Refreshed Mini flies flag for Britain

The Mini has been facelifted – and become more of a true Brit, in spirit at least. Expect to see it mid-year.

LED tail-lights that outline in the style of the British flag will potentially be the facelifted Mini’s most obvious update feature, but in fact the BMW-built Brit has a lot more changes.

An automatic transmission update, tweaked engines and a technology lift that spans from - anti-dazzle matrix headlights to improved connectivity and a more advanced infotainment system – are also included with the 2018 facelift range of three-door, five-door and convertible variants.

The revisions have been announced in advance of the cars’ official unveiling at the Detroit motor show this week, but are still some months away from Kiwi consumers.

BMW New Zealand was unable to provide an exact launch date, but did not offer counter-argument when it was suggested this this market would likely be hot on the heels of Australia, which has settled on a mid-2018 release.

This being a time when the United Kingdom is working to cuts ties with Europe with Brexit has not dissuaded BMW from accentuating the car’s British heritage.

The styling revisions meted the 2018 models include new-look Mini badges and Union Jack-design LED tail-lights; both touches straight off the John Cooper Works GP concept displayed at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.

The Union Jack theme is carried through to interior where a backlit motif is now embedded in an optional piano black dashboard fascia on the passenger side.

While BMW NZ has announced the update, it enforces that information so far released about the car is in respect to its international status and does not necessarily entirely reflect the specifications that are even now being worked on for local consumption.

Change under the engine bay mainly involves enhancements to existing powerplants, except at the very entry end where the 75kW 1.2-litre version of the three-cylinder petrol has been axed. Now the powerplant choice starts with a 100kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder.

While the six-speed manual gearbox continues as the base transmission, the optional six-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a seven speeder on the Mini Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper D.

A dual-clutch seven-speed auto with steering-wheel-mounted is coming to the Cooper S, while the most powerful four-cylinder diesel gets an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The Mini retains traditional round headlights, but indicator lights are now a complete LED ring around the outer edge of the main lamp.

Optional LED matrix headlights increase brightness for both low and high beam while automatically adjusting to the road conditions and blocking out glare to oncoming traffic to prevent dazzling.

Inside, wireless phone charging in a console tray becomes an option, while another optional package includes a Mini logo puddle lamp on the driver’s side.

A 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen is now standard, linked with an upgraded steering wheel with more controls. Optional upgrades include sat-nav, now with real-time traffic information and, under the Mini Connected system, automatic map updates via mobile phone connection.

Customisation options have been expanded under the Mini Yours Customised banner, and now include items such as decorative strips for the passenger side interior, LED door sill finishers and LED door projectors.