The Mini has one of the smartest interiors in the motoring world – it’s retro-looking, but easy to use and well built. Space is tight in the back, though
Even if you’re the most resolutely unfashionable person on Earth, you’ll feel cool sat at the wheel of a Mini. There are loads of bits and pieces around the cabin to remind you of the Mini’s origins way back in the swinging ’60s, but there’s plenty of 21st-century technology to bring it bang up to date.
The large, round housing in the centre console is a throwback to the speedo in the original Mini, but in this model it’s home to the screen for the infotainment system. On top of that, you also get sculpted circular air vents and airplane-style toggle switches for several features at the bottom of the centre console.
If that lot still isn’t quite cool enough for you, there’s a seemingly unlimited list of extras you can choose 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 as standard, but you can pick from a couple of part-leather options, and you get a choice full leather upholsteries too.
Beyond that, you can pick from a variety of trim finishes for the doors and dashboard, but where the Mini goes beyond everyone else is in the amount of personalisation you can sign up for.
Online, you can even design your own trim pieces (the indicator inlays on the side of the car, the passenger-side dashboard trim, the illuminated door sills and LED door projectors), which will be 3D-printed or laser-etched and sent to you, for you or your dealer to fit.
To cut a long story short, the list of options is so big that you can just treat the basic car as a canvas on which to express your personality. And, in case you’re worried, these customised pieces can be removed and replaced with the original pieces when the time comes to sell the car.
As you go up the range, the cars do get smarter inside and better equipped, but pretty much everything that’s standard on the range-topping John Cooper Works model is available as an option on the less racy versions. You want the JCW sports seats, sports suspension and roof spoiler on your Mini One, for instance? No problem.
To make matters easier, several of the most popular options come grouped together in packs, although the precise contents of each pack depends on which model you’re adding it to.
No car at this price can match the character of the Mini’s interior - or the amount you can personalise
One of the most welcome pieces of news is that the revisions to the Mini range in 2018 mean that every model has a 6.5-inch colour display right in the middle of the dashboard. The touchscreen menus are easy to navigate through, but the rotary click wheel controller on the centre console is a little too far to reach if you’re tall. Even more frustrating, however, is the fact that, the central armrest in its lowest setting completely covers the click wheel and the handy shortcut buttons.
Bluetooth connectivity is standard, but you can’t get Android Auto at all, regardless of which optional extras you pay for.
If you’re an iPhone devotee, this isn’t a problem, but for Apple CarPlay you’ll still have to pay extra for one of the two optional Navigation packs. The more basic pack isn’t cheap, but the Navigation Plus pack will set you back quite a bit more again. However, you may well think it’s worth the money because the package also includes a beautifully detailed 8.8-inch touchscreen display with 3D graphics, as well as a host of ‘Mini Connected’ services, such as Real Time Traffic Information.
If you add on the Mini Excitement package (included in the Pepper and Chilli packs) the central screen is surrounded by an LED ring that changes colour depending on what the system’s doing and which driving mode you’re in – green for eco and red for sportier setups.
As a further option on top of either package, you can also get a head-up display. And, if the standard stereo (which includes DAB digital radio) isn’t good enough for you, it’s worth upgrading to the thumping Harman Kardon system, which has 12 speakers – including two bass speakers under the front seats.