Inside, there’s plenty of piano black, especially the surrounding updated infotainment screen, set in the familiar circular housing in the center of the dash. It retains the same 8.8in display as before, but the graphics have a higher resolution, while the operating system is newer and faster acting. You can also customize the display and add widgets for quick access. It all works well, especially when using the handy rotary controller, but the display is starting to look small next to current fashion for larger tablet -style interfaces.
Particularly welcome is the new three-spoke steering wheel, which is well handled and covered with the soft leather feel that it got from the BMW supplier, while the gloss black (natch) multifunction controls is larger and easier to use. Sitting behind the wheel is the same digital dial pack first seen last year the Mini Electric – although in reality it is a hybrid display. The rev counter is actually an analogue counteracting TFT, the illusion that is only shattered when direct sunlight falls on its colored display.
And, of course, there’s an expected upgrade of driver aids, including the optional Driver Assistant Driver adding a ‘stop and go’ function to the adaptive cruise control, along with lane departure warning.
Also new are upgrades to the Mini smartphone app. Not only does it feature standard location and status services (like fuel level or, in the Electric version, coverage), but you can now share car access with up to 10 people. Give them permission and they can unlock, start and drive the car and whenever you need it.
Mechanically, the only real change was the adoption of a new damper design. Called the Intelligent Adaptive Suspension (standard on Sport-spec cars like ours and £ 400 on others), it can be said to be less sophisticated than the electronically selectable set-up in the outgoing car. Essentially, this is a similar system to that seen in the Ford Fiesta ST, with a passive-selective frequency-selective set up that can open the damper valve in as little as 50 milliseconds to reduce damping forces by up to 50% during the fastest and most violent tire impact on the road.