In-depth reviews

MINI hatchback review - Interior, design and technology

MINI offers an array of personalisation options, but the costs can soon add up

Given the huge sales success of the first two generations of MINI, it’s no surprise that designers have played it safe with the latest car. In fact, at a glance it looks identical to the last one. But dedicated fans of the brand will notice the slightly more bulbous proportions and the larger front and rear lights.

The five-door model gets rear side doors with frames, rather than the three-door’s frameless ones, plus an extra 72mm between the front and rear wheels, and 89mm more at the very back to boost the boot. It’s not as pretty as the three-door – and, frankly, looks a bit of a mess if you take in the details for too long – but somehow it still works as a whole.

MINI has been bold as usual with the new car’s interior, and the eye-catching design still features plenty of retro touches. But there’s nothing retro about the driving position – as per the preceding two BMW-era MINIs, this one comes with a highly adjustable chair and steering wheel combo that ensures anyone can find a near perfect setup. 

Much of the switchgear has been relocated compared to the outgoing model's interior layout. The familiar line-up of toggle switches is still on the centre console, but the window buttons are now on the doors, while a BMW-style iDrive controller sits between the front seats, replacing the old car’s joystick.

As with every MINI there’s huge scope for personalisation and myriad cost options, ensuring that you can at least feel like your MINI is unique – but it all soon adds up to one expensive MINI. The One comes with 15-inch steel wheels as standard but you can upgrade to alloys up to 18 inches, while fripperies like contrasting roof colours, mirror caps and various vinyl stripes and patterns can all be specified.

Most owners will opt for Sport or Exclusive ‘Style’ options, which both add 17-inch alloys, cruise control, sports seats and various unique styling upgrades over the standard Classic models.

The MINI Electric is offered in three individual 'Levels' of trim. Level 1 includes auto air conditioning, cruise control, the navigation pack and auto headlights. Upgrading to Level 2 brings power folding door mirrors, a rear-view camera and heated front seats, while Level 3 adds LED headlights, a Harman Kardon audio system, an enhanced nav system and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Dominating the dash is a large, circular display for the infotainment and optional sat-nav. In characteristic MINI style, its theatrical outer ring is illuminated and acts as an additional multi-colour display, mimicking various things including the speedometer, stereo volume, or flashing when the driver’s attention is required.

Based on BMW’s iDrive setup, the MINI’s infotainment is good. All cars come with at least a 6.5-inch infotainment display, which can be upgraded to a larger 8.8-inch touchscreen unit, with the latter offering particularly good image quality, sat-nav and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Android Auto is not supported, however.

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