2014 MINI Previewed: The Interior

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 fully show that new 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. That chrome bezel that happens to be in the passenger’s hand is a bit more than the simple piece of plastic it may seem. The strip around the circular portion of the centre stack is actually mood lighting which lights up and swirls around when you engage the keyless ignition (now standard).

Additionally, there are those seats. 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.

MINI fans are already asking, what about the speedometer? The center speedo on the MINI is no more starting with the F56. This is for two reasons. First, MINI has taken hit after hit in consumer surveys with the primary speedometer being located in the center of the car. They’re finally listening to that feedback. 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.

Instead of the center speedo, the F56 will feature a traditional dial speedometer behind the steering wheel where the current rev counter is. The new tack will be a smaller, semi-circular gauge attached to the left hand side of the speedometer. It’s a more contemporary design, and frankly, a little funky. Changed though it is, one could never accuse any MINI interior of being boring.

The air vents lose their circle shapes with the center two vents being a more traditional square shape. But don’t fret, the circular theme will be continued with round vents near each door.

In the photo, just behind the passenger’s left knee, 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 circular bezel around the shifter itself is also a bit more than a piece of plastic. It’s actually a switch that can rotate from ECO to Normal to Sport settings. The system will operate in an identical fashion to BMW’s current system. Sport will work similar to the current sport button in that it gives the steering more weight (but 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.

There you have it. Lots of new design elements within a revised design language. But what about the technology? Check back tomorrow for a full rundown of technology that MINI will offer with the F56.

  • So it looks like that MINI will now offer dual zone HVAC controls with automatic AC?

    The rotary knobs look like they were yank out from the BMW parts bin.

    I like the bigger and flatter toggle switiches.

    Hopefully the plastics grade will be more BMW and less “Fisher Price” than in the current generation.

  • SirRawlins

    The centre speedometer is THE defining feature of the mini interior, and always a talking point.

    Whoever steps in to my car will always, without fail, make a comment about how cool the large central dial is. If they are removing this then I weep, In my opinion a massive mistake and a huge shame for the brand, which is watching it’s unique identity slowly ebb away.

    • Jay

      I agree. And it’s always fun to scare them with how fast you’re going. … Hypothetically. The swirly mood lighting sounds neat, though.

      • coel

        Maybe the swirly mood lighting will spin fast when you go fast. 😀

    • John

      Classic Minis stopped having them and had traditional gauge layouts starting about 30 years ago. I frankly won’t miss it, I welcome new technology. I’m more upset with the placement of the tachometer, I use that as my primary gauge and speed is secondary with my car being manual.

    • agree

      I absolutely agree, the speedo in the middle is one of the personalities that makes a MINI a MINI!!! It shouldn’t have moved! Whats the point since there’s a digital readout in the tach in front of us anyways?? R56-61

    • piper

      I agree 100%.

  • Gary

    I like the toggles…but they should have stopped prior to adding that distracting cross-hatching on the center screen and shifter bezels. In fact, it looks like they gave the center stack design responsibility to a different person who didn’t bother to communicate with the designers of the rest of the interior. The rectangular vents seem like cheap afterthoughts that don’t mesh at all with the retained, traditional side vent design. Like SR, I will miss the 1st Gen variety center speedo (good riddance to the 2nd Gen pizza pan) but I’m warming to the replacement central display as an alternative focal point. Also sad to see window controls on the doors, further watering down the quirky uniqueness we’ve come to know and love.

  • TheDreadPirate

    No CD player? Will you’ve required to have a smartphone/iPod?

    • walk0080

      I can’t believe my 2012 R56 came with a CD player. It should have had a second USB port instead so I could leave a USB stick full of lossless-format tunes in there when I don’t plug in my iPhone. Right now I leave an MP3 disk in the drive. CDs are dying a slow death on the tech side, seems timely for cars as well.

      • TheDreadPirate

        I’m ok with the deletion, so long as there is another permanent storage solution. I use my CD player much in the same way as you, it has a MP3 CD installed in case I leave my phone at home. There will be shoppers, the same ones who complained about the speedometer, who will choose something like a 500 because of the lack of a CD player.

    • b-

      That or a thumb drive with music loaded on it. While not dead CDs are dying and who is buying a MINI that doesn’t have a smart phone or mP3 player?

