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

  • BMW i3
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    BMW i3

    1
  • Audi A3 Sportback
    All Audi A3s feature multi-link rear suspension, denied to some other MQB-based VW Group cars

    Audi A3 Sportback

    2
  • Volvo V40
    The new Volvo V40 is the Swedish firm's sleek and sporty-looking answer to the VW Golf, A3 Sportback and BMW 1-series

    Volvo V40

    3
  • The second generation 'more grown-up' Mini Clubman

    Mini Clubman

    4
  • BMW 1 Series
    BMW 1 Series gets nip-and-tuck treatment for 2015

    BMW 1 Series

    5

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