What's the news?
It's midlife facelift time for the third-generation MINI, or more specifically, the 3-Door, 5-Door and Convertible models, as the company likes to call them. The new exterior design is complemented by additional drivetrain options, an expansion of the digital services that are part of MINI Connected and the new customisation options of Yours Customised, which we reported on recently.
Blink-and-you'll-miss-it stuff here, as MINI has wisely decided not to tamper too dramatically with a winning formula. The headlights are where the main work has gone on, as the standard halogen items get a black insert to give them a slightly different appearance, but available as an option now are Adaptive LED headlights with a Matrix function for high-beam; this is one of those high-tech anti-dazzle systems that can blank out individual LEDs, to maximise illumination and minimise annoyance to other road users. Further luminous goodness comes in the form of ring-shaped LED daytime driving lights and indicators - and panic not if you're looking at the rear light clusters with a rising sense of dread, as the objectionable Union Jacks are not standard fit items; individual markets can decide if they want them or not and MINI Ireland has confirmed that it will not be taking them. No surprise there...
Elsewhere, there's a new MINI corporate logo on the bonnet and boot lid - don't bother straining your eyes looking at it, though, as it's next to impossible to spot the difference between this graphic and the old MINI logo - while the remainder of the changes are restricted to wheels and colours. On the former score, the Roulette Spoke two-tone and Propeller Spoke two-tone 17-inch light alloys are now available for all body variants of the new MINI, while a new design called Rail Spoke two-tone is chucked in for the 2018MY. And there are three additional body colours: Emerald Grey metallic, Starlight Blue metallic and Solaris Orange metallic. There's also the option to choose Piano Black Exterior, which changes the surrounds of the headlights, rear lamps and radiator grille to high-gloss black, instead of chrome.
Principal updates inside are new seat surfaces, interior trims and colour lines, such as Chester leather trim now being available in a fresh hue, Malt Brown. MINI Yours Interior Style Piano Black now comes with illumination, but if you don't think that's enough visual razzmatazz for the cabin, then get involved and busy with the MINI Yours Customised programme, which allows you to put pretty much any design you like into various trims and light sources, making the car as personal to you as you could possibly want.
All three MINI variants also enjoy a new multifunction steering wheel and radio with a 6.5-inch colour screen, USB and Bluetooth as standard, as well as options that now include radio and satnav on a touchscreen monitor, wireless charging for smartphones, MINI logo projection from the exterior mirror on the driver's side and MINI Connected and MINI Connected XL with extra functionality. That steering wheel, by the way, now has the speed limit function on the left-hand spoke and audio/communications controls on the right, while the new Connected features are Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), MINI Online and Apple CarPlay preparation.
MINI says it has made multiple detail changes to the turbocharged petrol and diesel three- and four-cylinder engines in the 3-Door, 5-Door and Convertible families, leading to a reduction of up to five per cent in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions across the board. Development of the cylinder blocks, the TwinPower Turbo technology, the engine management, the oil supply, the air intake ducting, the cooling systems and the exhausts have led to the improvements, while the powerplants are now also lighter - the engine covers are made of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), consisting of carbon fibre 'recyclate' used in the production of BMW i vehicles.
There is a big change for the One First and One models, though, which is the adoption of the larger 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, as opposed to the PSA-sourced 1.2-litre motor they formerly employed. That sees torque rise by 10Nm on each, to 160Nm on the First and 190Nm on the One. Additionally, all petrol engines now feature petrol direct injection with the maximum pressure increased from 200 to 350 bar.
For the 3-Door and 5-Door cars, there are seven engines (four petrol, three diesel) available, ranging from the 75hp One First up to the 192hp Cooper S on the petrol side, with the 95hp Cooper D kicking off the diesel range, which culminates in a 170hp Cooper SD variant. For the Convertible, there is no One First model, so just six engines are offered - the lowest-powered petrol being the 102hp One.
As previously reported, a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is drafted in as an option on the One, Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper D models, with the Cooper S also available with a 'Sports' version that comes equipped with paddle shifts. The Cooper SD gets the eight-speed torque-converter automatic as standard, which also has a Sports paddle shift option. All MINI Steptronic transmissions, be they twin-clutch or torque converters, have a coasting function in Mid and Green driving modes, while the latest auto start-stop functionality is fitted to all MINIs.