As expected, most of the design elements from the latest hardtop Cooper have been implemented on the newest, 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible. If you look closely, however, the Cooper convertible's silhouette seems longer and sleeker, although no change to its length has been made. This effect is a result of a slightly lower roofline profile that incorporates a concealed redesigned roll bar and larger side windows. The single piece bar extends the car's width and provides near instant roll-over protection with a 150 millisecond deployment time.
Mini claims the convertible's rear visibility is enhanced as a result of the bigger windows and discreet roll bar, but we have yet to confirm this in a real world test. The electrohydraulic-powered cloth roof, which Mini claims is as wind and weather tight as they come, is capable of being opened and closed in 15 sec flat and can be operated at speeds up to 20 mph. Engineers say they have managed to strengthen the top along with the A-pillars by 10% over the outgoing Cooper convertible, while at the same time managing to shed 22 lbs. - a neat trick. For owners seeking a bit more exposure without the total cabrio experience, the previous model's sliding roof function is maintained. For fun, the brand has included a new "Openometer" that allows passengers to see how long the top has been dropped.
Another feature unique to the convertible is a chrome accent trim piece added to the Mini's high beltline. The Cooper Convertible can be sprayed in 12 colors, including for the first time New Horizon Blue and Midnight Black Metallic. Interchange Yellow is exclusive to the model, while standard roof liveries include black and Hot Chocolate -- otherwise known as brown.
As has become a hallmark of the Mini brand, a plethora of accessories and packages are available for convertible customers to choose from, all designed to let personalization run wild. The Cooper's trademark large instrument displays, aerospace-inspired switches and funky knobs, and otherwise questionable ergonomics all make it into the new convertible, as do exterior color matched trimmings. Standard black and grey leatherette comes in both trim levels, with the Cooper S having the added choice of Carbon Black Checkered cloth. Optional leather in Carbon Black, Tuscan Beige and Hot Chocolate can be spec'd out as well.
A more usable flexible storage system with an easy-load function increases the convertible's interior capacity to 23.10 cu. ft (up 1.93 cu. ft) when the rear seats are completely folded down. Max load capacity has correspondingly been upped 66 lbs to 948 lbs. On the entertainment front, a CD player stereo with six-speakers comes out of the box, with an iPod and iPhone connectible navigation setup being optional.
Like with its hardtop brethren, the convertibles feature 1.6L four-cylinder engines in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms. Under the hood of the base model is a 118-hp unit making 144 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm that features Valvetronic technology for increased fuel efficiency (fuel economy ratings for the convertible have yet to be determined). Those opting for the Cooper S trim get a 172-hp Twin-Scroll turbocharged motor with direct-injection. With 177 lb-ft on tap between 1600 and 5000 rpm (192 lb-ft with overboost), the Cooper S convertible reportedly sprints to 60 mph in a claimed 7.0 sec (7.2 sec with automatic), while the naturally-aspirated counterpart takes 8.9 sec (10.2 sec). All six gears can be rowed via a paddle operated six-speed auto or short-throw manual gearboxes.
Specific to the new convertible is a tuned suspension said to be comfortable for any type of passenger while at the same time capable enough to aggressively carve canyons. Helping the redesigned 16-in. wheels (17-in. optional) keep grip is an Alphabet Soup full of standard advanced electronic aids including ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Hill Start-Off Assistance. The only feature that's optional is Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) featuring a front wheel limited slip differential called an Electronically Differential Lock Control (EDLC).
Mini will officially debut its redesigned 2009 Mini Cooper and Cooper S Convertibles at next January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Deliveries are scheduled to take place at the end of March, but stay tuned for full coverage beforehand as they hit the Motor City stage.
|2009 MINI COOPER CONVERTIBLE|
|Base price||$24,550; Cooper S, $27,450|
|Vehicle layout||Front engine, FWD, 4-pass, 2-door convertible|
|Engine||1.6L/118-hp/114-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; 1.6L/172-hp/177-192-lb-ft DOHC turbocharged 16-valve I-4 Transmission 6-speed automatic, 6-speed manual|
|Length x width x height||145.6 x 66.3 x 55.4 in|
|0-62 mph||7.0-10.2 sec (mfr)|
|EPA city/hwy fuel econ||N/A|
|On sale in U.S.||Spring 2009|