Over almost exactly 20 years of production, we have seen approaching three full model generations of the modern-era, BMW Group Mini.
There will be one more full model generation of the Mini along in another couple of years, as part of which petrol options will be sold alongside the electric versions that already account for one in five cars built at the firm’s UK production base in Cowley. After that, Mini will be a fully electric car brand.
As for now, it has given what is effectively the Mk3 modern Mini a second major mid-life facelift.
Mini’s three- and five-door hatchbacks (the all-electric three- door model included) have received refreshed styling inside and out; new equipment, in-car technology and driver assistance systems; new colour treatments and wheel designs; and a handful of mechanical updates aimed at keeping the car compliant with European emissions laws, and at refining its dynamic character. The Mini Convertible gets the same updates.
The continued existence of this cloth-topped derivative (the one UK-market ‘little Mini’ not built over here, but rather under contract by the VDL Group in the Netherlands) is proof of how exhaustively the brand has explored any potentially productive market niche over the past two decades. The better part of a decade ago, this car would have had convertible rivals from Peugeot, Citroën, Renault, Vauxhall, Nissan, Daihatsu and Fiat, but very few now survive.
Why, then, has Mini’s take on downsized cloth-top motoring so successfully stood the test of time? Let’s try to find out.