Unbeknown to most of the motoring world, BMW/MINI has just recently released V26 of their navigation operating system. While this in itself isn’t any real news per se (as new releases of the operating system are common in order to
correct bugs in the system, etc.), the latest release is definitely something worth writing home about.

My Baby Just Got A Brand New Pair Of Shoes!

I really like the MINI’s navigation system (which shares its heritage with the BMW on-board navigation system). While it’s far from being the best factory navigation system out there, it does work extremely well at what it does. However, the navigation system’s user interface is a bit out dated and I’ve long since given up on my hopes that someday BMW/MINI would update it and make it look and feel more like a modern navigation system (such as those systems that come in the Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, etc.). Well… Much to my amazement, BMW has done just that with the latest V26 release of their navigation operating system.

The changes that have been made to the user interface aren’t miraculous by any means (e.g. there’s still no 3D view for our MINIs), but they are significant to say the least. The operating system’s user interface has been substantially reworked and includes the following list of changes (please note that the list isn’t complete by any means. Rather, it’s made up of changes that other users have noticed after installing the update [credit here goes to Paul Martin] – I’ve yet to see an “official” list of changes from BMW/MINI):


  • Much improved Antialiased display (no longer ‘blocky’ looking) with smooth scrolling
  • Coloring improved (water, forests, roads, etc – better contrast & much clearer)
  • Car ‘icon’ is now much clearer (white ring, with blue triangle, with shadow)
  • Destination icon is now a Checkered Flag
  • Points Of Interest (POI) icons are now grayscale in white boxes (much cleaner icon design)
  • ‘City Center’ or ‘Suburb Center’ icons are now small grey targets which are much more subtle that before
  • Use of subtle shadows (on road labels, POI icons, car icon, etc.)
  • Street names are easier to read, but only show at scales of 200m or less
  • Landmarks (parks, etc) have a font which looks embossed.
  • When zoomed out, cities are labeled with a small square next to the name (see images).

New ‘Direction of Travel’ viewing mode:

  • Car icon is fixed in its position on the monitor and the map rotates around it
  • Rotation is fairly quick and smooth, particularly at lower scales
  • this works even when zoomed out to 200km, above which it reverts to a ‘North Orientated’ view


  • POI Icons appear at larger scales (start to be seen at 5km scale of 2km)
  • POI Icons can be switched off (Function under ‘Information – General Destinations’ called ‘Disable Icons’)
  • When a POI is selected as a destination its icon is replaced by the flag icon
  • Route List shows list to the destination even if guidance never started and it updates on the fly.

While BMW hasn’t officially announced the update for use in the MINI, I can attest first hand that it does indeed work just fine with our precious little go-karts (and you can see for yourself in the photos). At the time of this writing, I don’t believe that the North American MINI dealerships are even aware of the update. However, with any luck, they’ll soon receive it and you will be able to take your navigation-equipped MINI into your local dealer and have its operating system upgraded.

The update is also now widely available on the Internet and so if you feel so inclined, you can search out a copy of the update CD and install it for yourself. However, please be forewarned that if something goes wrong during
the update, it could potentially mess up your MINI’s navigation computer and you’ll have to take it into the dealership and possibly pay large sums of money to have it corrected. Also, please note that there have been reports of users trying to install the update on the older CD-based (i.e. MKIII) navigation systems and running into problems. Therefore, as far as I’m aware (and unfortunately), the update is ONLY FOR USE IN THE NEWER DVD-BASED NAVIGATION SYSTEMS (i.e. MKIV). The older CD-based navigation systems
probably just don’t have enough horse power under the hood to run the new interface.

If you’re unsure of what version your MINI’s navigation system is, you can easily find out by clicking the “MENU” button located just below your MINI’s navigation screen. Select the “Settings” (or “Set”) menu item, and look in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. If your MINI’s navigation system is CD-based, it will have a number like 3-1/xx. Whereas, if your MINI’s navigation system is DVD-based, it will have a number like 4-1/xx. Where the 3 or 4 is the navigation computer’s model number, the 1 after the dash signifies that your system has a premium color display screen, and the xx numbers after the slash represent the version number of the operating system that’s currently installed on your navigation computer. The latest V26 upgrade will take your DVD-based MKIV navigation system up to version 4-1/60.

All I can say is way to go BMW! This is a substantial improvement to the look and feel of the MINI’s navigation system and you’ve really done a great job with it. I feel like it’s Christmas time and my MINI has just received an all new navigation system from you as a present. Thanks!

Updated! You can now download the official BMW bulletin on the NAV software update here.