While it has since expanded the Mini family to include estates, coupés, SUVs and five-door hatchbacks, in 2005 BMW chose a soft-top with which to first broaden the catalogue of its then still relatively newly acquired automotive fashion brand.

The Mini Convertible represented safe ground back then, not least because Rover had only happened on the idea itself the decade before, and only then because it was impressed with the reception that a limited-edition, dealer-converted Mini received.

The 2005 Mini Convertible came with a proper folding cloth roof, rather than the half-baked full-length canvas sunroof employed by old Mini soft-tops and the current Fiat 500C and others.

The design eliminated both the B-pillars and full-sized tailgate, replacing the latter with a bottom-hinged bootlid very much like the one with which Issigonis’s original Mini had come.

The Mini Convertible proved to be popular, almost 30,000 cars being sold in Britain before the previous generation came to an end.

Now it returns atop the new Mini UKL1 platform, promising enhanced levels of comfort and refinement based partly on the new architecture’s increased size and rigidity.

The appearance stays much the same, and it’s because of the fully electric fabric hood that BMW can claim that the model sits alone in the supermini segment as a true premium-brand four-seat convertible.

That status is important because no market prizes a drop-top like the UK, and the manufacturer has sold more here than it has managed anywhere else.

It would like that trend to continue and has covered almost all of the trim level bases to ensure that it does, making the new Convertible available in Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and even JCW specifications. We’re putting the entry-level Cooper version to the test.

Top 5 Premium hatches

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Mini range

  • Mini Convertible

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    21 January 2017
    Is an upgrade to 730bhp and the addition of four-wheel steering enough to realise the Aventador's potential?
  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics