IT hasn’t exactly been the best conditions for top-down driving, but that’s only a small portion of the appeal of the MINI Cooper Convertible.
I’ve long had a big thing for the MINI brand. I’ve always felt them to be great little nuggets of cars. Tough and nimble, fun to drive and with time-warp street appeal.
And the MINI Cooper Convertible has continued that trend.
The new model is better equipped, more powerful and efficient and comes in at a starting price almost $5000 cheaper than the previous model.
So, what’s this all-new MINI equipped with? Most noticeably, of course, is a cloth-folding roof capable of opening in 18 seconds, and closing in the same amount of time – so I found out on the one time I tried for top-down driving between the seemingly never-ending rain showers Adelaide’s been experiencing of late.
It has new engines, new suspension, new electrics, a new body the new cloth roof and even a new name… “Convertible” as opposed to “Cabrio”.
There’s also an option for a remote roof opener, using the key fob, you can open it half-way and it can be opened and closed at a speed up to 30km/h, which is very handy when trying to make the most of rainless moments.
Even with hair flying in your face and a bit of sun to test the resilience of a thinning top, I still think driving topless is more fun. The wind swirl is noticeably reduced with the windows up (there’s also a wind deflector added option available) but the sun stays the same!
The standard six-speed auto transmission, coupled with the 1.5-litre turbo petrol three-cylinder engine out of the BMW stable makes for a fun drive in this nimble package. It delivers a throaty tune wonderfully married to the nuggety looks of the MINI.
Putting out 100kW and 220Nm of torque, it offers plenty and delivers a healthy claimed fuel consumption of 5.3L/100km. And it’s significantly sporty overall with its handling and ride.
There’s more interior technology, an improved cabin and still all the cool look MINI switches, gadgets, gauges and styling to go with it. The MINI logo lighting up on the ground aside the driver’s door and the calming neo-lighting strips in the door trim, which cycle through a range of colours before settling on a soft blue (for our test model at least) are nice touches.
The Cooper Convertible features dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera – handy with the roof down and blocking rear-view mirror vision somewhat) – and reversing sensors which also are of help in that situation.
While it is likely true that you can have more fun with your top off, the new MINI Convertible proved to be plenty of fun fully dressed on our test.