When BMW launched the new MINI hatchback back in 2001 it was an instant hit. The retro looks, combined with similar characteristics to the original; such as go-kart-like handling and unmistakable style were the perfect recipe. In 2004, BMW decided to make the most of the car's success by introducing a MINI Convertible to the range. As expected, the MINI Convertible joined its hatchback sibling in being incredibly well-received. Since its 2004 birth, the MINI Convertible has been updated in 2009 and 2016 - offering various enhancements to keep the Convertible ahead of its competition. But what exactly makes the MINI Convertible so popular?
The 'new' MINI Convertible is easily identifiable as a MINI, taking various styling cues from the original Mini - an icon of the sixties. Sure the car has certainly become larger in the new millennium, but with all the new technology and safety standards to adhere to, it comes as no surprise. It's by no means a huge car when compared to modern day alternatives and does a great job of offering effortless style. The round headlights mimic the original, and the scope for customisation; stripes, colours, wheels, contrasting body panels, headlights, and John Cooper Works enhancements mean that it is rare to spot two identical MINI Convertibles - there is always something that will be a little different.
Just like the exterior, the interior mimics the original too. Older cars have the iconic central speedometer in the middle of the dashboard, whilst newer models still keep a central circular dial, but this tends to be utilised for the car's infotainment screen etc. Cabin quality is retro cool too, with toggle switches, quirky details and again a decent scope for customisation and personalisation. Leather, cloth and Alcantara material is used to give the MINI Convertible a real sense of quality too. Chrome and brushed aluminium are used for details, which perfectly combine the interior together, and ensure the interior is a nice space to spend time.
As with every convertible based on a coupe or hatchback, you do lose some rigidity and poise - as a more conventional roof has been replaced with a soft top or convertible mechanism. The MINI Convertible still manages to keep the iconic go-kart like handling and feel, which is really impressive, one of the main reasons this car has so many admirers. Later models receive greater refinement, and a quiet cabin with the hood up, which adds an air of quality to the driving experience. As a whole, no matter which generation of MINI Convertible you lust after, the driving experience is huge fun, certainly not a car you'll be bored in!
The MINI Convertible is by no means a family car. Sure, the space is okay and has become much better over the years. A small boot means you're only going to get way with small luggage. As for rear passenger space, adults are going to not be very comfortable on long journeys due to the compromised leg room. Kids will be fine but front space is fine, as expected. The MINI Convertible is a car built for style. If you want a practical MINI, the Clubman and Countryman are ones to go for.
Engines and transmissions
Engines are usually a 1.5, 1.6 or 2.0-litre unit. Petrol and diesel fuel are both available too, with economy varying by generation. As expected newer versions are far better on fuel. First generation models were only available with a petrol engine, so would deliver around 30 mpg. Later generations were much better on fuel, with some able to return 70 mpg. Automatic and manual transmissions are available throughout the generations too.
The original Mini is a style icon, and the new MINI is an extension of this. Of course, a convertible is always going to be for a certain type of driver and ideal for those who love the wind in their hair, and are somewhat a bit of a fashionista. If you're after a car that's fun to drive and looks ultra-stylish, the MINI Convertible is perfect. Perfect for those with no family ties, or as a companion to a family car to take out on occasion, the MINI Convertible is an extension of its driver's style.