After living with a 2002 MINI for three years and then a 2005 MINI for almost 3000 miles, I thought it might be interesting to report on some of the more subtle changes made to the car over the past couple of years. It’s truly amazing how much has changed throughout the car and especially within the interior.

My goal here is to not go over the obvious changes that have been mentioned on this site numerous times but the updates that have flown under the radar for the most part:

  • The steering wheel leather now feels much more BMW like. I’m guessing BMW may have simply switched suppliers from an old Rover company to whomever BMW typically uses.
  • The “Pathway lighting” programmable feature now illuminates by pulling the turn signal stalk back – just like most BMWs. On previous MINIs it was activated by simple leaving your lights on when you initially turned off the car.
  • The doors have a much more free movement to them now. It would also appear that the main arm for controlling the door’s movement now uses some type of black coating rather than simply bare metal.
  • Not only has MINI added the orange LED lights near the now near the rearview mirror (as seen on most BMWs) but they seemed to have increased the output from the lower LED lights under the toggles.
  • The dash surgery required to take out the interior pillars and thus the center console electronics has gotten easier. It would seem that MINI has removed the one screw holding in the center part of the dash. Now the process begins with opening the glove box and simply pulling on the left lower portion of the center dash piece. Remember… quick dissembling of your MINI is always a great way to impress friends!
  • Yes the rear view mirror is larger. Thank you MINI.
  • The driver’s side parcel shelf (not standard in the US) is now made out of a plastic that is much more malleable and almost rubber like. I would assume it is kinder on a tall driver’s legs in the event of a head-on collision.
  • The boot now latches with a nice simple secure souding click rather than the noise an ’02 owner would be used to.
  • Door Hinges are now made of a different material and seem to allow the door to swing a bit more freely.
  • The dashboard is now all one peice which has eliminated some rattles. It also looks a lot better as the harder plastic near the windshield is now gone.
  • As many know the seats are also new. Both the sport seats and the regular seats have been redesigned to accomodate the new airbag sensors in them. The cushion on the sport seats are especially improved.
  • Cold shift knobs are now a thing of the past as the 2005 shift knob is now coated plastic rather than chromed metal. Personally I would call this a step backwards but I know quite a lot of people have complained about it.
  • The seat belt anchors have also been redesigned to be quite a bit simpler (and easier to install a Schroth Harness!).
  • Starting with April production, MINI eliminated the accent lighting around the auxillary power output under the toggles (the cigarette lighter).

Okay – lets hear what I missed. But please, spare everyone the obvious changes like the exhaust popping, or the new lights etc. Let’s hear about the ones that haven’t been mentioned here or elsewhere yet. Official MotoringFile “props” go to the most subtle or undocumented change mentioned.