MINI facelift for 2021: first look, spec and prices

  • The miniest MINI gets a facelift for 2021
  • Three-door, five-door, Electric and Convertible all refreshed
  • Technology upgrades increase appeal

If the original MINI was known for staying still for decades, the same accusation cannot be levelled at the new MINI. Just two years after the current generation made its debut - famously with Union Flag lights - it's been given a shiny new makeover and some shiny new tech.

Not everything is shiny, though. The word of the day for the 2021 MINI is, well, minimalism. Simplified shapes, more integrated lighting with less clutter, and less chrome on the inside and out aims to give the MINI a pure aesthetic that ensures the focus is on the profile and curves, rather than on the bling.

2021 MINI facelift, Chili pack, red

This facelift unifies all versions of the smallest MINI - the Hatch in three- and five-door forms, the Convertible, and the Electric (which for now, remains strictly a three-door) - with a cohesive look and consistent colour and trim options. It also updates the tech and brings the engine range in line with the latest emissions standards.

What's on the outside of the new MINI?

There are no major body changes for the 2021 MINI, but that doesn't stop this being quite a dramatic facelift. For starters, the distinctive 'sidelight' style lights at the front (a direct callback to the 1959 original) have gone.Now the indicators, cornering lights and daytime running lights are incorporated into new oval headlight clusters.

These can be specified with a dark finish instead of chrome, further modernising the MINI's look.

2021 MINI Electric facelift

It isn't just the look that's modernised. With the appropriate options, the MINI can now be equipped with LED-matrix adaptive lighting, including poor weather beams and cornering lights all in one unit.

The resulting smoother bumper, with improved aerodynamics, blends into restyled arches for a more cohesive look with greater use of body-colour elements. However, one aspect hasn't been trimmed back, and that's the grille.

Retaining some of the classic MINI hexagonal shape, the fascia's most dominant feature is bigger and bolder, yet the grille looks less prominent thanks to a body-colour strip in the middle. Lower air intakes are larger, echoing the John Cooper Works GP style, and both front and rear bumpers have received tweaks for improved aerodynamics for economy as well as a new style.

2021 MINI Convertible, yellow

Further distinquishing the 2021 MINI is an expanded colour palette, including  Island Blue (previously restricted to the Countryman), Zesty Yellow for the Convertible, and Rooftop Grey on all models.

A new paint process for the Multitone roof, with a three-layer 'wet' spraying technique, ensures no hardtop MINI with the option will match another (and paint repairs will be a source of stress for years to come).

MINI five-door 2021 front view

Contrasting against the new shades, a Piano Black trim package renders the modernised winged padge and bootlid script in black, to match the blacked-out chrome trim and mirror covers.

MINI five-door 2021 front view

Can the MINI be personalised any further?

Of course - it's a cornerstone of the MINI brand, and 2021's fashion-conscious buyers can select from new finishes and accessories in Classic, Sport and Exclusive trim selections.

Sport models now include rear parking sensors and adaptive suspension, and can be specified in Chilli Red alongside the Piano Black exterior trim. Exclusive trim can select Enigmatic Black paint, with antracite headlining. The Convertible comes with the Union Jack Soft Top Roof as standard, too.

Differing slightly from the options for the MINI Hatch and Convertible, the MINI Electric comes with Level 1, 2 or 3 options, including features such as roof rails, active cruise control, or leather upholstery and Piano Black exterior trim. However, marking the 2021 range is a new MINI Electric Collection, which comes in Island Blue or Rooftop Grey with colour-shifting Multitone roof and the full Level 3 specification.

MINI Multitone roof, 2021 Electric Collection

Limited to just 300 examples in the UK, it also features exclusive Electric Collection 17-inch wheels and exterior graphics, and the no-cost option of having a panoramic glass roof instead.

What's inside the new MINI?

Upgraded tech dominates the refreshed interior. In front of the driver lies a standard-fit digital display panel which is now standard on all models, having been introduced on the MINI Electric and John Cooper Works GP.

MINI Cooper S interior, 2021 facelift

The distinctive central display remains, with an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system powered by a refreshed operating system for a wider range of capabilities, including app connectivity and an improved multi-function steering wheel. You're more likely to notice the new mood-themed colour schemes, though, working in conjunction with ambient lighting.

Here's the 2021 MINI engine line-up

As the MINI Electric is a stand-alone model, its 184hp electric motor is only available in the three-door body style. However, across the MINI Hatch in three- and five-door form, and the MINI Covertible, you can choose three- or four-cylinder engines of 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre respectively, but unusually, the most powerful John Cooper Works is currently only offered as a Convertible.

MINI Cooper S exhaust, 2021 facelift

This means that you can have a three or five-door MINI as a 102hp One, a 136hp Cooper, or a 178hp Cooper S, or a MINI Cooper Convertible with 136hp, 178hp Cooper S, or 231hp John Cooper Works.

All engines conform to Euro 6d emissions and are available with a six-speed manual gearbox or optional automatic.

Will the 2021 MINI drive differently?

For the most part, this is a facelift and you can't expect much to change from behind the wheel. However, higher-specification models get the option of adaptive suspension; a first for the MINI Hatchback family. Having spent that much, you'll probably be expecting more of your MINI's driver assistance as well.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, there's lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control available as part of the new driver assistance package. This includes the traffic-jam friendly feature of stop and go when paired with an automatic gearbox.

2021 MINI prices - from £16,045 to £36,420

Taking the entry-level engine for each model the MINI Hatch costs £16,045 for a three-door 102hp MINI One, and £16.745 for a five-door. The automatic option adds £1,400.

The MINI Convertible starts at £20,705.

If you want a MINI Electric, the range starts at £27,920, with the special edition MINI Electric Collection at £36,420

What this means for you

Well, right now it means you may want to hold off on ordering that new MINI - at least until you know what your preferred specification's going to look like, or you might be inclined to go looking for a discount on the existing model.

Take a look at how they compare:

2018 MINI vs 2021 MINI facelift, front

In the longer term, it means there's another option for your premium car, if you want some luxurious or sporty touches without needing to get a bulky vehicle - and likewise, the entry-level MINI has cleaner emissions and more technology.

Adaptive damping and adaptive cruise control should deliver the same convenience and comfort you'd get in a car the class above; well, size above at least. You won't save money getting a MINI instead of a Mercedes - but you'll get something small, agile and city-friendly that's less stressful on the motorway too.

Parkers will be among the first to drive the facelifted MINI range, so keep this page bookmarked for the latest news and views.

Further reading:

>> How do we rate the current MINI range? Read our MINI Hatchback review

>> What's it like living with a MINI Cooper? Here's our long-term test

>> Learn how much your car is worth with a Parkers valuation