MINI tend to stick with a six or seven year life cycle for their vehicles, and then announce a very clunky ‘LCI’ – Life Cycle Impulse. In non-engineer speak, that means an update, or a refresh. Recent world events have had an impact on that process, but at long last, the latest, newest, freshest MINI has arrived.
Better still, this is perhaps the biggest refresh for the MINI since 2004, with the focus being on ‘functionally driven design, inside & out’. As Oliver Hielmer, Head of MINI Design says: “A new design direction”.
“The substance in the current platform is pretty good and the quality is perfect. But from a design perspective we knew there would be a need for modernization inside and out.”
When MINI say functionally driven design, what they actually mean is a cleaner, uncluttered look, that focuses on functionality, rather than adding as many buttons, knobs and widgets as space will allow, believing that it shows off their toys and systems.
It’s a similar story for the exterior also – gone are some of the chrome details, faux vents, and unnecessary details, and in their place comes a fresh new look that is crisp and sharp.
The most noticeable difference being at the front end – an increase in the size of the front grille, with an added body-coloured strip, and new black surround. The spot lamps have been replaced by (genuine) air inlets in the lower section of the front bumper, and the new headlights have a black trim instead of chrome.
It sounds minimal, but the contrast between an outgoing model, and the newer version is stark.
It’s a similar story on the inside – it has a cleaner look, that has been updated with black trim (instead of chrome), and lots of new tech. There’s an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, 5-inch digital instrument cluster, lane-departure warning, redesigned seating and a sports steering wheel (that can be heated).
The black trim helps to give the MINI a fresh, sportier look; it’s a small detail change, something subtle, but the visual impact works well – similar to the outside, small details that change the overall look considerably. The sum of all parts is not equal to the finished product.
But the biggest change isn’t to be found in the styling.
It is optional, but for the first time ever, MINI offer adaptive suspension, and if you’re looking for the full MINI experience (superlative ride and handling), then it’s well worth ticking that box.
Depending on the road conditions and driving needs, the damping force can be reduced by half, which significantly increases comfort and ride, giving better composure over rougher roads. The result is sports suspension that is less jarring, but with no loss in handling – it’s the holy grail of suspension.
That’s not to say the new MINI needs that upgrade, far from it, the engineers at MINI have fine-tuned the suspension to offer the best balance of ride, comfort and handling, but the adaptive suspension just takes it to another level.
The new MINI Convertible is available right now, and if you’d like to see for yourself what the differences are, then contact one of our friendly professionals to arrange an appointment, or to talk through the options and upgrades in detail.