If you’ve been reading MotoringFile you’ll know that MINI is releasing two new MINI Cooper models next year; the J01 electric and F66 internal combustion. However one of those isn’t new at all. The new (ICE) F66 MINI is actually a heavily refreshed version of the F56 that debuted in 2013. However the term heavily refreshed couldn’t be more true as MINI has gone to great lengths to make this last ICE powered MINI feel completely new.
Based in spy photos we can see that the new ICE powered F66 MINI Cooper will have nearly an identical interior as the J01 MINI Cooper. That means we’ll see the same design ethos and aesthetic carried over from the circular display, to the dash projector to the textile material throughout the cabin.
Having spent time with this interior on the J01, we know it’s extremely minimal with an entirely new design language. For MINI fans it will be a huge departure from MINI’s retro-futuristic design it’s had since 2001. Simple and round is the theme with the interior dominated by a round 9.5″ OLED display in the center of the dash and bold new materials throughout the cabin.
Like in the J01 MINI Cooper electric and new U25 Countryman, the F66 interior starts with eliminating much of what we’ve come to expect inside of a car. Gone is leather, polyurethane dashboards and even that familiar rectangular screen in the center. In their places are more environmentally friendly materials and simpler forms that feel more connected to the classic 1959 Mini than the 2023 MINI this car replaces.
While we don’t have confirmation of the entire design, we can clearly see elements of the J01 that have made it to the F66. The circular screen, new seats and even the rear view mirror all are straight out of the J01 MINI Cooper electric.
Seen in recent photos is the clear outline of MINI’s new one-piece seats with optional electric adjustment. Again with a focus on simplicity, MINI has eliminated the thigh bolster from the latest generation of sport seats and designed a bottom cushion that extends further outward reducing the need for additional support. I’m 6’2? and have relied on that thigh bolster in every MINI and BMW that offers it. And yet I see how MINI has shaped this new seat to limit the need. No it’s not as supportive but it’s noticeably better than the R50 for R56 seats which also didn’t offer a thigh-bolster.
Also new is a complete lack of leather. Why? You can read our deep dive on the reasons and MINI’s replacement Vescin here. But no matter how you feel about the lack of leather, the feel of its replacement will likely be impressive. We were shocked at the quality – especially the steering wheel as it felt like Nappa leather found on the optional MINI Yours steering wheel.
The New Vegan Friendly Steering Wheel That’s Secretly A Two-Spoke
The new MINI steering wheel, like most elements here, will spread across the entire MINI family as more models are introduced. As the center part of the driving experience MINI has clearly gone to great lengths to hone the look and (crucially) the feel. In hand it feels fantastic with excellent material quality and great feel. Normally this wouldn’t be big news but this is MINI’s first fully vegan friendly model.
One other interesting design note – it may not look it, but MINI has brought back the two-spoke steering wheel is the new MINI family. The center spoke is actually just a piece of fabric that visually connects the rim to the center of the wheel. It may sound like a recipe for disaster in terms of wear and tear but this is very thick and robust fabric that we’re told passed all of BMW’s rigorous durability tests perfectly.
2025 MINI Cooper – Mix Of Digital & Physical Controls
Knowing that the circular display is at the heart of the F66, we can assume that the heating and cooling controls have been moved into the center screen as MINI has gone to great lengths to eliminate physical controls in the line-up. While that is is generally a recipe for disaster for in-car experience, we get a sense in talking to the designers that MINI has learned from the mistakes of brands like VW and even parent company BMW. Our own early hands-on time has corroborated this.
But MINI’s rethink of heating and cooling doesn’t end there. Even the vents have been radically simplified with a design that is both minimal and blends them into the dash. In fact the center venting system is almost completely hidden just below the circular OLED display. But crucially the controls for all the vents (even the hidden ones) are intuitive and designed with a very tactile and satisfying feel based on our hands-on experience with the J01.
One thing MINI will be keeping physical is the gear lever. But just what exact design that takes on is yet to be seen. It could borrow the J01’s design which is a small toggle just below the screen or it could be an evolution of the F56’s center mounted lever. If we had to guess we’d imagine MINI would push to create consistency with the J01 and its ultra minimal approach.
