New BMW Mini Convertible launches in the UK with less "mini"

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The MINI Convertible is the best-selling convertible in the United Kingdom(Credit: BMW)

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Entering showrooms in March 2016, BMW has unveiled a new MINI Convertible with an automated top and four trim lines. Highlights include a fully electric retractable roof, more cargo space, and new exterior design. These come thanks to the car gaining dimensions in all three directions.

The MINI Convertible is the best-selling convertible in the United Kingdom, which is saying something since despite its reputation for bad weather, the UK is one of the largest markets in the world for convertible cars. The previous-generation MINI Convertible was introduced in 2009 and is still the only four-seat convertible small car on the market. For this new model, though, BMW decided to feed the MINI some burgers and expand its girth.

The new MINI Convertible is 98 mm (3.9 inches) longer, 44 mm (1.7 inches) wider, and 1 mm taller. That adds 28 mm (1.1 inches) to the MINI's wheelbase and 42 mm to the front track width and 34 mm to the rear track (1.6 and 1.3 inches respectively). Each model is slightly different in length from the others, due to differences in fascia trim at front and rear. The base model and Cooper D Convertible models are the smallest, the Cooper S Convertible in the middle, and the John Cooper Works Convertible is the longest.

Most of this size expansion was done to improve boot (trunk) and passenger space. Cargo volume was increased by about 25 percent to 215 liters (7.6 cf) with the roof up and 160 liters (5.7 cf) with it down (stowed). Back seat space is also more accommodating, thanks to more clearly defined seats in place of the more bench-like design in the previous generation MINI.

Four trim levels are available along with a limited edition MINI Open 150 edition, whose Union Jack roof top is available as an option on all other MINI trims as the "MINI Yours" option. Only 150 of the limited edition Open 150s will be made, and all will be sold in the UK only.

As before, all of the powerplants in the MINI Convertible will vary by model trim. The base model uses a 1,499cc (1.5L) three-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 136 horsepower (100 kW) and 162 pound-feet (220 Nm). Top speed is 129 mph (208 km/h) and fuel economy is rated at 55.4 mpg (British) or 5 l/100km. The MINI Cooper D Convertible is the diesel variant, utilizing the same sized engine (1,496cc) but with outputs of 116 hp (85 kW) and 199 lb-ft (270 Nm). Top speed is 121 mph (195 km/h) with fuel economy rated at 70.6 mpg (British) or 4 l/100km.

Sportier options include the MINI Cooper S Convertible with its 1,998cc (2.0L) engine turbocharged to produce 192 hp (141 kW) and 207 pound-feet (280 Nm) of torque. Top speed in the S is 143 mph (230 km/h) and fuel economy is rated at 46.3 mpg (British) or 6.1 l/100km. The John Cooper Works Convertible model uses the same engine with a 231 hp (170 kW) and 236 lb-ft (320 Nm) output. Top speed in this model is 149 mph (240 km/h) with fuel economy rated at 47.9 mpg (British) or 5.9 l/100km.

All four models are front-wheel drive with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. This transmission includes "active engine speed adaptation" for shifting, which is very similar to rev-matching. A six-speed Steptronic automatic is also available and includes steering-mounted shift paddles and Launch Control. Auto stop-start is standard in both transmissions.

BMW did keep the unique chassis of the MINI intact for this larger, new-generation car. The single-joint strut front axle and multi-link rear remain and a sport-tuned suspension is available on all MINI Convertible models as an option. Variable Damper Control is now an option as well, giving more control over the suspension dampers for better handling or more comfort. Electro-mechanical power steering is standard equipment.

The John Cooper Works Convertible includes Brembo-made braking made specifically for this new MINI and both the S and JCW convertibles have new electronic differential lock control on the front axle to change wheel spin in tight cornering for increased control.

Another new addition to the new MINI is invisible rollover protection, with safety cage elements hidden behind the rear seats on automatically-deployed actuators. The two protection bars deploy when the car detects a risk of rollover.

Park assist technologies for radar detection and a rearview camera are standard on the new MINI. Optional are front sensors and BMW's Park Assist system. Also optional is adaptive cruise control (in the Driving Assistant package) with collision and pedestrian warning and pre-braking. Road sign detection to read speed limits for display and automated high beams are also available in the package.

Other options include all-LED exterior lighting, sports steering wheels, and a digital "Always Open Timer" to track time spent with the roof down. MINI-logo puddle lights are also available. The new MINI Connected: Mini Streetwise system is an option, adding navigation, rain warning, a larger infotainment display (8.8 inches), and more smartphone integration with apps.

The new MINI Convertible enters showrooms in the UK in March 2016 with a starting price of £18,475 (about US$25,700).

Source: BMW

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