      • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

        Or Flash ;-)

  • 80Spitfire

    The Mini was never intended to be a premium high end luxury car. It was a simple car that everyone could afford and fit a surprising number of people into it’s compact form. This concept was the same the original Volkswagon Beetle maintained, This, to me, was part of both cars charm. I of course realize that times and peoples needs change. However, the direction BMW is taking seems to me to be very unMINI like. I wonder about the price of even the base hardtop. I fear it will put it out of the reach of many people. That’s sad to me. If I wanted a BMW with all the bells and whistles I would buy one. I want a simple, unique fun to drive car that doesn’t have everything including a kitchen sink. I suppose much of this high tech add ons will be options, at least I hope so. Remember, it’s a Mini not a mini BMW!

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      These are really just options – you’ll still be able to order a basic MINI.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      I also think it’s unfortunate that the base price of a MINI has climbed as much as it has since 2002. The value is still there, as nearly all the price increases have come with a corresponding bump in standard equipment. But it does mean the entry point for getting into a MINI in the first place is much higher than it used to be. There is a “basic” MINI available in the lineup, the MINI One, but unfortunately it’s not for sale here in The States.

      • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

        There is a basic MINI still available in the US. It’s called a used MINI. And don’t think that MINI USA doesn’t factor that into the current MINI ownership opportunity.

        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          That’s a great point. Especially considering MINI’s certified used car program. The only trouble there is with so many options on the MINI, finding a used one in the spec you’d want is tricky.

        • b-

          MINI CPO is a Joke here in the Chicagoland area. If you check any of the Chicago dealer websites they NEVER have CPO cars listed! If you look at the dealers in WI and STL they have CPO cars listed.

        • oldsbear

          “Let them eat cake,”eh?

        • 80Spitfire

          If that’s the only option I’ll just hang on to my 2003 R50 a while longer. At least I know who the previous owner was (me!) The point is there are a lot more options when it comes to new small cars. The new Beetle is one option. BMW needs to keep the base hardtop affordable. After all, it’s still the model I see the most on the roads in my area. I’ve yet to see a Coupe or Roadster. Although I’ve seen one Countrymen lately.

    • theguyfromthehamburgertrain

      But wasn’t the Mini higher end and more expensive than the old Beetle (and Fiat 500)?

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      So you’d like MINI to compete with the VW Up! ?

      Unless you are huge brand selling in the lowest price point is a sure fire way to go out of business- profits are limited and that customer base is more apt to buy the cheapest product rather than the better one- that is a fact. MINI could never live in that market, few cars do for a reason.

  • Andrej Tsukamoto

    to me this doesn’t look like a MINI at all, it’s simply a horrible looking dashboard :( all the nice things are gone, it’s so plastic and generic looking it really saddens me… it’s probably more convenient for use (guess) but the charm of a MINI has certainly a lot to do with its looks. all the beautiful knobs and switches are gone, from the beauty and the true uniqueness we’re gonna get to a just a typical generic car with a slight touch of “premium” looking plastic in it.

    • RDA

      I agree – it looks plastic and generic, and it has lost the mini charm. Regardless what the exterior looks like, the interior appearance is critical because that is where we spend virtually all our time with the car. When I am in my MINI I feel like I am in something special. This dash, on the other hand, is simply tragic.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      This is a PROTOTYPE! The materials are just for evaluating concept and fitment. Every time I see someone complain about materials I wonder if they even have an small idea what goes into making any consumer product.

      The final materials will be better than the current model’s.

  • Chulle

    Love it. They’ve managed to keep the MINI spirit but get rid of some the quirks.

  • guest

    Is that a CD stacker fixed to the passenger side of the dashboard I see?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Yeah looks like it doesn’t it. Talk about old-school.

      via mobile

      • Hot Rod Hemi

        Gabe: Either you or Nathaniel let this slip, and talking about old school performance, one of you mentioned about performance for the Fxx series motors. My first question is will there be a JCW available at introduction of the F56? Second: Will Mini/BMW open up the 1.6 motor to the 250 hp/torque range, or better yet give us the 2.0 BMW engine? By the way, I still think that the JCW engine is under rated at its 208 hp rating.

