This review comes to us from Mike Craven:

Well, I took the plunge and installed the MINI rear-view camera retrofit kit on my nav equipped 2005 MCS a couple of days ago. The install was very straight forward and the official installation instructions (available in PDF format on Motoringfile here) were spot-on.

The hardest part of the entire install was modifying the handle strip to fit the rear-view camera and the new boot release button (and also routing the wiring harness through the boot lid grommet). I followed the instructions and used a Dremal tool to saw out the required plastic bits in order to make the camera fit properly (see these
photos: 1 / 2 / 3)
. The installation instructions claim that the install should take somewhere around 4 to 4.5 hours, but it actually took me closer to 6 or 7 (split over two days) as I was taking my time just to be sure that everything was done properly. You really have to dismantle the car’s interior in order to install the rear-view camera and its wiring harness, but no more so than if you were installing a high-end stereo system. I think that the average home mechanic who is willing to work on their car will be able to complete the rear-view camera retrofit without any problems whatsoever.

You can see more of the installation in these pics: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

As for the rear-view camera itself… It’s totally AWESOME! I know that a lot of folks will balk at the notion of installing a rear-view camera on a car as small as the MINI, but I can tell you first hand that it works wonderfully and it really helps when backing the car up into tight spaces (such as when parallel parking, etc.). As you can see from the attached photos, the rear-view camera gives a really nice view of the rear bumper of the car (as well as a fisheye view of the surrounding area at the rear end of the car) and so you can use the camera to squeeze your MINI into really tight spaces without worry of hitting anything. I back my MINI into the garage every day, and the camera really helps with being able to see my way into the garage without running into the back wall (I like to have the car backed up as close against the wall as possible and the camera is great for doing just that).

I really only purchased the camera for fun in the beginning (as I’m a “gadget” guy for sure), but now that I have it, I’m amazed at just how useful it really is. The camera’s display on the nav screen is in full color and is crisp and clear (seen here). The car’s reverse lights provide plenty of light for the camera to see well even at night time. The rear-view camera automatically engages itself whenever you put the car into reverse, and automatically turns itself off a few seconds after you’ve taken the car out of reverse.

As I’m sure you know, MINI doesn’t sell the camera in the U.S. (why, I have absolutely no idea???). Therefore, I had to order the retrofit kit from Germany and have it sent over to the States (it’s also now available from MINI dealers in the U.K. as well I believe). The camera is a bit expensive (especially due to the weak U.S. dollar when compared to the Euro or the Pound), but what MINI accessory isn’t??? I purchased the rear-view camera retrofit kit from the following BMW/MINI dealership in Germany:

Rumphorst AHG mbH
BMW/MINI Vertragshandler
Hammer StraSe 44-46a
59075 Hamm

The rear-view camera retrofit kit (66 21 0 392 370) was around 500 Euros and the required additional switchbox kit (66 21 0 303 085) was another 200 or so Euros. I didn’t purchase the front-view camera (66 21 0 392 371), but it’s available as well (although I don’t know how much it is). Note that you only need one of the additional switchbox kits even if you’re going to use both the front-view and rear-view cameras together as they both wire into the one switchbox. I reused the existing handle strip seal (part “N” in the installation instructions PDF) on my car (since it’s a brand new car) and so I didn’t need to order a new one. The part numbers listed above will work for all MINI’s (Cooper and Cooper S 2002-2005) with the factory installed navigation system. It doesn’t matter if the navigation system is a DVD-based (MKIV) system or a CD-based (MKIII) system.

In the end, I’m very happy with the rear-view camera and so I’m glad that I installed it. I only wish that MINI would make it available inthe U.S. at a more reasonable price is all (or even better yet, as afactory installed option).

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)