DAILY EDITION: Feb. 10, 2003

February 9, 2004

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Feb. 10, 2004

MINI Cooper Convertible Bows at Geneva

2005 MINI Cooper Convertible

2005 MINI Cooper Convertible

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It took some time, but next month, the MINI Convertible will debut at the Geneva Auto Show and will hit the road this summer. The Convertible will be one of the eye catchers at the Geneva show that opens for the public on March 4.

With the soft top closed and its exposed hinges of the rear lid, the MINI Convertible looks even more retro than the version with the steel roof.

The Convertible has a fully automatic Z-mechanism soft roof, that has a so-called sliding roof mode, where the soft top can be opened up to 15 ¾ inch while driving up to a speed of 75 mph. The soft roof folds behind the rear seats with the push on the button in 15 seconds and has no need for a tonneau cover.

Unlike the other versions of the MINI, the Convertible comes with power side windows at the rear. To protect the occupants in case of a rollover, there are two small aluminum roll bars directly behind the head rests of the rear passengers. Also, the A-pillars are made of ultra-strong steel. They form part of the improvements to ensure a high standard of torsional stiffness.

The Convertible can carry a maximum of 882 lb, while the content of the luggage compartment is 5.8 cubic feet and with the soft top folded down, 4.2 cubic feet. The topless MINI has new bumpers with integrated fog lights, new headlights and a new grille. Also the rear bumper is restyled and the indicators are moved up in the lamp housing. The new MINI Convertible will be entering the market as the MINI One with 90 hp and as the MINI Cooper with 115 hp. The 163-hp Cooper S Convertible will follow later.

The MINI One Convertible comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, the Cooper with light alloy ones with 175/65 R15 run flat tires; 16- and 17-inch aluminum wheels will be an option. Except for the existing colors, there are two colors exclusively for the Convertible: Hot Orange and Cool Blue. The One will be delivered with a black soft top and customers have a choice of three colors for the soft top of the Cooper: black, blue or green.

The MINI Convertible will have standard four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, EBD electronic brake force distribution and CBC cornering brake control. ASC+T automatic stability and traction control as well as DSC dynamic stability control will be available as an option. —Henny Hemmes

Small Cars Making a Comeback? by TCC Team (2/2/2004)
Against all odds, small cars seem to be in the midst of a revival.

Schrempp Back On The Stand

DaimlerChrysler chairman Juergen Schrempp testified Monday in a resumption of the trial that will decide whether the chairman misled investors in the 1998 "merger of equals" between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler. Schrempp was questioned extensively about the fact that DaimlerChrysler was incorporated in Germany rather than the U.S. The decision was based on tax benefits from registering in Germany, but also for "political reasons," said Schrempp. Billionaire financier Kirk Kerkorian is suing DCX for more than $1 billion, plus $2 billion in punitive damages, for selling the merger as a merger when in fact, charges Kerkorian, it was a takeover. Painting the deal as a merger deprived Kerkorian, he says, of an extra premium for his shares. The trial was halted by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Farnan in mid-December after DaimlerChrysler's attorneys said they had discovered a set of notes about the merger taken by Gary Valade, Chrysler's former chief financial officer, that were never shared with Kerkorian's lawyers. Schrempp said he was "a bit puzzled" when asked about a line in one of Valade's notes referring to the proposed merger as "structurally 'almost' a takeover." Valade's notes indicate the U.S. side was concerned about its ability to present the transaction to shareholders as "a merger of equals." "We have come to realize that internally it would be very difficult to become a German company and sell this as a merger of equals," Valade's notes said. —Jim Burt

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