The New MINI Digital Experience & Circular Display
Let’s start with the specs. The circular OLED screen is 9.5” (240 mm) wide however because of the bottom cutout measures about 9” in height. While it may seem like unusual design given the rectangles we’re all used to, it feels very natural in person thanks to the way MINI has organized the information. The “Charismatic Simplicity” design language (as MINI calls it) is focused on both minimalism and a bit of MINI character. The circular OLED display seamlessly accommodates both static and dynamic elements, with a clear and intuitive hierarchy (despite the shape).
The top portion is dedicated to critical driving information which is close to your direct line of sight when looking through the windshield. While we didn’t drive the car we did sit in it for quite awhile and it felt like something we’d get use to within a drive or two. For those opting for the optional Head-up display, vital driving details are projected directly into the driver’s field of view.
The pixel density is so high we couldn’t even see any. But perhaps more important was the responsiveness. While this was a pre-production J01 MINI, the experience was fluid and full of micro-animations that felt immediately more modern than even the latest iDrive system in new BMWs. The experience felt almost at iOS levels of intuitive and the interactions and animations felt natural.
MINI’s Secret Weapon – An All-New Technology Stack
Knowing that the F66 is borrowing the experience from the J01 MINI Cooper and U25 Countryman, we can expect a massive change in technology behind the scenes on the F66 that future-proofs the experience itself.
That future-proofing starts with Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software stack which does several things for MINI. For one it allows MINI to leverage the massive scale of the Android App store which MINI will create their own subset of. But more importantly it allows MINI to leverage the army of Android engineers worldwide meaning that the platform MINI will rely on for future innovation is open and has a bright future. But don’t mistake the software stack as influencing the user experience. That’s 100% MINI’s own thinking and execution built on top of what is invisible but powerful technology.
It’s also important to remember we’re not talking about Android Auto here. That is what is known as projection software. AOSP is the the open source layer MINI’s system is built on. Wireless Android Auto and CarPlay will run on top of it as projection layers should owners prefer that experience.
For a more detailed view of the new MINI Digital experience, read our full review.
An Exclusive Look at the Entire New MINI Models
Most models will receive a notable power increase with the exception of the Euro Countryman JCW and the F66 JCW. Also note that the US will not be getting the Countryman C and will only receive the S and JCW.
|The New MINI Countryman Family||Drivetrain||Pricing||Start of Production|
|U25 MINI Countryman C (1)||167 HP (Petrol)||39.900€||11/2023|
|U25 MINI Countryman D (1)||TBA||42.900€||11/2023|
|U25 MINI Countryman S ALL4||214 HP (Petrol)||45.900€||11/2023|
|U25 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4||312 hp (2)||56.500€||03/2024|
|The New MINI Cooper Family||Drivetrain||Pricing||Start of Production|
|F66 MINI Cooper||155 HP (Petrol)||TBD||03/2024|
|F66 MINI Cooper S||200 HP (Petrol)||TBD||03/2024|
|F66 MINI Cooper JCW||231 HP (Petrol)||TBD||03/2024|
|F65 MINI Cooper 5 Door||ICE (Petrol)||TBD||07/2024|
|F65 MINI Cooper S 5 Door||200 HP (Petrol)||TBD||07/2024|
|F67 MINI Cooper Convertible||ICE (Petrol)||TBD||11/2024|
|F67 MINI Cooper S Convertible||200 HP (Petrol)||TBD||11/2024|
|F67 MINI Cooper JCW Convertible||231 HP (Petrol)||TBD||03/2025|
For more coverage of the new generation MINI, check out the following articles and videos.
MINI Cooper EV: Premier | MINI Cooper EV: Hands-On Review | MINI Cooper EV: Video Review
MINI Countryman EV: Premier | MINI Countryman EV: Hands-On Review | MINI Countryman EV: Video Review
New MINI Family: 1st Look Video | MINI Circular Display & MINI OS9 Hands-On Review