Opinion: MINI Should Make Adaptive Cruise a Low Cost Option

As MINI looks to get its footing back in the US market there are a couple of areas that the brand clearly needs to focus on. Design and performance have been and will always be keys to the brand’s success. But we believe MINI needs to increase it’s level of standard technology in its cars to better compete and (outclass) rivals.

MINI’s Adapative Cruise option is one easy way for the brand to add a hint of autonomous capabilities. It also endows MINIs with critical safety features like frontal impact warning and pedestrian warning systems. The problem is that it’s a $1000 option that isn’t a part of the fully loaded package.

What is Adaptive Cruise? Here’s how MINI describes it:

With precise engine and braking control, our Adaptive Cruise Control helps your MINI maintain a consistent speed, adjusting to account for curves and hills. Adaptive Cruise Control will even use video to monitor and automatically adjust speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. Of course, if you want to make any adjustments, just use your steering wheel controls to speed up or slow down.

In addition MINI combined the option with Pedestrian warning and Frontal Impact warning systems.

MINI isn’t alone in charging a premium for the option. Most other car-makers hide similar options behind the highest trim package. Even still they cost often more than $1k.

What we’re talking about here would be MINI effectively creating a loss-leader in an effort to change the perception of a car and a brand. MINI needs to be known as a high-tech, premium product. Making Adaptive Cruise cost $500 (or including it in the full loaded package) would put great technology in more owners hands – likely increasing their affinity for the car and the brand. It would also be a great way for MINI to create value at higher level price points – something that makes a ton more sense than trying to offer a stripped down Cooper for under $20k in our eyes.

One of the more interesting aspects of MINI’s version of Adaptive Cruise is that it even works with manual transmissions. While it’s a little less full featured, that aspect of the option speak volumes of the brand’s commitment to manuals.

Adaptive Cruise has one of the lowest take-rates of any options and thus isn’t even widely known much less experienced. Getting more cars out there with the technology will increase awareness of the option and better position MINI has a leader in technology.

  • They really should make it a no-cost option especially considering other makers build it as a part of general collision mitigation systems.

  • Jack Rowland

    I feel it should be swapped out with Park Assist in the current Technology Package. That makes more sense.

  • Roger Sinsheimer

    Yes they should — after they fix it so it works properly / safely. The MINI ACC (at least in the 2016 Clubman, the example I have) is quite scary in the way it works sometimes, doesn’t work other times, is completely befuddled when you’re driving into the sun (something I do every morning and every evening). If they’d pony up and create one that uses radar (as opposed to a video camera) as its means of “seeing”, or some combination of radar and video, and made it so it could follow another car properly rather than letting the gap become way too large when the car ahead accelerates and flip to suddenly way too small a gap when the car ahead slows down) then they’d have something. My friend’s Audi with ACC works an order of magnitude better than the one I have. It has radar sensing. And his ACC works down to a full stop, as opposed to the MINI version which quits at 25 kph (16 MPH). I don’t think it would be a loss leader @ $500, though obviously a lower price would cut into BMW’s profits.

    • fishbert

      I really wanted the adaptive cruise option back when I was ordering my 2015 F56 S, mostly because it adds the ability to detect speed limit signs. But I ultimately decided to skip it because I had heard of these same kinds of issues you mention because the system is entirely camera-based instead of radar-based. And I also ran across a rumor at the time that MINI had stopped fitting it on cars until they got things sorted out (so ticking that box on the order form would’ve meant a big delay in delivery).

      • Roger Sinsheimer

        I left out that the MINI ACC is terrified of overcrossings, i.e. when there’s a bridge over the roadway that casts a deep shadow. I get it, the camera can’t see what’s in that deep shadow, so it “assumes” there’s a car in there. So it hits the brakes, sometimes hard, when it encounters one. We have a lot of those here in Southern California over the freeways. It makes the passengers (much less the people in the car(s) behind me) crazy.

  • Eric

    One more step towards autonomous driving.

    Insurance companies are sure to overpay drivers who will have the audacity to just continue to master their own vehicle

  • darex

    I tried to order it with my F60, but was denied due to a factory issue (that’s since been resolved). I don’t miss it much though. It still lacks blindspot monitoring (which nearly every other car now has, standard), and is somewhat limited in functionality when you have the manual transmission, as I do. I never use cruise control, anyway, so I don’t miss having ACC.

    • fishbert

      Blind spot monitoring on the girlfriend’s Mazda is awesome, especially how it gives an alert for cross-traffic when backing out of a parking space. It’s the one feature I’m jealous of in a car less expensive than my MINI.

  • Charles

    Toyota is including their “Full Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control” standard on many vehicles now — even in the lowest trim!

    Mini is really behind in safety/technology features. As people have pointed out, camera-based adaptive cruise control is less reliable than radar because its subject to visual impairment issues (overpasses in shadows, direct sunlight, tractor trailers painted to look like the sky). Mini doesn’t offer very useful features like blind spot monitoring at any price, etc.

    And the arrogance of not including Android Auto because it doesn’t let them control enough of the “user experience”.

  • Creed Cate

    With Toyota and Honda rolling out ACC and more in affordable cars, it seems MINI must be more competitive with this technology. Safety is hardly an area they should hold back on IMO.

  • Ryan George

    I’ve been with MINI since 2010 in sales at a dealer in Florida, and LOVE the brand and the cars. One wall I run into repeatedly with guests these days though, is the fact that we don’t have any sort of blind spot monitor available. I counter with “it’s a MINI, visibility is GREAT in our cars, so there really are very few if any blind spots for most drivers” and hope the objection goes away. The problem is, KIA has it, Hyundai has it, Toyota and Mazda have it. and even BMW offers it, so why not MINI? Come on guys, you want to gain market share?…. give people what everybody else has, and while you are at it, replace Parallel Park Assist with Driver Assistance in the Tech package. Listen to those of us beating the pavement every day and let us help you sell more cars!