The second incarnation of the MINI Convertible

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December 1, 2008 The second iteration of the MINI Convertible broke cover last week and did so with a spectacular set of numbers behind it. Three convertible versions of the iconic vehicle will be available: a 90 bhp 109 mph MINI One, a 115 bhp 120 mph MINI Cooper and a 170 bhp 134 mph Cooper S derivative, each featuring innovative engine technologies designed to deliver performance and frugality at the bowser. With emissions and running costs now a key buying criteria, the premium small car will no doubt be on many shopping lists in 2009, and the three versions all deliver remarkable fuel consumption given their perfromance – 40.4, 38.7 and 34.0 mpg respectively.

All MINI Convertibles have fully automatic fabric roofs as standard. However, this is no ordinary soft top. The roof operates in two stages. Press the button once and the roof slides horizontally back 40 cm to create a unique ‘open sunroof’ effect. This function can be operated while driving up to speeds of 75 mph. Press the button again and the roof retracts fully, neatly folding down into a compact arrangement behind the rear seats. No messy catches, tricky levers or fiddly tonneau covers are involved – only 15 seconds and the touch of a button stand between the driver and the pleasure of open-air motoring. In order for the roof to open to its fully convertible position the car must be stationary.

The roof is made from high quality fabric and operates in a ‘Z’ formation. As the roof retracts to the fully open position, the roof supports automatically lower into the car and the two side windows move down completely. The roof is finally folded into three layers on top of one another. With the ‘Z’ mechanism keeping the dimensions of the folded roof to a bare minimum, the capacity of the luggage compartment is a respectable 120 litres. With the roof up, the boot capacity increases to 165 litres.

The roof incorporates a heated glass rear window ensuring unrestricted visibility to the rear - even in bad weather. All MINI Convertible models are fitted with Park Distance Control (PDC) at the rear as standard.

The first-generation MINI Convertible experienced remarkable sales success around the world during its 2004-2008 lifecycle, with 164,000 MINI Convertibles delivered to owners. Demand for its successor, complete with an array of technological and design advances, is sure to be strong in a climate where frugality of ownership costs is fast becoming fashionable.

The aesthetics of MINI are clearly present in the new Convertible. With a raised shoulder line, highlighted by a chrome strip which extends around the body of the car, the new MINI Convertible has a more purposeful and dynamic stance than its predecessor. The low roofline, wheels in each corner and short overhangs at both the front and rear of the car denote the MINI Convertible’s sporting intent.

Specific design cues differentiate the Cooper and Cooper S models. Both derivatives feature MINI’s trademark hexagon radiator grille and large round headlamps with integrated indicators. The high-performance MINI Cooper S Convertible sets itself apart visually through the presence of an enhanced ‘powerdome’, which sits 20 millimetres higher than the MINI Cooper’s bonnet and houses a large air scoop. At the rear end, large twin tailpipes, a large diffuser in the rear bumper and a two-piece rear fog lamp mark it out.

An hexagonal grid pattern on the radiator grille of the Cooper S is its finishing touch. In contrast, the new MINI Cooper Convertible’s grille boasts a chrome frame and three horizontal, chrome-plated bars.

Exclusive to the new drop-top will be two all-new colours to feature on a MINI. Interchange Yellow and Horizon Blue will make their debuts on the second-generation new MINI Convertible. Contrasting roof options add visual appeal to the newcomer, and British customers will be able to pick from Black, Denim Blue and Hot Chocolate when specifying their perfect MINI.

For the first-time in a MINI Convertible, Air Conditioning will be fitted as standard. An added benefit to owners will be that the lockable glovebox will receive cooled air and ensure its contents remain icey, while passengers enjoy the sun.

The automatic canvas roof of the second-generation new MINI Convertible can be fully retracted or closed using a roof-frame mounted toggle switch in just 15 seconds. In the event of a driver being caught unexpectedly by a sudden downpour, this function will fully operate with the car at speeds of up to 20 mph.

As an alternative to the complete top-down driving experience, the full-width of the electric roof can be retracted by approximately 40 centimetres to create the effect of a sunroof. This function can be operated at speeds of up to 75 mph.

A unique feature typical of MINI will be the Openometer. Offered as an option, the Openometer records the time spent by the owner driving with the top down, meaning passengers can measure their visual coolness inside, even if it’s cold outside.

Unlike its predecessor’s fixed anti-roll bars the new model features a single-piece roll bar situated behind the rear seats, ensuring passenger safety in the event of a crash. The roll bar will extend in milliseconds at the point of impact to protect the car’s occupants should the car overturn. Remarkably, this new arrangement in no way obstructs the driver’s line of visibility when looking out of the rear window.

In contrast to the first iteration of the new MINI Convertible, rear passengers will be able to adjust the height of their head rests at will, unlike the preceding car’s fixed-position arrangement.

The body structure, floorplan, A-pillars and side sills have all been strengthened to offer greater crash protection. This also significantly reduces ‘scuttle shake’, whilst body stiffness is further improved over the first generation MINI Convertible. The car’s weight is also reduced by 10 kilogrammes.

Clever use of space means the luggage capacity of the new car is greater than that of the first generation model. The easy-load boot compartment now has a capacity of 125 litres (up from 120) with the roof open and 170 litres with the roof closed (previously 165). With the rear seat folded down and roof closed, luggage space totals 660 litres, 55 litres more than the previous MINI Convertible.

Bike rack preparation will be supplied with the car as standard. The mounting points are obscured from view and positioned behind the rear bumper, meaning owners are able to easily affix multi-function carriers as and when required.

The case for the new MINI Convertible is strengthened further by the presence of award-winning engines, allied to short-shifting and precise six-speed manual gearboxes. Both models are available as an option with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The MINI Cooper Convertible is fitted with a four-cylinder petrol engine with fully variable valve management, using technology based on BMW Group’s VALVETRONIC technology.

The MINI Cooper S Convertible is powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine with Twin-Scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection. This engine currently holds the title of International Engine of the Year, in the 1.4-1.8-litre category.

Both engines feature elsewhere in the current MINI range. In Hatch and Clubman guise, outstanding fuel economy, low CO2 emissions and high performance equate to low running costs, minimised environmental impact and a grin-inducing driving experience. Combined with the thrill of top-down motoring, the new MINI Convertible will be a tempting ownership prospect to British car buyers.

Technologies based on BMW’s EfficientDynamics systems are central to dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. Auto Start Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration and Shift Point Display complete the line-up of MINIMALISM technologies supplied with the new MINI Convertible Cooper and Cooper S models.

The MINI Cooper Convertible will be priced at £15,995 OTR and the MINI Cooper S Convertible will be offered from £18,995 OTR.

The engines in both new models supply power which is transmitted to the front wheels. The chassis technology employed to manage the safe delivery of power is tailored specifically to the new MINI Convertible. The following technologies are standard features of this model:

* Electromechanical Power Steering (EPS) * Brake system with anti-lock brakes (ABS) * Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) * Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Brake Assist * Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Start-Off Assistant

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