The New MINI Has Arrived: This Is What You Need To Know

The MINI has been a huge success story for BMW. Loathed though it might be by tweed-capped types who fume at the German firm's use of the name, it's done one thing the original never could: Make a profit.

Amazingly, the MINI has now been around for twelve years, and this third generation model avoids straying too far from the winning formula. This is what you need to know about the latest-generation MINI.


New MINI front angle

Some will be getting a little bored with that formula by now and it's true that even at a glance the MINI looks little different from its predecessor. BMW has painted itself into a corner as far as the car's design goes, an issue Fiat and Volkswagen will have with the 500 and Beetle in the followingyears.

At a glance the new MINI is a little more curved than before, with a new low 0.28 coefficient of drag. Its headlamps and windscreen are less upright, there's a greater bodywork to glass ratio and in profile, the wheels are a little less pushed to the corners than they once were.

New MINI rear

At the back, the rear lights have grown significantly, but otherwise there's little different here. Evolution, not revolution.

It's all a little less cohesive than it was before, but only if you're being picky. It still looks like a MINI, it's instantly recognisable, and people will still buy it in droves.


New MINI dashboard

Little is markedly different in the cabin either, at least visually. A sporty three-spoke steering wheel remains, there's still a dinnerplate-sized instrument cluster in the centre of the dashboard and you still get a row of neat little toggle switches for various minor functions.

It's in the details that the new MINI is different. We've seen the last of the central speedometer - that dial is now relegated to the steering column, where it'll be far easier to read at a glance.

New MINI boot

The centre space is now used to house displays from 4 to 8.8-inches in size, as well as switches and controls for all the infotainment functions. BMW has once again stepped up the quality but overall most MINI drivers will be quite familiar with the new car's innards. What may be less familiar is the increase in boot volume - 211 litres, 51 more than before - and rear seat space.


New MINI side

Perhaps the biggest changes can be found under the bonnet of the new MINI.

Central to the new range is a duo of three-cylinder engines, both petrol and diesel. The former will feature in the MINI Cooper in turbocharged form, though it's likely that non-turbo versions will form the basis of MINI Ones, Firsts and other lower-ranking models as the car is rolled out.

1.5 litres in capacity, it pumps out a modest 136 horses and 220 Nm of torque at usefully low revs, and reaches 60 mph in under eight seconds whether you go for the manual or automatic transmission.

New MINI front

The three-pot in the Cooper D is very nearly as sprightly. Just 9.2 seconds are needed to complete the benchmark sprint, courtesy of another 1.5-litre unit. Power here is 116 hp, and torque a solid 270 Nm.

Topping the tree is a new two-litre four-cylinder in the Cooper S. Turbocharged, it develops 192 horsepower and hits 60 in only 6.8 seconds - and you can bet that Cooper Works and Works GP models will follow at a later date.


New MINI cabin

All the new engines are as frugal as you'd hope. Even the junior hot hatch Cooper S will return up to 54 mpg; the Cooper tops 62 mpg combined, and the diesel just breaks the 80 mpg barrier.

All of these figures depend on the tyre size specified. MINI owners like to spec-up their cars and bigger wheels will harm the economy a little.

Low CO2 figures all around will keep car tax and BIK tax figures down. Cheapest of all, unsurprisingly, is the diesel - as little as 92 g/km of CO2 will filter from its tailpipe. The Cooper just misses out on free tax with a 105 g/km minimum, while the Cooper S will cost you 105 a year, free in the first year.


New MINI switches

There's a host of new kit available in the new MINI range.

Most intriguing for keen drivers is a system we've only seen before on the Nissan 370Z and a couple of recent Porsches - rev-matching for the manual transmission, blipping the throttle on downchanges. Manual gearboxes are six-speed, as is the auto.

Sport, Mid and Green modes are now included for adjusting the steering and accelerator response, the latter also decoupling the transmission on the automatic when coasting.

New MINI wheel

It's positively loaded with driver assistance systems, from camera-based active cruise control and collision detection, to high beam assistant and road sign recognition. Interior comfort features abound - if you can name it, it's probably available in one form or another - and all the trademark MINI exterior flourishes and personalisation packages make another appearance too.


New MINI duo

Expecting radical changes from MINI is always going to lead to disappointment, but those already fans of the brand and its cars will find plenty to like here.

In effect, BMW seems to have found the same balance as its compatriots Porsche and Volkswagen with their 911 and Golf - once the basics are right, only detail changes are required with each new model and customers will continue to flood in.

If the MINI keeps its trademark handling and offers improvements in real-world efficiency, it'll once again become a must-buy supermini - though equally, there's nothing new here that'll impress the haters, either...

comments powered by Disqus