First seen at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, today the BMW Group officially rolled out its latest four-seat MINI Cooper Convertible featuring, as they say, "improvements in the areas of design, quality, handling, performance, efficiency, and functionality." Built on the latest-gen MINI platform, the new soft top comes in both standard and S models and receives all of the benefits of the hardtop, including new four-cylinder engines, electromechanical power steering, and a stiffer body structure.
The Mini Cooper Convertible's roof is electrohydraulically powered and may be raised or lowered at speeds up to 20 mph. Standard is a delightfully kitschy "Openometer," which records time traveled with the top open to the elements.
New for this second-gen convertible is an electromechanically operated rollbar located behind the rear seats. Vehicle sensors raise the rollbar rapidly if they sense an impending rollover, unlikely with the Cooper Convertible's low center of gravity and tenacious handling. MINI claims that this safety measure is sized and situated such that visibility to the rear is only slightly hampered.
BMW-developed four-cylinders reside underhood, both displacing 1.6 liters. The S-Model gets a direct-injected, twin-scroll turbocharged mill making 172 hp and a stout 192 pound-feet of torque when engine management sees fit to engage in overboost. The regular-grade 1.6 gets BMW's valvetronic system, eliminating the throttle valve and upping efficiency. That engine makes 118 hp and 114 pound-feet.
Despite the extra equipment and stouter structure, the new MINI Cooper Convertible tips the scales at 22 pounds less than its predecessor. With engines also more efficient than its predecessor, we're betting on impressive mpg figures once the EPA does its rounds of testing. Definitely the top-down sportster choice for a tough new economy.--Colin Mathews
2010 MINI Cooper ConvertibleEnlarge Photo