- The next generation of Mini Cooper and Mini Countryman models will be revealed later this year.
- Ahead of their debuts, Mini invited us to preview the new interior layout and tech suite.
- Mini had an eye on fun when designing the cars, with not-so-subtle throwbacks to the past.
- There's a mode called Go-Kart and the virtual assistant is a tiny British animated dog. Fun, right?
Mini’s New Interior Is Full of Fun Details and Nods to the Past
The next-gen infotainment brings Mini's tech offerings up to par with its competitors
It’s been quite some time since Mini completely revamped its lineup. Thankfully, fans of the compact cars are about to get a lot more to like with the new generation of Mini Cooper and Mini Countryman. Both models will debut in full later this year, but I was invited to Munich to preview the interiors and share with you some of the coolest things I learned.
Mini designers put their best effort into creating a new interior scheme for the redesigned cars. These cabins are quirky, fun, and full of personality — the kind of descriptors Mini likes to use to describe owners of its vehicles. It all starts with a brand-new tech suite.
A new "round" of tech
Let’s talk about the obvious thing here … Mini made a dang circular screen, and it’s strange. In all my years and experience testing hundreds of new cars, I have never seen anything quite like this, which makes sense because Mini is referring to it as the industry's first circular OLED display. Sitting inside a few show cars, the round display immediately caught my attention. It’s about the size of a mirror you’d use to shave or apply makeup, but with an impressively thin bezel when you examine it up close.
The screen itself isn’t huge by modern standards, but in a cabin that’s, well, mini, it looks right at home. When it’s fired up, the OLED display looks crisp and full of bright colors, which are baked into almost every one of the system’s menus and default pages. Mini says the new Operating System 9 is specifically designed for touch and voice control and allows for much quicker interaction overall. Sadly, the mockups we saw in person were all in demo modes, so we didn’t get to see for ourselves how true that is.
The level of customization is quite impressive, allowing drivers to select a mode that best displays their personal preferences. There are eight modes including Go-Kart, which puts a huge speedometer front and center, and Heritage, which turns the screen into a throwback Mini instrument cluster.
There’s also a surprising number of useful built-in features that should help court a younger audience for the new cars. Mini will offer standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with apps like Spotify built in directly, with more planned after launch. With AirConsole integration, passengers can play games on the display using their phones as controllers, and navigation is now cloud-based with charging-optimized routes for EV models. Even the voice assistant is fun — it features a cute little British dog avatar that pops up on the screen when summoned to help with basic functions.
The party's inside
Beyond the fresh new infotainment setup, Mini went to town on the overhauled interior that will grace the Cooper and Countryman next year. It’s a more simple approach that removes some of the fussiness and incongruous details from the current Minis, and at least to my eye, is a huge step forward. The overall dash layout harkens back to the brand’s original models, with a huge single piece of woven fabric that spans the entire width of the interior. Below the aforementioned circular screen is a row of toggle switches to control the climate system and other functions. It’s all very functional and easy to figure out.
But it’s the liveliness inside that really caught my attention. The Countryman I sat in featured a burnt orange color scheme with navy blue accents throughout. Vaguely Denver Broncos looking but, hey, I’m glad the designers were having fun. Even the ambient lighting is unique, projected onto sections of the dash, and configurable depending on which mode the car is in. Not having a gauge cluster ahead of the driver might be a deal-breaker for some, but the optional head-up display helps remedy that. We’ll dig into that further we when we get to review the new Minis in full.
Mini is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the new interior is a fantastic showcase of that. Leaning into customer personalization is a move that’s worked wonders for other manufacturers, so it makes sense to me that Mini is going down this route. If you’re looking forward to these cars on the road, check back in September, when you can read our full first impressions of the new Cooper and Countryman.