        • BimmerFile_Michael

          The F56 will feature a 3 cylinder motor, coded N37 and will have at least three output levels. The highest output will be greater than the current JCW although that may be reserved solely for certain BMW offerings. N37 will debut this fall and will be built at Hams Hall.

          The current Prince family of engines will begin to fade out of production over the next few years although there may be a last hurrah coming…

        • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

          All of MINI’s model variants release on a stagger. This lets MINI, among other things, offset their debut so that each model gets the attention it deserves. So expect the JCW version of the F56 to be on a delay of as much as a year. Current cars such as the Coupe, Roadster, Convertible, and by then, Countryman JCW should remain available, but you can probably expect a period of time when there isn’t a JCW Hardtop available. Then again MINI may surprise us and offer the valvetronic version of the current JCW engine in the F56 in the interim. Even then, it probably won’t debut with the F56. As for power output, I wouldn’t expect anything substantially higher than now. JCW has never been about raw hp and torque, but instead about building a more refined, more highly tuned package of a car. Part of that is a boost in horsepower, but a bigger part of that is how well that engine delivers its power, and how well balanced it is along with the rest of the car. Expect that to remain the focus.

  • Aurel

    i really like everything about this so far … looking at the Bimmerfile post about iDrive I see that the BMW has the same steering wheel as the MINI mule … will they be sharing one with different logos?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      No MINI will have a unique wheel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasonrwilliams Jason Williams

    Hallelujah! I think I nearly fainted when I saw those sport seats! The new optional iDrive, Lane Departure, etc are all features I’ve dreamt about but could still never afford and could live without. I really hope those seats are standard on the MCS, as there is really very little as important the the major touch points: shifter, steering wheel and the buckets holding your butt. I always thought the sport seats were lacking in support, especially on the track where I would have to hang on to the wheel and use my legs to brace myself. As for the interior, some may not like it, but I have to say I’m very optimistic seeing the toggle switches including the cartoonish red start/off that I hope makes it to production. I expect test mules to have pre-production materials and the most bland interior colors possible and I hope and a sure there will be plenty of opportunities to dress up the interior. The ergonomics look to be a huge improvement and if auto start/stop really comes as standard, it will be one more of my dreams answered. I can’t wait to see what the actual steering wheel is like, as I would appreciate the S to have a sportier steering wheel (I miss my JCW steering wheel) to make it somewhat more competitive with the Abarths and GTIs of the world with their near-perfect steering wheels.

  • http://borborygmist.influxofdust.com/ Wayne Dyer

    Rectangular vents? :-(

  • Ray T

    “However, what is changing are the location of the window switches. Yes, they are indeed moving to the doors where almost all consumers expect them to be.” That’s a shame. I like them in their current location. My IROC had them in the center console as well. I thought that was ideal.

  • scampercom

    The thing I still wonder is how “plug and play” this new interior will be. That is, with all the effort BMW are going to to make sure this interior is great, how much of this goodness will see its way into existing models that aren’t due for a full refresh for another 5-6 years? Will the materials be updated at least? The seats? Or will models like the Coupe remain anachronistic time capsules for their entire run?

    Lastly, I have to say that the thing I LOVE about the center-mounted toggle switches for the windows is that I can roll down both windows at the same time with one hand. Am I the only one who enjoys that?

    • Markus

      You’re kiddin’?!? it’s not so hard to mount two toggle Switches for your left AND your right window on the driver’s side door… and another one only for your passengers window on the other door…. I’m enjoying that in my VW Passat, my BMW (believe it or not, i can roll down all 4 windows at the same time… ;-)

    • b-
      • 1 on the window toggle switches!!! The doors will become crowded with switches now like every other car out there and loose more of what makes MINI unique!
    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Almost nothing in cars is backwards compatible. The new “F” cars will use completely different electronics architecture (FlexRay etc) and therefore nothing the future will bring will be in anything currently produced- Just like the original iPhone 2g can’t accept the latest iOS bc the “guts” are dated.

