MINI sales in Australia are on the up in 2018 and now dealerships are taking delivery of a range of updated and refreshed models.
I got along to the Australian launch of the updated MINI offerings and came away confident things were going to continue to be on the up for the German-owned British brand in our market.
Some of the highlights of the MINI update, involving three-door, five-door, and convertible, include the addition of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and new LED lighting, including funky new taillights (photo below).
Even the MINI logo has had a refresh – simplified with 3 lines either side of the central MINI roundel.
While the 2018 update includes the discontinuation of diesel-powered variants – though a diesel will remain available, for the time being at least, in the Countryman.
Prices kick off from $29,900 and top out at from $59,900.
Nothing major has changed on the outside, though there is a new MINI logo and the aforementioned LED lighting.
The new lighting system includes daytime running lights and fully adaptive automatic high beam (optional on the entry level Cooper, standard on Cooper S and John Cooper Works).
For anyone who hasn’t experienced adaptive LED headlights, it can come as a revelation – stronger lighting for you and yet no dazzling the eyes of drivers of oncoming vehicles.
But the highlight has to be the sensational Union Jack tail lights that celebrate all that is British.
Inside, MINI continues the quirkiness that we’ve all come to expect.
A welcome addition is the MINI Connected system and this uses an inbuilt 4G sim card to help you access info like real-time traffic information and help you plan a trip based on traffic flows for the best drive.
It doesn’t stop there, there’s also a concierge that will suggest things like dinner locations, while the related app on your smartphone will allow you to carry out remote actions such as locking or unlocking the doors from anywhere in the world!
The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is now standard across the MINI range, is very welcome.
Another welcome change relates to the head-up display – it now projects your speed and other info onto the windscreen rather than the previous, rather tacky, plexiglass pop-up panel.
The MINI cabin is unique, turning away from the sameness which has infiltrated car design in recent years.
The seating is comfortable and snug and regardless of the fact that MINI has grown over the years, it is still a small city car.
Standard kit in the entry-level MINI Cooper includes:
- Six airbags
- Auto stop/start function
- Keyless engine start
- 16″ alloy wheels
- Six-speaker stereo with digital radio
- 5″ touchscreen
- Sat-nav/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Reverse camera with guidance lines
- Auto headlights
- Rain sensing wipers
Stepping up the range to the Cooper S brings 17″ wheels, different drive modes, larger touchscreen and wireless phone charging.
The sporty John Cooper Works variants get dual-exhaust tailpipes, 18″ wheels and adaptive suspension.
Not surprisingly, like all European cars, there’s a vast range of options and options packs available across the MINI range.
Once again, MINI offers the three-model range with three-different engines:
- 1.5 litre turbo- petrol 3-cylinder producing 100kW/220Nm – Cooper
- 2.0 litre turbo-petrol 4-cylinder producing 141kW/280Nm – Cooper S
- 2.0 litre turbo-petrol 4-cylinder producing 170kW/320Nm – JCW
Transmission choices open to MINI buyers include six-speed manual and optional seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
While the JCW variants can be optioned with an eight-speed automatic transmission and while a manual will always be my choice in a car like this, the slick eight-speed auto is a thing to behold.
The ride feels slightly improved. MINI has always tended to the firm side and the JCW continues this theme.
Naturally, Cooper and Cooper S models are slightly more supple.
I’m glad to say that the updated MINIs have lost none of the roller-skate feeling that has always endeared them so much to their owners, and that is a good thing.
JCW spits and pops as it moves through gears and backs off the accelerator. The sound track adds a touch of “cool” to your trip to the shops.
While rev matching makes rapid downshifts less of a frantic experience.
The MINI Cooper three-door hatch comes with just a four-star ANCAP safety rating, the rest of the range is yet to be rated by the testing authority.
- Handsome looks
- Fun and funky cabin design
- Excellent handling
Not So Good Bits
- Extensive range of costly options
- Rear seat cramped
MINI is, and always has been, a car that is more than the sum of its parts.
It is an experience vehicle that imbues its owner with an aura of personality. The list of attributes is a long one, and the list of options even longer.
Facts and Figures: 2018 MINI range (update)
- Engines: 1.5 turbo-petrol producing 100kW/220Nm, 2.0 turbo-petrol producing 141kW/280Nm, and 2.0 turbo-petrol producing 170kW/320Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, eight-speed auto, seven-speed DCT auto
- Safety: 4 stars (MINI three-door hatch)
- Warranty: Three Years
- Origin: United Kingdom
- Price: from $29,990