      • TheDreadPirate

        Batteries die. I forgot about the USB stick, the 07 R56 didn’t have that option, just plain ol Bluetooth (that broke 2 years ago in my example)

    • Gary

      The only redeeming value of a CD player these days is to provide a mounting location for one of these: http://www.mountek.com/

  • mike

    Regarding the center speedo – Say what you want about design. If thats the reason, I respect that. But “MINI has taken hit after hit in consumer surveys with the primary speedometer being located in the center of the car. They’re finally listening to that feedback.” Yup, thats how MINI became as popular as it is today, but appealing to the masses. I’m not saying it kills the car, but if I wanted a focus group tested car I’d just buy a Camry.

    • ulrichd

      Mike, I think it’s a tough choice for any manufacturer. Listen to the masses and tick of the die-hards. I have never had a problem with the MINI interior, you basically get used to anything after a while. I shift by ear so I hardly ever look at my rev counter and I pretty much know my speed by gear selection and NVH. As a graphic designer I do agree that focus groups hardly ever make for good end product.

      • mike

        Where was the focus group when MINI came out with the r50? It seemed to sell just fine without the bean counters getting involved. If it worked then, why not now. Let me reiterate that, if MINI wants to go down a different road, esthetically, I get that. I just think “customer surveys” are a really dumb reason to change a very popular design aspect of the Cooper.

        • ulrichd

          Preaching to the choir Mike. I am a huge R50/53 fan, but if I remember reading correctly BMW lost money on those cars. So unfortunately the bean counters came in and said either become profitable or no more MINI.

    • Could not agree more. With sales record after sales record, the surveys don’t seem to be hurting them much.

      • mike

        I’m trying to remember.. Doesn’t the OBC give you the option to have MPH displayed on the RPM gage digitally? I can’t recall if thats on my current R53 or my last one with Nav. If so, why didn’t that cure the problem?

        Also, from a design standpoint, if they’re getting rid of the center speedo – fine. But don’t leave a giant circle in the center of the dash for a square screen to fill. I think it just looks stupid and will reminds me of what used to be there.

  • Ian

    Can I vote ‘No’ for pulsing and swirling lights?

  • sid

    Perhaps I missed it but I haven’t seen anything posted regarding the timeframe of when the 2014 will be available. Will it be available in the fall or will it be later as in actually in 2014?

    I’m looking forward to seeing these changes in person and trying out the seats!

  • Mysticeti

    I’m slightly concerned about the placement of the start/stop toggle. Will it be prone to accidental activation?

  • Mills

    Change is good, the only thing that bothers me is the tachometer losing it’s place front and center, where it should be. I think they should of kept the nice classic round tach, and put a larger digital speedo in the middle of it. That’s what all the current drivers cars are doing. Ferrari, Porsche, Aston, Subaru BRZ, ect….. MINI was at the lead of this trend, but the current digital display is a little too small.

  • Stewart

    I’m just seeing a round up of what we have seen over the last months, nothing new!

    • There’s one new nugget in there and a major recap for the many thousands that visit this site daily.

  • Kurtster

    I am digging the large red toggle in the middle of the panel. Nice!

  • piper

    Contemporary MINI design has broken with tradition in many core areas, including the speedometer. With the parent company’s decision to also break with BMW tradition by creating a FWD model to allegedly provide a superior platform for MINI, it appears that the concept of “tradition” is at risk for both brands. It also appears that the management path to harness the economy of scale platform sharing could saw both ways. Given BMW’s decision to “gamble,” it may be worth considering the prospect of creating a mid-engine/RWD uber-performance GP edition. Since GPs remove the backseat anyway, no lose of functionality would result. Such a design would endow the hallmark MINI GP with the nimbleness and balance of the mid-engined Renault Clio Sport without lugging the additional weight of AWD.

  • piper

    Although the coin has two sides, picking the right one will always be a tricky proposition. It seems that the more IT gizmos we pack into MINI, the more removed it becomes from its core values, and the less fun it becomes to drive. If buyers want luxo-technomobiles, they should be considering spending their money on something other than a MINI. The MINI designers appear to be losing sight of MINI’s core values and as a result the car is losing its soul.