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
Written By: Gabe
Sort by MINI model
- MF Garage: The F56 Sport Suspension Has Made Believers Out of Us
- MINI Challenge F56 Profiled by XCARFilms
- Woofcast #537: The Coffee Mug is Mine!
- Petrolicious: The Classic Mini Visualized
- MINI USA Updates Hardtop Configurator: JCW Exterior Pkg & Chili Red
- MINI USA Names New Head of Sales
- The Motorer Obsession Program and 2015 MINI Sales
- New BMW & MINI Parts Distribution Center Opens in California
- Car Purists vs. Active Sound
- MF Garage: Our Long-Term F56 Cooper S is Here – Most of It
MotoringFile on Instagram
- BMW’s i3 Superbowl Commercial Debuts
- BMW Team RLL Results at Daytona
- BMW at the 24 Hours of Daytona – Live Blog
- BMW Performance 200; Team TGM scores third in Street Tuner for team’s best ever CTSCC finish
- BMW, VW & ChargePoint Announce Electric Car Charging Partnership
- BMW Team RLL Returns to the Rolex 24 at Daytona This Weekend
- The BMW M2 Will Hit Showrooms a Year From Now – Here’s What We Know
- BMW’s ActiveSound Has Been Hacked
- No Surprise. BMW Motorrad Sees Record Sales in 2014
- BimmerCast #73 – BMW’s 2014 in Review
- Video: Resurrecting a Ruckus
- Video: The Gogoro Electric Scooter
- New Scooter-related Laws for 2015
- Two-Wheel Injuries and Fatalities Dropped in 2013
- ScooterFile’s Top Five Stories of 2014
- The Morning Scooter Commute
- The 2StrokeBuzz 2014/2015 Cold Weather Challenge
- Honda Recalls 10,000 Grom and Forza Models For Fuel Pump Issue
- Report Predicts Bright Future for Electric Maxi-Scooters, 3-wheelers
- Video: MotoGeo Rides the Vespa 946
MINI Model Cheat Sheet
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F55: Five Door Hatch
F60: MINI Crossover
Advertise with MotoringFile
MotoringFile Buyers GuidesR50 ('02-'06 MC) Buyers Guide
R53 ('02-'06 MCS) Buyers Guide
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
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
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'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