2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
The mini family is quickly formed on the new production platform. The convertible rolls up. Instead of revolutionary innovations, the convertible has a “further development of the qualities”, in other words: a new range of engines, more functionality in detail and even more cult around a car icon.
By Axel F. Busse
If Sir Alec had still experienced that: Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, the inventor of the mini, did not notice any more of the global hype surrounding his small car. He died in 1988, even before the first convertible version of his creation saw the light of day. That wasn't the case until 1992. Since then, the car has not only become around a meter longer, but according to the manufacturer is also the world's only compact convertible in the premium segment.
After all: from a tiny and uncomfortable, with poor engine power and brakes provided compromise mobile is under BMW-Ägide a large family of models has emerged, which promises lasting driving pleasure and on top of that is one of the most stable car products ever. The manufacturer pays for that well: Nothing can be done for less than 23,950 euros. For this you get the Cooper convertible with a three-cylinder petrol engine and 136 hp. Only a later Mini One convertible could undercut this price. For at least 27,950 euros there are 56 hp more in the Mini Cooper S convertible.
USA as the main sales market for mini convertibles
While the very first mini convertible was still a real exotic with around 1,000 units sold, BMW has already brought more than 320,000 units of the previous two generations of its variant to women and sometimes to men within eleven years. Obviously, the fact that the second row of seats is more aesthetically pleasing than the transport of adults does not reduce demand. The USA is a focus of sales, but the open versions are also well received in Europe. A John Cooper Works version with a sporty outfit and 231 hp is in preparation.
An important feature of a convertible is the movable convertible top, which now does without a hydraulic opening mechanism and works completely electrically. The combined sunroof function has been retained. While with other convertibles 50 km / h is the nominal size for mobility while driving, with the Mini you can drive a maximum of 30 km / h in order to be able to open or close the convertible top. Project manager Axel Braune cites the search for a “constructive optimum” as the reason for this. Higher pace would have required a stiffer construction that would have meant more weight. The difference in mass between sedans and convertibles is already around 115 kilograms.
Mini convertible without roll bar
The chrome-plated roll bars, which in the first two generations were still highlighted as a striking design element, have disappeared. The rollover protection for the occupants has completely disappeared behind the headrests and is thrown out within 0.1 seconds using pyrotechnics if the on-board sensors signal an imminent 180-degree turn around the longitudinal axis of the vehicle. Opening and closing of the convertible top are triggered by a toggle switch on the windscreen frame and takes 18 seconds in both directions. In the canvas hood, the designers found another chance to maintain the car's very British image: a woven-in Union Jack pattern in titanium gray costs 600 euros extra.
While the trunk of the first Mini was fooled around as an "external glove compartment", the manufacturer can now report an increase in luggage volume. The 215 liters (160 liters with the top down) mean an increase of 25 percent compared to the predecessor. However, users also have to accept an increase in the loading sill of eight centimeters. The Easy Load function has proven to be useful: It enlarges the trunk opening by a good 15 centimeters, but only works when the top is closed.
Many assistance systems available for mini convertibles
Since the drive train, chassis and steering correspond to the components of the sedan, the grippy and direct driving experience that the manufacturer confidently marketed as the “go-kart feeling” is retained. The tested Cooper-S version also responds immediately with a 6-speed automatic, develops a hearty pull from 280 Newton meters of torque and sprints from zero to one hundred in 7.1 seconds. On the roller dynamometer, the fuel consumption of 5.8 liters per 100 kilometers is only of minor importance in practice, but with seven to eight liters you should be able to provide sufficient driving pleasure.
So that the sale of the new mini convertible does not have to live from the image alone, a number of assistance systems have been upgraded. These include traffic sign and pedestrian recognition, lane keeping and parking assistants, head-up displays and adaptive cruise control. A reversing camera is also available, which is particularly useful when the top is closed. It is charged with a surcharge of 360 euros, but is only available in conjunction with a navigation system and parking sensors, which requires around 2500 euros additional expenditure. The mini fans will hardly be frightened. On average, they rarely spend less than 15 percent of the vehicle base price on additional equipment features.
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