Tech-tastic new Mini embraces the Android revolution
19th Nov 2013 | 16:45
Tech upgrades for all-new Mini include Android support, HUD display, dual-clutch and more
The wraps are off the new Mini. And it looks a lot like the old one. But don't be fooled, this is an all-new car and it's packed full of interesting tech.
The big story with the this third generation Mini from parent company BMW is inside and under the skin. All-new chassis, new engines, new technology.
We had a quick hands on with the car at the launch and our initial impressions are a big thumbs up. It feels like a significant step forward on the tech front.
First up, they've added full support for Android smartphones. Previously, the Mini Connected multimedia system had been very Apple-centric.
Sure, you could hook up almost any handset via Bluetooth for hands free calls and tunes. But hooking into the more advanced app- and internet-enabled features required an iOS device. No longer.
Elsewhere, Mini Connected looks largely familiar. However, we have heard noise regarding parent company BMW setting up its own app store and it's not hard to imagine a parallel entity for MINI Connected.
Oh, and BMW has added what is essentially an iDrive wheel controller complete with shortcut keys to replace the rather fiddly little twiddle stick used with previous MINI Connected iterations. Hurrah.
Anything else of interest? Well, the cabin has some natty new features. There's now a sort of backlit mood light that surrounds the main dash display. It can act as a rev counter, glowing red and sweeping around the cirumference. Or glow blue when you have an incoming call.
The entire base of the gearchange has been turned into a large toggle for the driving dynamics. Flick it into sport and you'll change the mapping for the steering, throttle and (if fitted) the electronic suspension.
MINI says the latest model also gets a new head-up display, though we haven't seen this functioning. Anyway, overall the in-cabin ambience has taken a nice step up. Minis from BMW always felt premium, but this one feels genuinely special in high-spec format. You're going to feel good just sitting in this car.
As for the driving dynamics, we'll have to wait and see. There's a brand new family of three and four-cylinder engines. The diesel models will be 1.5-litre three-pot only while petrol models will be 1.5-litre three and 2.0-litre four-pot.
All of the engines are BMW sourced. As it happens, we've tried the new three-pot petrol engine in a BMW 1 Series and it's certainly got more character than the droney engine note the current petrol Minis emit. It should suit the car very nicely indeed.
The new engines also have a major impact on both permance and emissions. At one end of the scale, the Cooper D diesel now slips under the critical 100g/km CO2 barrier, notching up a very impressive 92g/km figure.
At the other, the new Cooper S petrol model grows from 1.6 to 2.0 litres and 181bhp to 189bhp. And yet economy is actually a bit better, increasing from 49mpg combined to 49.6mpg. That's a very impressive combo.
Oh and a new dual-clutch robo-gearbox option has been added, plugging the only significant hole in the Mini's powertrain tech portfolio.
As for pricing, it's up by a mere two per cent. The basic Cooper will start at £15,300, the Cooper D at £16,450 while the nippy Cooper S is £18650. Keep your scanners peeled for our first drive in the new year.