What is it?
The two-door Mini Convertible is the latest model to join the British carmaker’s modern day line-up, following the third-generation three-door hatchback, more practical five-door hatchback and the recently introduced six-door Clubman – all three of which helped contribute to a record 338,466 Mini sales worldwide in 2015.
Due to reach UK showrooms in April, the new open-top model is larger and offers significantly more interior space than its popular predecessor, which had been on sale since 2009. It also comes with a new range of three- and four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines that offer added performance and greater economy and, like the latest incarnations of its various siblings, is more comprehensively equipped than before, too.
Mirroring the dimensions of the existing three-door hatchback, with which it shares its basic architecture, the new Mini Convertible has grown a considerable 98mm in length, 44mm in width and 7mm in height to a respective 3821mm, 1727mm and 1415mm.
Based around parent company BMW’s versatile UKL platform, as used beneath all of Mini’s more recent models, the new Convertible also has a 28mm longer wheelbase, at 2429mm, along with tracks that are up by 42mm in length at the front and 34mm at the rear – all of which gives the car a much larger footprint than ever before.
Project leader, Axel Braune, says the new platform provides a considerable improvement in rigidity and stiffness compared with that of the previous model. However, the addition of more substantial structural elements and other stiffening measures within the floorpan and bulkheads has led to a 115kg increase in weight over the three-door hatch; the Convertible Cooper S driven here weighs in at 1275kg. Despite its larger dimensions, though, it is only 25kg heavier than its direct predecessor, which tipped the scales at 1255kg in Cooper S guise.
British buyers get a choice of three engines from the outset: a 134bhp 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol unit in the Convertible Cooper, an 189bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine in the Convertible Cooper S and an 114bhp 1.5-litre, three-cylinder diesel in the Convertible Cooper D. Other powerplants, including a 101bhp 1.2-litre petrol three-cylinder in an upcoming Convertible One and a 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel in a Convertible Cooper SD, are set to be added to the line-up later.
Despite a clear trend towards dual clutch gearboxes in its class, the gearbox choices continue as before, with a standard six-speed manual and an optional six-speed automatic, the latter featuring steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. An electronic differential lock along with Dynamic Stability Control and traction control are included on all launch models as standard.