Amid waning demand, Mini piles on standard equipment for 2022
Mini’s been having a rough go of things, even in the U.S., its largest market. Consumer tastes have long been gravitating away from sprightly compacts and toward high-riding SUVs. The high level of customization and style that once allured suburbanites to the cheeky brand hasn’t been enough to salvage Mini’s small cars, and even sales of the Countryman crossover—Mini’s best-seller—have slumped as the brand attempts to control costs. In 2019, before COVID-19 had entered the picture, Mini posted its lowest annual sales figure since arriving on U.S. shores in 2005: 36,165 units.
Now, Mini’s staking its hopes on post-pandemic optimism. For the 2022 model year, the brand is decking out its face-lifted hardtops and convertibles in high-spirited hues and loading them with standard features. Powertrains remain constant, and prices nearly unchanged.
Zesty Yellow—it’s more lime than lemon, to our eyes—makes its debut for the 2022 model year. Island Blue, a cooler shade previously exclusive to the Countryman, is now available on two- and four-door hard- and softtops. Mini faithful may be most excited, however, by the return of Rooftop Grey, a shade originally introduced for the Baker Street Edition (yes, as in 221 B, tobacco-in-the-Persian-slipper Baker Street) to celebrate the 2012 London Olympics. The milk-tea color seems well-coordinated with the minimalist tastes of today’s trendy crowd—especially when specced with the black exterior trim package, which, while not technically new to the ’22 models, blacks out more trim bits than ever before. Sneak a peek at the edgy exhaust:
Mini clearly spent some quality time with the folks at the Oxford paint shop, because new for the 2022 model year is an artsy ombré roof. The blue/white/black gradient effect is achieved by “wet-on-wet” spray technology, which simply means that the shop doesn’t allow colors to dry between layers. We think it looks especially nice with the Island Blue.
Like most products in the BMW Group, the 2022 Mini Cooper boasts an enlarged grille, but its designers tossed in a body-colored panel to break things up. There are other tweaks in the front front fascia from the grille down, too, with Mini deleting the fog lights in favor of slits for brake venting.
The lower-corner cutouts are indeed edgier, but they don’t jive with the softer lines in the Cooper’s face and contrast sharply with the oblong hood scoop. To avoid compromising visibility for aesthetics, designers incorporated a new module into the headlights to compensate for the excised fog lamps.
Out back, Mini Cooper S-and-below models get only mildly tweaked. John Cooper Works models, however, will boast a new and appropriately aggressive rear diffuser.
Mini also jazzed up interior tech and amenities for the refreshed models. First off, infotainment. All Mini Coopers get an upgrade from a 6.5-inch touchscreen to a 8.8-inch unit backed by upgraded hardware and equipped with standard CarPlay (Android Auto remains absent). For those familiar with BMW Group infotainment, Mini says that the system in its ’22 models closely resembles that in the BMW X1 and X2. For the first time, Minis boast lane-departure warnings, and the accompanying chimes and alerts come standard. You won’t see an analog speedometer or tachometer, long-time staples behind Mini steering wheels; all Coopers get a 5-inch digital instrument cluster.
Prices only nudge upwards, even with the added tech. Base (Classic) trims of the Cooper S get a $500 bump; Signature and Iconic trims stay constant. The battery-electric Cooper SE sees no change. JCW models are a mixed bag; the lowest trim (Classic) doesn’t budge, but the mid-range Signature trim jumps $1000 for the hardtop and $750 for the convertible. Prices for top-tier Iconic JCWs remain the same. Hardtop and convertible Coopers (non-S) remain constant.
A few extra goodies join the add-on list: a heated steering wheel, optional on the Coopers and the larger models; and Nappa leather trim, should you wish an even posher wheel cladding. Convertibles get a new upholstery choice, a cross-hatched multicolored cloth that coordinates well with the Zesty Yellow.
You’ll be able to spec a manual transmission on any Mini Cooper except the JCW convertible (and, presumably, the BEV Cooper SE); following a brief hiatus in late 2019–early 2020, the stickshift is back in force. We’ve reached out to Mini as to the availability of a manual in the Countryman and Clubman JCW.
Expect the 2022 Mini Cooper hardtop and convertible range go on sale mid- to late-April, depending on transit times.