2013 Mini Cooper S Coupe Long-Term Update 5
The Coupe readily delivers whatever entertainment you ask from it, whether it's backfires and pops from the exhaust after you tap that Sport button, or music from the rather robust infotainment system. I gleefully accepted the former, and acclimating to the latter didn't take too long.
At $2250 (combined Technology and Navigation Packages), the system's price falls in line with what's available from other automakers. The interesting thing is if you've driven a BMW with iDrive, you'll recognize a few of the screens. That's because one benefit of being under BMW's corporate umbrella is that the Mini's system appears to have trickled down from iDrive, which is one of my industry favorites.
The system has been modified to match Mini's design theme and smaller size, and it works reasonably well. Where iDrive has a dial controller, the Mini uses a small joystick that has the same eight-direction configuration. But where BMW's system has four buttons that let you select navigation, entertainment, and so on, the Mini swaps that for one shortcut button that cycles through the same sections. It operates seamlessly once you remember the pattern (tap twice to go from stereo to navigation, for example). If you don't like cycling through, there's a home button that calls up the main screen where you can select options with the joystick.
While the design is consistent with the rest of the interior, one downside of shrinking the display is the loss of the split-screen option found in BMWs. I miss being able to look at the map and radio information simultaneously.
Other iDrive features carry over for better and worse. Better: The system doesn't automatically start playing music on your iPhone when you plug it in. (Sometimes you just need to charge your phone.) Worse: The navigation system doesn't show street names on the map as often as it should, making it far less usable as a map, especially in dense cities.
Surrounding the main display is an enormous analog speedometer that's difficult to read during a quick glance. It's redundant too, as the large, wonderfully driver-focused tachometer has a much clearer digital speedometer in the center. The next-generation Mini Coopers do away with the big analog speedo -- a change for the better -- combining it and the tachometer in the space where you'd expect a gauge cluster to be. While I'd miss having the big tach, I'll be interested in seeing how the combined gauge cluster works. Hopefully, Mini will add coolant and oil temperature gauges, too. For how sporty the car hopes to be, their absence is a strange oversight.
More on our long-term 2013 MINI Cooper S Coupe: