The Mini has one of the smartest looking interiors in the car world – it’s retro looking but easy to use and well built. Space is at a premium, though
Even if you’re the most resolutely unfashionable person on Earth you’ll feel cool sat in the driver’s seat of the Mini. There are loads of cues to the swinging-’60s heritage of the original Mini along with plenty of kit that brings it bang up to date.
The large, round housing in the centre console would have housed the speedo in the old car, but encases the infotainment system in the new model, and you also get sculpted circular air vents and airplane-style toggle switches.
If that lot doesn’t sound quite cool enough for you, there’s a seemingly unlimited list of interior extras you can use to make the Mini’s cabin your own – even if you pick a basic One or mid-range Cooper model. These come with black seat fabric and black plastics as standard, but for around £1,500 you can choose from four leather trims, £125-300 lets you pick from a variety of six trim finishes for the doors and dashboard, and there’s also a range of four base colours – black is standard, Satellite Grey, Dark Truffle and Glowing Red are £75 upgrades.
Sporty Cooper S and Works cars get sports seats fitted as standard and black chequered trim pieces, and you can pay to add all these things as options on the less racy models.
No car at this price can match the character of the Mini’s interior
Upgrading your Mini’s infotainment system is almost an essential because the basic version has a small orange screen that immediately dates the interior by 10 years.
For £300 you can swap it with the Mini Visual Boost, which dumps the cheap-looking screen in favour of a 6.5-inch colour display that’s easy to control on the move via a fixed knob located between the two front seats. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems aren’t available, though, so for integrated sat-nav, you’ll have to spend a further £595 on Mini Navigation.
To get the top-of-the-range sat-nav – called Navigation System Professional – on the basic model, you’ll have to equip a range of other options – including a front-centre armrest and active cruise control – which pumps the price up a princely £1,800.
Nevertheless, it is worth the money because it buys you a beautifully detailed 8.8-inch display with 3D graphics and a 20GB hard drive. The screen’s surrounded by an LED ring that changes colour depending on what the system’s doing and, with a little imagination, makes it feel like the car is communicating with you.
If befriending a lifeless object isn’t for you, it’s worth upgrading to the thumping £590, 410W Harman Kardon stereo, which has 12 speakers – including two bass speakers under the front seats.