Who would have thought a video feed of what’s in front of you would be so incredibly helpful? That was our first takeaway as we began to venture out into Lisbon roads in the new MINI Countryman SE. However MINI’s new augmented reality navigation is a legitimate game changer and could make MINI’s navigation system the preferred option over even CarPlay or Android Auto.

Before we get into the optional AR functionality, let’s talk about MINI’s new navigation system itself. Built in conjunction with a company called Mapbox, it’s been designed to surpass smartphone apps and typical in-car navigation systems in terms of capability and design. This is particularly evident in the design but also in the way the system renders complex data including 3D building data.

In our experience the MINI’s new mapping software and interface is a dramatic improvement and feels as fast with traffic and data that seemed on par with Apple Maps and Google Maps. That’s due to the underlining system’s flexibility to integrate data from numerous sources and providers and push updates continuously. It was particularly interesting to see how it integrated with the electric Countryman SE by showing range prediction and EV-optimized routing.

The system was also predictively downloading map data so that in cellular dead zones there was a seamless experience.

But it was the design and speed in how it rendered data that was a showstopper. Not only does it fill the entire screen (something neither CarPlay or Android Auto do in their current iteration) but its speed and integration with the rest of MINI OS9 made it feel like the obvious choice as the default mapping software.

MINI’s Augmented Reality navigation is enabled by the same array of 12 sensors that powers its autonomous driving features

Using the new system in both the Countryman JCW and SE we were amazing at how fluid and intuitive it all felt. And then came its augmented reality functionality.

MINI’s new Augmented Reality Navigation

How MINI’s Augmented Reality Navigation Works

Integrating directly into this new navigation system is the optional AR navigation (option 6UQ). The system helps to orient the driver at the precise moment that a turn is coming up by painting directions on the environment itself via the video feed in the circular display.

The augmented reality view sits at the top of the display which we found to be smart placement given that it was closer to our field of view while driving. On the bottom is a top-down map view which is perfectly synced with the video and gives you a full picture of where you are as you get clarity on when and where to turn. It worked flawlessly for us and felt like a game changer for urban environments.

Augmented Reality Navigation: Availability and Pricing

Depending on market this option either can be had standalone or as part of a package. In the US it’s available on the Countryman (ordering guide) as part of the 7ED Comfort Package Plus ($1500) or 7ER Comfort Package Max ($2400) and the F66 MINI Cooper (ordering guide) with the Comfort Package Plus ($1,500).

On the electric J01 MINI Cooper the augmented reality navigation is part of the XL Pack in Germany (8.180 €) on the J01 with the Favoured and JCW Trim. It’s available on the Classic Trim as part of the Large Pack (5.970 €) and unavailable entirely on the Essential Trim.

The forthcoming J05 MINI Aceman will have the same option and will likely be handled in a similar way depending on market.