Of all the fresh ideas we see on the new generation of MINI’s perhaps the most unique is the circular display that dominates the interior. Along with its operating system MINI OS9, it’s an a fresh take on all the rectangular screens and generic UI we see in most other new cars. But how does it work and is it actually good?

Over the past 9 months we’ve had a chance to use the new display and MINI OS9 quite a bit. Our first time was in an early production prototype J01 MINI Cooper EV last June. The OS wasn’t finished but what we saw, even in those pre-beta days, was incredibly impressive. But it wasn’t until the U25 MINI Countryman JCW preview in November that we got a chance to dig into the OS and really use it.

What you see above is our first full look at MINI OS9. We did everything from open apps, dive into system settings and even set-up Apple CarPlay. While this version was in early beta phase, we still found the system to be responsive and overall a delight to use.

But it wasn’t until February of this year that we finally got behind the wheel of a MINI with the new Circular Display and MINI OS9. As you can imagine sitting and exploring the system is one thing. Using it while driving is a completely different equation. And it’s here where the Circular Display and MINI OS9 became more than just eye candy

As you can see in these series of video, we tested a number of different features on the car in the real world and on real roads.

What you’ll notice in all of these videos is how easy the experience is to use. This was the first time I had driven the car and the fact that I could so effortlessly unlock all of this functionality through MINI OS9 speaks to the intuitive nature of it all.

The Circular Display and MINI OS9 will be standard on all new MINIs from the all-new 2024 Countryman,  F66 ICE MINI Cooper, J01 Cooper EV and eventually the 2025 Aceman EV.

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). 

mini os9

This is all made possible not just by talented strategists and designers but a very thoughtful technical approach leveraging Android. Yes you read that right. But it’s not the Android you all know. It’s actually the 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 of which MINI will create their own subset. 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.

The Circular Display and MINI OS9 will be standard on all new MINIs. While functionality like Augmented Reality Navigation will be optional, most of what you see in the videos above is standard.