Yes, the talking Mission Control is pure gimmick, but it's a novel concept in a novel car, and there's always the off button when you've had enough. Interestingly, Mini has simply provided the sound files on an SD card in the upper glovebox. As my casual, half-hearted hacking proved, the Camden can also be reprogrammed to say whatever the heck you want it to say. Just pop out the SD card and drop on a few strategically named MP3 files. So while a Mini that talks like Knight Rider's KITT may not be any less annoying, it may satisfy your inner nerd that much more. I imagine some Camden owners will eventually take the time to develop more complete packages of new voices.
As others have mentioned, $4500 seems like a steep price to pay for the Camden package, which adds seventeen-inch wheels, sport seats, foglights, premium audio, and the unique color scheme. That paint job, though, is largely lost on me, and the premium audio is ruined by the interrupting trio of digital passengers. Of course, you can't argue with the exceptional driving dynamics of the Mini Cooper, all of which are still intact.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor