MINI’s new generation of cars have a number of high tech features we’ve not seen before. Perhaps the most exciting for those spend time on motorways is the new autonomous driving options. But what exactly does autonomous mean for a MINI and what models get what options? We’ve got details.

For those that turn up their nose at the thought of MINIs driving themselves, don’t worry. We’re not there yet. The system MINI uses is aimed primarily at long stretches of motorway or highway travel that can be monotonous.

Powering this new feature is an array of sensors that give MINI’s ADAS (advanced driving assistance systems) a 360 view that detect and identify everything from people to large trucks. The centerpiece (literally) of this system, is an array of ultrasonic sensors positioned on the horizontal strut. This works in tandem with a suite of 12 sensors in total that give the car vision that sees through everything from the darkness of night to the intense snow.

But unlike recent BMWs this array of sensors is hardly noticeable and is in fact the smallest sensor housing used to date in any BMW Group product. It’s part of a technology package that powers not only MINI’s autonomy features but everything from its new augmented reality navigation to pedestrian detection.

A quick view of MINI’s autonomous driving features in action.

With this system MINI has dramatically improved its active cruise that we’re told will be more weather proof and hehe less faults. It also allows MINI’s new Augmented Reality navigation to be incredibly precise in the complex environments.

But the feature we’re most excited about is optional Level 2 autonomy MINI is calling Active Driving Assistant and Active Driving Assistant Pro. With the Driving Assistant Pro, the MINI Countryman has partially automated Level 2 driving on highways for the first time. If you’ve been following MotoringFile all year you’ll remember us exclusively reporting on this feature last spring.

The sensor housing is the smallest yet offered by the BMW Group

When engaged, Driving Assistant Pro allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel at speeds of up to 37 mph (60 km/h), as long as they have their eyes on the road (as determined by an eye tracker) and are ready to intervene at any time.

The small grey strips in the wheel light-up orange to tell you when the system is working or needs your attention.

We’ve used this system in BMW’s extensively and it really does work as advertised – you can take your hands off the wheel entirely as long as your eyes are on the road. The car will stop, go, turn and even change lanes on command using the turn signal. 

The thin grey strip above “set” is one of the two LED lights that lets you know the system is active 

Once you reach 38 MPH the system switches modes and goes into a more simplistic autonomous setting which requires a driver’s hands to rest on the wheel. However the system works identically, following traffic, the curves of the road and will even change lanes based on the driver using the turn signal. However at these speeds the system requires hands-on the wheel or at least pressure of some kind. 

The all new MINIs have array of 12 sensors discretely hidden in the center of the grille.

This feature has been optional on BMWs for years and in our experience is ideal for stop and go traffic. However MINI’s system adds a new wrinkle as it can identify gaps in traffic needed to change lanes to get to an exit. It then brings the vehicle to the optimum speed for assisted lane changes. The system will let you know when it’s successfully engaged via two green lights on the steering wheel.

When it can’t detect your eyes (in hands-free) or hands (at higher speeds) those green lights being to flash orange. You can see that happen in the second video above as I try to demonstrate that it’s the wheel moving and not my hands.

While MINI is focused on Level 2, hands-free mode intended mostly for traffic jams below 38 mph, it’s the hands-on mode (which works up to 85 mph) that you’ll likely find much more useful. In this mode the system uses a combination of adaptive cruise and steering input to follow well marked highways without intervention. It uses steering the lane guidance assistant, lane keeping, lane change assistant (with active side collision protection) and the emergency stop assistant to create a seamless and safe experience.

We’ve spent 1000s of miles in BMW’s with a similar system and found it to be an excellent feature for anyone who does long stretches highway driving. While it doesn’t take over completely at highway speeds (your hands have to remain on the wheel), it lessens the cognitive load on those long road-trips.

MINI’s Driving Assistant Pro is made up of two options: Driving Assistant (5AS) and the Driving Assistant Plus (5AT). The U25 Countryman will feature the Pro system at launch. While we don’t have clarification from MINI on the availability of this option on the F66 abd J01 MINI Cooper, it will have the same sensor array so it might eventually make it. At launch both cars will only have the Active Driving Assistant option. What does it lack compared to the Pro version?

In short Driving Assistant has adaptive cruise and lane keeping assist. The Pro version does all of this along with Highway Assistant (hands free up to 130kmh on selected highways), automatic lane change, and 3D visualization of the surrounding cars.

For details on pricing and availability in the US check out our buyers guides below:

MotoringFile 2025 (F66) MINI Cooper Ordering Guide

MotoringFile 2025 U25 MINI Countryman Ordering Guide