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.