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STYLING | 10 out of 10
Front and rear bumper fascias, a new grille texture, minor lamp alterations, and a whole new line of wheels will keep Mini watchers' heads spinning.
The design of the second-generation convertible looks enough like the first that there is little difference to casual observers. The most noticeable difference is the roll bar, which used to stick up behind the backseat head restraints.
One of our main gripes of previous Minis was the oddly placed stereo control knobs. Fortunately, that has been rectified for 2011 with a slightly more conventional layout.
As always, Mini encourages customization of each car, and is now offering three “design worlds” to serve as inspiration. Dubbed Rally, Classic, and Scene, each is a family of suggestions for body and roof colors, wheel designs, and interior elements hand-selected by designers as a stylish jumping-off point for tweaking your Mini.
Car and Driver
Despite the changes, the latest Cooper retains all of the key MINI design cues, including a contrasting roof and side mirrors, large round headlamps and bulging black fender trim.
Kelley Blue Book
For 2011, the MINI Cooper's styling gets minor changes, but doesn't stray far from the previous model's gold standard. Small exterior tweaks, new colors, trims and wheels, and a revised interior round out the visual changes.
On the outside, updates for the standard Cooper include a larger lower grille, a revised front bumper, a taller hood, a new side marker look and larger fog lights, plus redesigned tail lights and an optional rear fog light. Cooper S models add functional brake ducts and a unique front bumper cover to the mix.
The rest of the car--from the cute, retro look to the compact-yet-larger-than-the-original size--remains the same as last year's models. Both convertible and hatchback versions are available, and though it loses the roofline, it retains the friendly face, wedge-like shape, and familiar looks of the hardtop.
Interior updates throughout the Cooper lineup include redesigned two-dial audio controls, less chrome in favor of more black, and a range of new material and color options. The familiar MINI style remains, though for those that find it hard to use, that's as much a curse as a blessing.
The 2011 MINI Cooper/Convertible is a near-perfect re-imagination of the brand's progenitor, but could use further work on interior quality and layout.