2014 Mini Cooper: Mini Connected, Powered by BMW
February 26, 2015
One of the design changes for the new-generation 2014 Mini Cooper was the elimination of the distinctive, but often unloved, oversized speedometer right smack in the middle of the dash. This time around, all Coopers have a circular outline fitted with a display screen and buttons. Base 2014 and 2015 Coopers get a basic audio display screen, but when you upgrade to the Mini Connected option (available as a stand-alone option or as part of certain packages such as the Media or Wired packages) you get a larger 6.5-inch screen and a variety of technology upgrades.
Our long-term car has the Mini Connected system. If you're familiar with the newest versions of BMW's iDrive, you'll also quickly realize that Mini's Connected system is just the Mini version of iDrive. I, for one, happen to think this is a pretty good deal.
Mini was offering Mini Connected in the previous-generation Cooper as well, but what we have in our car is pretty much identical to the latest version of BMW iDrive. There is an iDrive-style touchpad controller knob between the front seats as well as a collection of hard shortcut buttons, just like iDrive. Admittedly, that knob isn't ideally located. The gear shifter is perfectly placed for my right hand and the knob is a few inches behind it, so I have to move my arm back more than I'd like. But it's still a lot better than the smaller knob in the previous-generation car.
The Mini Connected screen menu structure is the same as iDrive, which means it flows from left to right to provide more detail and gives the option of having split-screen content. The iPod interface works the same way, as does phone pairing.
I wrote an earlier post about our 328i GT noting how I do enjoy iDrive. So, yeah, I like our Mini Connected system, too. Entering addresses into the navigation system is quick and easy. The iPod interface is smooth and responsive. Phone pairing is a snap. There are plenty of customization and setting options for the car available through Connected, too. Plus, Mini Connected, just like iDrive, is one of the most comprehensive systems out there for smartphone app integration. Social media (Facebook and Twitter) is included as well as a lot of audio and music (Web radio, Pandora, Spotify, Audible and Rhapsody).
Considering how much stuff comes with Connected, I'd certainly recommend looking for a Cooper so equipped if you're shopping for a new Mini Cooper.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,356 miles