What is it?
A new Mini. Well, it’s new in some ways but, in truth, it's largely carried over from the F55-generation car – the third interpretation of this iconic supermini under BMW’s watch – we first drove back in 2014.
Even for a midlife facelift, the changes are minimal and pertain chiefly to the infotainment system and elements of design, some of which are now customisable. It means this Cooper model, which sits between the entry-level One and the Cooper S, still touts 134bhp from a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, although you can now opt for a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission alongside the six-speed manual that comes as standard.
The easiest way to tell a 2018 Mini from a pre-facelift version is by looking at the tail-lights. Should they exhibit a Union Jack motif, that’ll be the new one. The daytime-running element of the standard LED headlights are now complete rings, within which the indicators are integrated. Finally, for £100, it’s now possible to replace the exterior brightwork with piano black trim, which looks rather good, particularly against a new hue known as Emerald Grey. Starlight Blue and Solaris Orange complete the trio of fresh paint jobs.
You might accuse the BMW mothership of contemptible complacency in launching a car so light on revisions, but Mini’s marketers have found that design is the main driver of sales for these relatively expensive superminis. It’s why owners will now also have the option of ordering bespoke inserts for the wing-badges and dashboard insert on the passenger side, as well as laser-etched sill-plates.
The only way to ‘tool up’ for potential manufacturer of numerous single-item parts (there can’t, for example, be many Mini owners called Hal who want a red plaque saying so) has been to invest in 3D-printing. There’s even a sophisticated new online configurator to reflect the multitudinous options.
In manual guise, the Mini 5-door hatch Cooper model costs £18,040, but you can tack another £2000 onto that for the Navigation Plus package that addresses the second most important criteria for Mini buyers: infotainment. You’ll need to tick that box to get satellite navigation, which uses real-time traffic information and features Apple CarPlay connectivity. From July, the system will also be compatible with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.