News : MINI F56 interior papped in China

Keith Adams

MINI F56 interior (2)

Here’s the best visual indication so far that the next generation MINI will be dropping its centre-mounted speedometer in favour of a more conventional item. These new images, which have originated in China reveal a few more secrets of the upcoming car. The new MINI, which will be launched in November, is vitally important for the future of its maker, as its new UKL platform has the potential to underpin one million cars per year, including larger MINIs and BMW 1 Series models.

The new MINI’s general interior architecture looks reasonably similar to the outgoing R56, but as well as losing the centre speedometer, it also gains more conventional (and hopefully higher quality) heating controls and ventilation outlets. In this low-spec model, the centre circular pod is barely filled by its stereo, but we can assume that the high-line sat-nav models will will be far more visually appealing.

The new speedometer with overlapping rev-counter remind us of the early R50 models fitted with twin-pod dials. But it will be interesting to see how existing MINI fans will react to the loss of their centre dial. Owner research by MINI found that most drivers were more than happy using the digital speed display in the revcounter pod on the steering wheel, with a small number admitting they never use the large analogue speedo…

[Source: CarNewsChina and]


Keith Adams


  1. Still think the dash looks a bit ‘busy’, but maybe that’s just me. There is still an allusion to the large centre binnacle that clutters things up a wee bit

  2. All the nice touches are being lost, its less MINI more boring one series! Cramming controls in the centre console just for the sake of it. It could have been done so much neater and nicer and still kept the speedo round the edge. For the first time I feel I cant by a new mini as I just cant live with a crap interior and that before we get to that terrible front body panel. Square vents. Why not just call it the new the One series MINI. Engineering wise it all sounds great pity the styling department have made a huge mistake. The wrong kind of people will by this and the genuine MINI lovers will move on. Fiat Arbarth anyone, it has a fun interior still or the new Audi?????Had my Cooper since new for the last five year and I’m not impressed, its lost its Fun, character. It’s slowly going from a Gem to a lump of coal.

  3. I hope it looks better in the flesh because it looks foul in these photos. An analogy might be the Frankenstein Lego creations my son builds up out of pieces from all his sets. He just keeps adding bits until whatever he had in mind looks about right to him, but the rest of us can’t figure out whether it’s a boat that looks like a fire engine, a house that looks like a boat…

  4. Just looks like familiar BMW componenents in the buttons,switches and instruments. Atra VXR borrowed gearknob.

    I know BMW are the parent,but why cant that interior have a more bespoke feel rather than i saw that button on the radio on the senior partner at the estate agents 3 series?

    It will sell blah blah so its all good for Germany plc.

  5. Nice. Some really neat design features. It looks as if the F56 is going to be the best MINI yet.

    Top work from BMW.

  6. When I test drove an R56, found the digital speedometer to be useful. The centre speedometer means taking your eye off the road, potentially dangerous.
    Also, gives passengers too much information. When you’re doing 60 in a 60 and the passenger goes ‘bit fast’.

    One thing I thought had the potential to break were the chrome electric window buttons, lacked the solid feeling of the chunky buttons on my then Honda.

    One thing – are BMW finally dropping the Rover codes?
    R50 – R56 has became F56.

  7. The current one is truly horrid. This one is even worse. Totally wrong, naff and difficult to use. A great example of style over substance.

    Will sell in droves to those people who must have Gucci handbags & Burberry knickers.

    PS, I’m one of those people who totally hates digital speedometers.

  8. As an owner of a current Countryman, (never again) i am interested to see what the newer version will look like and my god, what have they done, they have taken an awful looking interior and made it even worse.

    The MINI brand has been diluted beyond recognition, and this interior is just pathetic, if the large dial is of no use, then take it out completely, this looks like a child’s attempt to fill the gap.

  9. As a huge fan of the current R56 and previous R50 MINI’s, i am deeply concerned by the absolute dog’s dinner of an interior shown in this photo.