      The Coupe (etc) will remain as it is with a slight refresh at the half way point of its life cycle.

      The “F” codes will be where the new tech lies, and the “R” will remain as current.

      And as for the window switches- have you driven a modern car that has 4 toggles on the driver’s door to open shut all the windows?

      • scampercom

        Thanks for the info. This eventuality will present me with an odd choice: choose a Coupé because I like the exterior and 2-seatedness, but not the rest of the interior. Or select a regular 2014 Cooper because it has all the latest interior upgrades, but isn’t the 2-sweater I was hoping for. Well I suppose there are worse problems in the world. (If I hold out for an electric engine my wait may be longer, I suppose… unless BMW/Toyota has something to say about it!)

        And yes, I did forget that regular cars place all toggles on the driver-side door. I’ve been in my Mini for too long.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wolfgang-Gullich/100001637967903 Wolfgang Gullich

    I still do not like the deletion of the center speedo. Yes, in nav equipped cars, it should be deleted as it was in the original R50s and moved to the steering column as a small analog gauge (I say this because I find the ring speedo in my ’12 Countryman basically useless). MINI should not lose an interior design cue that dates back to 1959 and even further back to it’s predecessor, the Morris Minor.

    As to moving the window toggles to the doors…if you don’t like how a MINI is set up inside, either stop complaining or don’t buy one. I’ve never heard any fellow MINI owner actually complain about this and as a ’10 Jeep Wrangler owner too, not once have I heard a whimper related to the window switches being in the dash.

    And rectangular dash vents? MINI loses yet another cue that dates all the way back, uninterrupted, to 1959. The circular vents on the sides directly reflect the original design. I doubt I will ever buy another new MINI, I feel they are getting too far away now from their heritage. Not just with the current/future designs hearkening back to the R50, but all the way to their original roots.

    I think some of the ergonomic quirks as it were are something that have made MINI, MINI…they tried to set themselves apart with unique, if sometimes annoying switch placement and logic. For those that don’t like it, too bad…and since when does BMW care what the masses think?

  • JIIN

    Very interesting images. If MINI now also takes care of the quality feel of the cabin (upholstry and material quality feel in general) – it think it prepresents steps in the right direction. Owning a R60 myself, I cannot help feeling that the inside quality of the car don’t quite match the sticker price of the car. I am very impressed with the engineering quality of both engine (MCS version) and the chassis components, but for the interior – well…. To see that new seats are potentially in the pipeline, is a real joy! I have been complaining on the topic earlier on in the forum. The current adjustment options are just crap! (and the pillow angeling is rubbish for a “semi sporty” car brand like this is supposed to be). Another thing that has escaped attention in the photos is the gear base selector bezel. This looks to be a replacement of the “sport button”, but in the pictures is says “sport mode” and “green mode”? Interesting – looks to be an BMW ECO PRO eqvivalent. Another thing that is visible are (what seems to be) two semi circle dials both sides of the centre rev.counter. Looks like they are putting at least the secondaries in one of them – and the speedo in the other (left one)?? It also looks as if this car has a dual zone temp adjustment option – a first in the MINI range! If correct, it is something that I haven’t really been missing in my car – but again, if the marked is demanding such a feature, then….

  • Nim

    You know if they took the center air vents and made them rhomboid instead of rectangular they could mimic the MINI wings logo in the center console. That would be a nice design cue and I nice change from the “mouse ears” center console of the RXXs.

  • Hurry-Downs

    Does it come with an 8mb camera and can it play angry birds?

  • topher_b

    Do you guys think the fact that BMW is going it entirely alone on the development of the F56 (no Peugeot involved) will make way for better quality and reliability? I have yet to purchase a MINI and have wanted one for some time, however with the constant reliability issues of the past and present generation Coopers I’ve been hesitant. Hoping this car will be a LOT better. 

