Automotive

Mini Convertible has a growth spurt

Mini Convertible has a growth ...
The Convertible Cooper S can be fitted with a John Cooper Works bodykit
The Convertible Cooper S can be fitted with a John Cooper Works bodykit
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The Convertible Cooper S can be fitted with a John Cooper Works bodykit
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The Convertible Cooper S can be fitted with a John Cooper Works bodykit
The Convertible's silhouette is instantly recognisable with the roof up
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The Convertible's silhouette is instantly recognisable with the roof up
Lopping the roof off hasn't improved the car's bloated front end
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Lopping the roof off hasn't improved the car's bloated front end
The Convertible's roof is fully electric, and can be raised at speeds up to 30 km/h
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The Convertible's roof is fully electric, and can be raised at speeds up to 30 km/h
Three engines will be available from launch
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Three engines will be available from launch
Just because it's a soft top doesn't mean the Convertible can't be customized like a hatchback
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Just because it's a soft top doesn't mean the Convertible can't be customized like a hatchback
There's 25 percent more space back here than in the last Convertible
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There's 25 percent more space back here than in the last Convertible
As a Mini, customisation is key
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As a Mini, customisation is key
The roof can also open slightly, like a sunroof.
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The roof can also open slightly, like a sunroof.
The Cooper's roof takes 18 seconds to operate
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The Cooper's roof takes 18 seconds to operate
There are wheel options ranging from 15 to 18 inches
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There are wheel options ranging from 15 to 18 inches
With the roof up, bootspace grows to 215 litres
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With the roof up, bootspace grows to 215 litres
The roof operates quickly and quietly, which is a big change from the part-manual units on the old Convertible
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The roof operates quickly and quietly, which is a big change from the part-manual units on the old Convertible
The Mini Convertible's roof in action
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The Mini Convertible's roof in action
The Mini Convertible's roof in action
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The Mini Convertible's roof in action
The Mini Convertible's roof in action
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The Mini Convertible's roof in action
The Mini Convertible's roof in action
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The Mini Convertible's roof in action
The Mini Convertible's roof in action
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The Mini Convertible's roof in action
The Mini Convertible can be had with a small diesel engine, but smart buyers will opt for the three cylinder petrol motor
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The Mini Convertible can be had with a small diesel engine, but smart buyers will opt for the three cylinder petrol motor
Even though it has grown, we still wouldn't fancy a ride in those back seats
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Even though it has grown, we still wouldn't fancy a ride in those back seats
Mini is adamant the Convertible hasn't lost any of the Hatch's handling prowess
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Mini is adamant the Convertible hasn't lost any of the Hatch's handling prowess
Here's hoping the driver put plenty of sunscreen on
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Here's hoping the driver put plenty of sunscreen on
Just because it's a soft top doesn't mean the Convertible can't be customized like a hatchback
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Just because it's a soft top doesn't mean the Convertible can't be customized like a hatchback
The Mini Convertible's roof in action
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The Mini Convertible's roof in action

Since the launch of the new Mini, we've seen a greater focus on usability and space. Unfortunately, none of this newfound practicality has addressed the biggest problem with Mini, a problem that has existed since the death of the R56 Cooper in 2013: the need to improve your tan. Thankfully, stylish socialites can rest easy, because Mini has answered your prayers with its new Convertible.

Just like the rest of the range, the new Mini Convertible isn't that small anymore. It's grown 98 mm (3.9 in) longer, 44 mm (1.7 in) wider and 1 mm taller than its predecessors, which means passengers should have far more space inside. Bigger or not, we wouldn't want to be stuck in those back seats on a transcontinental trip.

As well as growing, the new Convertible is smarter than the car it replaces. The textile soft top is now fully electric and can be opened at speeds up to 30 km/h (18 mph) and includes a front "sliding roof" function that acts like a sunroof. If you're desperate to customize your Convertible's roof design, you can even spec it with a graphic woven into the top – perfect for impressing low-flying helicopter pilots or smart birds.

Just because it's a soft top doesn't mean the Convertible can't be customized like a hatchback
Just because it's a soft top doesn't mean the Convertible can't be customized like a hatchback

Downsizing is the order of the day under the Convertible's bonnet. The same 3-cylinder engine that serves in the BMW 3 Series makes an appearance here, producing the same 100 kW (136 hp) and 220 Nm of torque as it does in the Hatch, while the other petrol option at launch is the 2.0-liter motor from the Cooper S, which produces 141 kW (192 hp) and 280 Nm of torque. If you're doing lots of highway miles, Mini also offers up an 85 kW (116 hp) diesel option.

Mini has always made a point of making its cars feel small and darty on the road. With a wider track and longer wheelbase than the old Convertible the new car shouldn't struggle for grip, and Mini claims its single-joint strut front axle and multi-link rear end endow the car with a go-kart like feeling.

Stepping inside the Convertible is just like stepping into a regular Mini hatchback. Both cars share the same circle-inspired design, although the convertible is packing one feature to make hatchback drivers jealous – an "Always Open Timer."

The Always Open Timer keeps a log of how long the roof has been down since the car's registration, to allow drivers to properly measure how deep their sunburn has become. Not really ... Mini claims the system is designed to keep track of how much "open air enjoyment" the "fresh air enthusiasts" who buy the car have experienced.

The Mini Convertible's roof in action
The Mini Convertible's roof in action

That's right, "fresh air enthusiasts." Judging by the lack of convertibles on our roads, they're few and far between, but it's good to see Mini catering for the minorities.Me? I'm more of a not-getting sunburnt enthusiast, but I also feel strongly about staying dry in storms and not ruining my hair on windy days. Maybe the hardtop would be a better fit?

This slightly baffling feature aside, Mini has fitted the Convertible with some genuinely useful kit inside. Just like it does in an S-Class Mercedes, the air-conditioning regulates its flow depending on the position of the roof to make sure it's always at its most efficient, and if you're using the Mini Connected App, the car will remind you to close the roof it there's rain on the way.

The new Convertible's bulbous rear also has more luggage space than its predecessor. it's now able to hold 215 litres (7.6 cu.ft) with the roof up and 160 litres (5.7 cu.ft) when it's down – up by 25 percent.

Mini hasn't yet revealed details about pricing, but expect to pay a small premium over the hatchback for top-down motoring. All engines will be available with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

Source: BMW

2 comments
dmeisner@gmail.com
a few items in this article are misleading - some features are described as new but are in previous models. I own a 2011 Mini convertible, and it has the electric top, sunroof mode (when half-open) and top-down-time meter (called the "fun-o-meter" which I think is incredibly dopey, especially since there's no oil pressure or temp gauge in the car). But I still love the car.
JSSFB
I still miss the old mini, the real one, there is still nothing to match it, this is just another overpriced toy