MINI’S FIRST CONVERTIBLE

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Mini has added to its lineup with the introduction of a third generation open-top car. This time around it is a pure convertible, not a cabriolet. That’s because the fixed rollover hoops have been replaced by a rollover protection system that automatically raises the bars when the car’s sensors detect rolling over is a possiblity.

The gen-three open-top Mini is coming to Australia in Cooper and Cooper S variants, there is no lower cost Mini One. May we speculate a hot JCW version is in the design stages?

To our eyes the new Mini’s styling works exceptionally well. The front follows the current design theme used by a lot of marques, however, there are clear throwbacks to the original 1959 classic. (Or is it just that the rest of the world’s car designers have caught up with the grille shape penned by Alex Issigonis almost 60 years ago?!)

At the rear the new convertible works brilliantly visually with the top down, and doesn’t look too bad with it up. As a hint to the driver on this subject the Mini’s ‘Always Open Timer’ monitors and records the time you have spent enjoying open top driving.

The roof can be fully lowered or raised in about 18 seconds at speeds up to 30 km/h using a switch inside the car. Or by a button on the remote control key fob, but only when the Mini’s stationary.

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As has become a tradition, the Mini Cooper S has a large air intake, a bonnet scoop and brake air ducts. Its central twin tailpipes are finished in chrome and are integrated into the diffuser. The S has LED headlights, daytime running lights and front foglights.

Like the new generation Mini hatchbacks introduced in 2015, the convertible is significantly larger; being longer by 98 mm, wider (+44 mm), wheelbase (+28 mm), and track (+42 mm front, +34 mm rear). The result is increased passenger space. The two rear passengers have 36 mm more kneeroom and there’s a big 112 mm increase in elbow room.

Luggage capacity has been increased by 25 per cent, from 45 litres to 215 litres with the roof closed, 50/50 split fold rear seat backs increase versatility.

Mini Cooper S convertible has bolstered sports front seats with cloth/leather upholstery, a three-spoke John Cooper Works multifunction steering wheel with gearshift paddles and contrast red stitching for the leather wrap, and Black Chequered trim highlights.

To compensate for the lack of a solid roof, the convertible has additional torsion struts under the front and rear, a stiffening plate beneath the engine and stiffening for the side sills.

The latest generation three and four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engines provide more power and torque than the units they supersede, and have reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

Mini_Convertible_interior

Mini Cooper is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder TwinPower turbo-petrol engine, with up to 100 kW of power at 4400 rpm and a peak torque of 220 Nm (230 Nm on overboost) from just 1250 rpm. It has a 0-100 km/h time of 8.7 seconds – an impressive 2.4 seconds quicker than its predecessor.

Mini Cooper S has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with maximum power of 141 kW from 5000 rpm to 6500 rpm and peak torque of 280 Nm between 1250 rpm and 4000 rpm. A juicy 300 Nm is available on overboost. The engine is mated to an updated six-speed sports automatic with a Launch Control function let you cover do the zero to 100 km/h dash in 7.1 seconds.

The Mini Cooper S Convertible uses driver selectable modes to enhance the fun. Settings are Sport, Mid and Green and adjust throttle control, steering and transmission responses.

Mini Dynamic Damper Control using automatically adjustable dampers is an option on both models.

Mini Cooper Convertible is fitted with 16-inch Loop Spoke alloy wheels and 195/55 tyres. The Cooper S gets17-inch Tentacle Spoke alloys with 205/45 tyres.
Both convertible models have dual zone climate control, dynamic cruise control that includes braking function, remote central locking, keyless start/stop, automatic wipers and lights.

Providing full communication and entertainment options is the Mini Visual Boost multimedia system with a 6.5-inch display screen incorporating Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary connectivity. The Cooper S Convertible has the Mini Navigation System, which can be upgraded to Professional with a larger 8.8-inch monitor, 20GB hard drive and voice control and a premium Harman/Kardon 12-speaker audio system.

Safety systems including Dynamic Stability Control with Anti-Lock Braking System, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Electronic Differential Lock Control, Dry Braking function and Fading Compensation assist.

Like all Minis, the pretty new convertible are available with a range of personalisation options. Call into your local dealer, or click onto the Mini website to view the staggering range of choices.

As with the others in the range, the Mini convertible has had its prices reduced. In this instance it’s down by 11 per cent compared with the superseded Mini Cabrio models.

Pressure of business meant we weren’t able to attend to the media launch of the new Mini convertibles, so can’t provide driving impressions. We will borrow one (or even two!) and report on them asap.

Mini convertible is priced at $37,900 for the Cooper and $45,400 for the Cooper S. As we’ve come to expect from vehicles in the BMW / Mini group there is a range of optional equipment packages and other stand-alone options. These include the Chili package for the Cooper ($4550); Multimedia Pro package ($4745 on Cooper, $3510 on Cooper S); Convenience package ($2340) and Control package ($3380 on Cooper, $1950 on S).

Space precludes a full list of other options so contact you local BMW dealer for these, as well as driveaway prices.

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