Moving the main dial pack of the 2014 MINI from the centre of the dash to the steering wheel may be controversial, but it is also necessary – because MINI needs to make space for the car’s many infotainment and connectivity options.
Indeed, bosses expect the vast majority of buyers to take on some form of infotainment option pack – meaning few MINIs with the standard centre dial setup will actually be sold.
“Lots of MINI buyers are digital natives,” MINI boss Peter Schwarzenbauer told us. By this, he means younger people who can’t remember life without connected smartphones and touchscreen devices.
“These people generally take all the connectivity you can get – that’s why we expect the vast majority of MINIs to come with some or all of the tech options we offer.”
Because the new MINI is now fully based on BMW architecture, it can now feature its parent firm’s cutting edge infotainment systems. These will include internet functionality and online apps – a MINI smartphone app is also expected.
The new MINI will also be compatible with all major smartphones, and allow devices to be operated through the car’s screens. Schwarzenbauer said this was now “an expectation” of such digital natives – the car is almost a platform and must thus configure with all devices.
It also means the MINI can still offer enhanced functionality to those not willing to pay big money for full-screen embedded sat nav. “It is almost a philosophical point,” said Scrarzenbauer: “how much hardware do we offer and how much can the customer bring on their smartphone.”
The new MINI caters for both scenarios – which is why the rarest new MINI may well be one with no connectivity option at all – a far cry from the original Mini, whose creator Sir Alex Issogonis didn’t even want to put radios in cars…