    Never, ever ask the customer what’s wrong with your product. Especially when you have a unique and popular one like the MINI.

    Yes, the ergonomics, central speedo and vent design were less than perfect but apart from not really being all that important, they were part of the quirky character of the MINI. The same character that made the car stand out as a boutique product and made it so popular.

    By refining out the quirks to please the customer clinics while trying to keep some MINI styling elements, you end up with the mess we see in these photos.

    What a shame.

  10. I test drove the current Mini some time a go and couldn’t get on with the central speedo. This then is better, but… it’s just a mess.

    I know VWs are soulless and boring (appraently) but the longer you use one, the better they get.

  11. I’m glad to see that they haven’t changed the steering wheel too terribly much. It has had the thickest, nicest rim from the start. As for the rest of it… The protruding, differently colored lower section looks to take into account future crash standards regarding knee injuries. Not crazy about the non-round air vents, though I’m sure we’ll get used to them. The originals just needed better materials. What’s with the gear lever? The 2003 Mini had the most wonderful gear lever around. It was fat, communicative, tactile. This one looks like a set dresser’s idea for the joystick on the starship Enterprise. The combined rev counter and speedometer look like they belong on a motorcycle. It would have been more Mini to continue with the rev counter with digital speedo reading. Finally, there’s the detailing. Crisp, tailored and way, way over the top… Please, bring back Frank Stephenson!

  12. The big circle that before was occupied by the speedometer now looks silly and totally out of place. Why keep it when there’s no centre speedometer!? Seems like BMW have run out of ideas on how to evolve the MINI design language. A really disappointing interior. The exterior, though, is a small step forward compared to the current version.

  13. @7
    Yes they are finally dropping the Rover codes as this wiil be the first completely new MINI designed by BMW from the ground up.
    R50 – R56 has became F56

    All New MINI models previously had R-series model numbers assigned to them. These are a legacy of the MINI’s original development within Rover Group. Minisport – explains MINI R Numbers:

    Yes…..”its the automatic selector and the low-end spec interior without the large infotainment screen that we’ve heard is crucial to many of the optional features on the new car.”
    See here:

    I will be waiting to see the whole package uncovered officially. While spy shots are an intriguing tease of the final package, I think it’s more sensible to wait and make a judgement based on the actual finished product…

  14. Its the usual over-designed, messy fascia given a minor workover. That said, I guess if BMW did offer the Bini with a conventional dashboard they’d be accused of ‘watering down’ the brand (like they haven’t done that anyway with an increasing plethora of pointless variants).

    Having regular use of an LDV Maxus van (under-rated IMHO) with a centre speedo, I’m not opposed to centre speedos [i]per se[/i], as long as they are clear, with the needle not obscured by other displays, they can be OK. In the case of the LDV, it was (wishfully thinking) there to facilitate provision in LHD and RHD versions, as with the original Mini and the Minor.

  15. What a hideously fussy and over-designed fascia. Mind you, that’s what’s in vogue at the moment so I suppose they’re going with the trend.

  16. *fires up the mystic mog machine*

    “Dear Mystic Mog, a MINI story has been posted on AROnline”

    “The tealeaves left in the workshop tea urn tell me that a stream of negative posts are in your near future”.

  17. The central binnacle now forms a big Mini badge shape when combined with those squarish vents, I think that’s the idea.

    Seeing how the Mini has evolved since the R50 just shows what great work went on in the Rover studios. As time passes, more and more of the subtlety which gave the car its charm is being lost, the form and detail just keeps getting cruder, more Germanic.

  18. @24, I think that is a nice styling touch,its just the bulk of the dash as a whole i cannot reconcile,when i first jumped into the R50 i was amazed how i felt like i was in a mini again,with a fairly simple but modern dash and that small windsceen it felt right,i was never a fan though-even owning a Cooper S works.

    I had a drive in a friends Mk1 Fiesta yesterday and it reminded me how detached we are from the driving experience,ultra sweet gearchange,no power steering and a simple and effective set of controls.

