28 November 2008

Mini converter

Mini finally gets round to making a Mk2 drop-top. Can you spot the difference?

Mini convertible

There’s a new Mini convertible out. A new new Mini convertible, that is, not a new old Mini convertible.

Right. Hang on. See, although the second generation of the new Mini was launched back in 2007, the convertible remained as the Mk1 version.

Until now – Mini has chopped the top of the Mk2 and it looks… well, it looks pretty much exactly like the Mk1.

Beneath the similar exterior, there’s quite a bit of new stuff going on. As you’d expect, the Mk2 convertible gets the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine in two flavours: 125bhp Cooper and 175bhp Cooper S. The Cooper S will manage 62mph in 7.4 seconds and return 44mph, making it quicker and more frugal than the outgoing model.

The new convertible will also benefit from BMW’s Efficient Dynamics drive, getting stop-start technology and brake regeneration to help it drop two road-tax bands.

Thankfully, Mini has resisted the temptation to fit an a la mode hard-top on the Mk2, sticking instead with a folding soft-top affair which will retract and, er, tract in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 20mph. It can also be slid back 40cm to create a sunroof-type opening, while a new pop-up rollover hoop will stop you becoming rapidly shorter in the event of a big crash.

All good, but we’re less keen on the sound of the new ‘Openometer’ – a hilarious option that records the amount of time you spend driving with the roof down, “meaning passengers can measure their visual coolness inside, even if it’s cold outside.”

So it’ll still be the drop-top of choice for the chi-chi fashionistas then, darling?

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