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      BMW did all of the engineering development on the R5X Prince engine as well as overseeing the actual manufacturing. PSA was only involved in providing logistical support and in licensing and purchasing the engines, provided BMW with economies of scale that made the engines lest costly to develop. There is a false impression out there that somehow PSA was involved with the engineering and that this resulted in an inferior engine. This simply isn’t true. Both the strengths and the flaws of the Prince engine lie entirely with BMW. That said, the next generation engine will benefit, more than anything, from BMW simply spending a LOT more money on developing the platform than the current motor. The new engines are a modular, .5L-per-cylinder platform that will be shared by both MINI and BMW vehicles. This means that a lot more development money has been sunk into developing the engine(s) we’ll see in the F5X cars because those same engines will be in more costly BMW Group vehicles as well. There will be more sophisticated tech, more development testing and a greater number of cars on the road from which to identify issues. The current engine is much more stand-alone, found only in MINIs within the BMW Group. In the F56, the engine will be shared with other BMW products, and scaled-up versions of this same engine will power M cars and everything in between. That’s never been done before. MINI will benefit in a lot of ways from sharing this foundational engine tech with its BMW cousins, including power, fuel efficiency, and I’d wager, reliability. That said, I’d also encourage you to take reports of MINI’s “unreliability” with several grains of salt. Firstly, as with anything on the internet, you’re going to hear from the minority of people with problems and never hear from the much larger group of people who never had a major issue. This is true of any car brand, not just MINI. There aren’t many “my car ran perfectly again today” threads on the message boards. Truth is, if all MINIs were as unreliable as some describe them, MINI would have gone broke paying out warranty work. When we talk to mechanics and owners, there seems to be a very clear correlation between how well a MINI is maintained (such as how often its oil is checked and changed), and the number of major service issues a person has. I know there are exceptions to this, and I know there are certainly people out there who’ve done everything right and still had mechanical failures. All I’m getting at is that this isn’t unique to MINI. Machines break down. Where the MINI is definitely different for a lot of people is that it tends to require more active maintenance attention than other, more appliance-like brands. They appear to be less tolerant of incidental neglect, yet can also roll on for hundreds of thousands of miles when properly cared for. I’m about to hit 90,000 miles on my 2006 R53, and to date I’ve had no catastrophic failures and have only paid about $350 out of pocket to keep my MINI on the road (not counting the cost of oil changes and wear-out parts like brake pads/rotors). Our man DB is on target to hit 300,000 mile on his 2002 R50. In the end all cars are money pits. They’re all bad investments. They’re all going to cost you money in the long run. So you might as well drive something you like. Sure, get the extended warranty if you’re worried. Get to know a good mechanic. These days, that’s good advice for any car. Or if you’re extra worried, just lease the car you want and never be outside of warranty or maintenance coverage.

      • carcrazedincali

        great comment!

  • Volkan

    What’s the point of keeping a big circle in the middle of the dash and try to fit rectangular items into it (especially in the non-Nav model)? If the vents are rectangular and the speedo is moving to the steering wheel area, why not just get rid of the awkward circle and go with a design that flows better and parallels the screen in the middle? I don’t think keeping the circle without the speedo will satisfy any enthusiast, and new comers will find it odd, especially since many will not know -or care- about what used to be there in the original cars.

    • Hot Rod Hemi

      Guess I rather like the individuality of the Mini with the round info center in the middle. My answer to your question about giving away the roundness of that infor center even without the speedometer, which I rarely even look at, is Mini would loose her individuality and our Mini dash would look like every other car out there. Just my opinion, of course.

  • http://twitter.com/Rakey Rakey

    Reference the square air vents, MINI are still conducting user review groups at present, and in these meetings a version of the interior has been seen with square and also one with round vents, so this is not fully finalised yet as to the shape of the vents.

  • http://www.about.me/sohrabosati Sohrab O.

    So when could we expect the Countryman to get this new interior? As in, is it suicide to buy a 2013 Countryman and better wait for the 2014?


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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'12 JCW Coupe
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'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
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JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
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Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
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'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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