The modern Mini brand may be best known for style and fun driving dynamics, but its strongest features could soon be connectivity and infotainment.
From March 2018, all UK versions of the Countryman and Clubman will be fitted with an built-in 4G connection as standard, and made available as an option on both three- and five-door versions of the Mini Hatch and Mini Convertible.
The 4G SIM card won’t allow you to surf the internet from your driver’s seat - yet - but it does offer some genuinely practical benefits that begin to bridge both digital and physical worlds. With the use of a bespoke ‘Mini Connected’ app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone, you’ll now be able to remotely lock your car or seamlessly import a destination into the car’s navigation. On plug-in hybrid versions of the Mini Countryman, you’ll even be able to remotely observe the battery status or pre-set the charging time to take advantage of any off-peak energy rates.
This technology bundle is part of Mini’s hassle-free ‘Navigation Plus’ package, which continues to provide navigation with real-time traffic updates, automatically call the emergency services in the event of a crash and offer Teleservices, a system that monitors your car’s health and books in a service when required. However, it now includes improved integration for Apple CarPlay, allowing you to mirror and control the content on your phone via the car’s infotainment screen, and Concierge. The Concierge service was first debuted on BMW models and, at the touch of a steering wheel-mounted button, allows Mini customers to contact a Mini adviser for address data, research connections or offer practical tips during the journey. Sounds gimmicky but we’ve used the system previously on the BMW 5 Series and it genuinely works. Rather than communicating with a bot, Mini ensures you get to talk to an actual person, in the UK, so you could probably chat to them about Corrie or where to go on holiday and they’d have an answer…
If you're familiar with BMW's iDrive, you won't struggle to find your way around Mini Connected. It may feature its own graphical character and install its high resolution widescreen within a pizza plate-sized dial, but it shares the same basic principle of twiddling a wheel to navigate the main interface and is super user-friendly. The additional services just serve to make the Mini model range even more compelling.