Mini’s concierge tech makes safety calls and gives savoury tips
FINDING the next hip cafe to fulfil smashed avocado hunger pangs has become easier for Mini buyers. The fashion-conscious, brand-savvy crew can tap into the latest technology to call Mini’s concierge service to get restaurant recommendations and directions … or to assist with any other conundrum faced on the move.
In the event of an accident, the tech will call emergency services via functionality adopted from its BMW brethren.
The swag of tech updates to the Mini three-door, five-door and convertible range come with price increases of $200 to $1900.
A manual Mini three-door will now cost $29,900 before on-roads, with automatic transmission adding $2500.
Custom options include individualised doorsills and puddle lights that project a name, signature or logo on to the ground in the dark. Owners can go further bespoke with a customised dash cover or side “scuttles” sending a personal message.
The designs are sent to Germany to be created and when fitted will cost between $80 for projection lighting and $460 for doorsills.
Mini customers don’t mind going beyond the norm and are happy with the signature styling, says Mini product planner Daniel Silverwood, which partly explains why there are no sheet metal changes.
The brand aims for increased street presence, with Cooper S and John Cooper Works derivatives gaining LED lights and Union Jack-design tail-lights — also available in the Active pack on base models for $2500.
Silverwood says the brand maintains its appeal to a niche audience and makes a virtue of last year’s sales tally of about 4000.
“We see a lot of focus on personalisation, which is why there is such a variety of features.”
This midlife update aims to deliver more of what the Mini-set looks for — a statement ride that’s not from the more established premium brands, such as a 1 Series from parent company BMW or a Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
That accounts for very few Minis selling for the $30K base price.
“All the different pieces create the story,” Silverwood says. “Connectivity resonates strongly with the lifestyle of our customers. It’s important we make (the tech) clear to follow and include as much as we can as standard.”
There are five new colours on the palette, extra two-tone alloy wheel choices and, no surprise, contrasting colour roof and striping options. Engines get lighter internals but outputs are unchanged.
The Cooper gearboxes are six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto (the latter upgraded from a six-speed) and the Cooper S gets a seven-speed “sports tuned” auto.
ON THE ROAD
Performance matches the trademark sporty looks — little, if anything, has changed on the bitumen. The go-kart handling, engaging and delightful, maintains the fun factor.
Highway travel is relatively quiet and smooth but coarse bitumen turns up the volume on road noise. Sharp bumps, potholes or rail lines are felt through the compact cabin.
Due to poor sales of diesels, the engine option is no longer available in three-door, five-door, convertible or wagon variants. Only the Countryman SUV has an oil-burner.
Buyers have to part with $2500 for an Active pack to get the latest safety kit, with forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and city emergency braking.
In a base model tested with extras, the price rocketed to $47,000-plus. Ouch.
No matter which Mini you buy, there is one assurance — strong resale value. Minis trump BMWs, Benzes and Audis, keeping the cash for the next smashed avo brunch.
MINI COOPER, S, JCW
PRICES $29,900-$57,900 (expensive options)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 3 years/unlimited km, $1295 for 5 years (OK)
ENGINES 1.5-litre 3-cyl, 100kW/220Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl 141kW/280Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl 170kW/320Nm (quick)
SAFETY 4 stars, 6 airbags, reversing camera, rear parking sensors (below average, option packs add much more )
THIRST 5.4L-7.0L/100km (good)
SPARE None; run-flats (not great)
BOOT 211L-278L (small)