    Now we have heavy over egged interiors and a car that cant be drove without any assistance. They call this progress,i wouldnt go as far as a load of negative comments-that smacks of stifling the debate,i would merely term these comments as a concensus-some more emotive than others.

  19. @21
    “….accused of ‘watering down’ the brand (like they haven’t done that anyway with an increasing plethora of pointless variants).”

    I’m guessing all those pointless variants and badge engineered Mini’s produced by BMC & BL never watered down the brand though…Moke, Elf, Hornet, Clubman, Beach car, etc. 🙂

    Not to mention the far too many to list ‘aftermarket’ variants like the Broadspeed Mini Coupe, Minisprint, Marcos, Jem, GTM, Wildgoose, etc.

  20. @ 14 Chris Sawyer

    I have to agree, having bought a brand new R50 and then an R53 MINI, my interest in MINIs wained immediately after Frank Stephenson moved on. Subsequently, Gert Hildebrand was responsible for some of the very worst designs to ever be attached to a MINI badge. I remember talking to him at the launch of the Countryman where he went to some lengths to explain how and why it was such a good looking car. Yes, really!

    I’ll be interested to see this new MINI / 1 Series hybrid in real life, but I doubt that I’ll be returning to the brand anytime soon. Good luck to the guys that build (most of them) in Oxford, but I’ll be buying from the chaps at Halewood, or Castle Bromwich, for the foreseeable future.

  21. BMW are renowned for their dreadful styling but this looks poor, even for them. Where is the design coherence, the continuity, the flow? I guess it’s what is expected of them but I just hope it’s a success in sales terms for UK PLC.

  22. @23 Richard Kilpatrick

    …and rightly so. The pictures reveal a fussy mess. Citroen have shown with the DS3 how it should be done. Even run-of-the-mill Fords these days have classier looking dashboard layouts than that. It remains me of someone with too many piercings (maybe that is the demographic they are trying to appeal to).

  23. O’h dear – if this picture is to be believed as the new production model – it is in my view all very sad.
    I absolutely love the central speedo and the round vents and the switchgear of my Clubman. The trouble is, for any manufacturer, that a sure fire hit like the Mini is a hard act to follow. They will be condemned if they do nothing and we condemned them when they ‘upgrade’.
    The reality is that very often the purity of the original design can never be improved upon – only changed for fickle fashion’s sake. To put in perspective (styling wise only of course), the latest Mondeo does nothing any better than the earliest Mondeo. It’s all down to that fickle hand of fashion. I love my Mini – I do hope BMW don’t go and muck it up too much or I could be adding another Alfa to the drive.

  24. Over-designed, fussy, tasteless and unlovely interiors are the order of the day. From the hideous 2010 Fiesta interior I had the unfortunate longish-term acquaintance of, to virtually all the kurrent Coreans (whatever their other considerable virtues might be) to the hideous Toyota Auris to, sadly, the upcoming Mini. And that’s just a brief sample from my own experiences. Whatever happened to good taste and economy in design?

  25. Restraint was the word I should have used, not “economy”. But you know what I mean. I don’t mean minimalism, which has never really worked for me. But a restrained, thoughtful, attractive design with an element of timelessness… can anybody suggest any current candidates?

  26. @26, Martin,

    You make a fair point, Sir.

    That said, badge engineering did have its benefits with the ADO16- the VDP version at least was classy in its way, albeit possibly trying too hard to pander to the ‘Hyacinth Buckets’ of its time. Yet a classic real wood interior will always be vastly preferable to nasty ‘stick on’ graphics that were fitted to the MG1300GT (same applies to many Binis too, sadly). It is like the difference between beautifully tailored couture and lots of bared flesh embellished with tattoos.

  27. These pictures show the Mini One or Cooper with a Pepper Pack. Although I love the central speedo on my R56 Cooper SD, I have to admit I never use it. I just hope that Cooper S / Chilli pack models get a better infotaiment system as this one looks a bit low rent.

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