The interior retains the same retro styling theme as before, but it has been greatly improved with new materials and expensive new options. Larger doors help ease entry, although the seats are now mounted slightly lower. There’s greater adjustment to the steering wheel and both front seats, adding to the comfort of those seated up front.
Mini makes a big noise about the overall lift in fit and finish, but it is the ergonomic enhancements that make the cabin a success. Little things, such as the relocation of the main instruments from the centre dial to directly in front of the steering wheel, make the new Mini more intuitive to operate, although it continues to lack for oddment space and the seat adjustment mechanism is incredibly fiddly. However, the increase in dimensions provides added interior space. There’s also a larger 278-litre boot.
Getting acquainted to the Mini's interior
Each Mini is relatively well-equipped, with the entry-level One models come with steel wheels, hill start assist, heated and electrically adjustable wing mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, DAB radio and access to Mini's teleservices as standard. Choose a Cooper trimmed Mini and you get 15in alloy wheels and body coloured wing mirror caps added to the package, while Cooper S models acquire 16in alloy wheels, a unique cloth upholstery, air conditioning, a dual-exhaust system, a bonnet scoop, an LED light ring around the central display, a leather clad sports steering wheel and a sports front seats. Air conditioning is available as a no-cost option on the Mini Ones and Coopers - a box we recommend ticking.
As has become accustom with the Mini buying process under BMW's ownership, ticking options has been made simpler through six packs. Those buying a Mini One or Cooper can opt for the Pepper pack, which adds 16in alloy wheels, a sports steering wheel, floor mats, dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, and height adjustable front seats to the hatchback. Mini Cooper and Cooper S owners can opt for the better endowed Chili pack which adds 17in alloys, a multi-function steering wheel, sports front seats, LED head and fog lights, and a part leather upholstery. Those wanting a sporty JCW looking Mini 5dr hatch can tick the John Cooper Works Chili pack which adds 17in lightweight alloys, a beefy bodykit and sports suspension.
The other two packs, we believe are strongly worth considering when speccing up your Mini 5dr hatch are the Media Pack XL, which adds chiefly sat nav, USB connectivity and enhanced Bluetooth, and the Hatch Tech Pack, which adorns the Mini with rear view camera, rear parking sensors, head-up display, and a Harman Kardon stereo system.
For the first time, the new Mini also comes with the option of electronically controlled damping that offers the choice between Sport, Mid and Green modes. As with the outgoing model, the driver can also sharpen the steering and throttle response via an optional Driver Experience function.
It is clear the Cooper is more delicately balanced, much more smoother riding and even more entertaining to drive. Even the five-door version doesn't affect this sensation too much.
It retains the engaging nimbleness and liveliness of its predecessor around town, but from the very first mile you are aware of greater pliancy and absorption within the suspension, giving a more cossetted feel along with an ability to settle more quickly when faced with nasty transverse bumps. Best of all, though, it has lost none of its high-speed handling prowess.