The multi-link suspension is unique within this vehicle segment and is designed so that the wheels always adjust to the best possible angle, ensuring that the tyres are always in full contact with the road.
The multi-link suspension is unique within this vehicle segment and is designed so that the wheels always adjust to the best possible angle, ensuring that the tyres are always in full contact with the road. Therefore, changes in road camber have minimal effect on the MINI's steering or traction.
As an option our safety conscious MINI Cooper test car featured ASC+T (automatic stability control with traction control). This system effectively prevents front wheel spin and guarantees stability (within safe driving parameters). However, it will break grip if pushed to the limit of its stability although, under normal driving conditions this would not present a problem. This electronic system uses ABS sensors to detect any wheel slippage and when it does it automatically cuts the power to the spinning wheel until it grips again - It also works when decelerating. A warning light flashes when the system is activated and remains permanently lit when the system is switched off.
The steering is superbly weighted and direct with a kart-like driving feel - consistently giving the correct amount of feedback to the driver keeping you composed and in tune with the road. All models are fitted with electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering (EHPAS) which only needs to be turned 2.5 times lock to lock - making light work of parking.
A plus point for the Convertible over the Fixed head MINI is that with the roof down you get to hear the engine and exhaust note in its full glory.
Ease of Use
All MINI Convertibles feature an electrically operated fabric roof as standard, which operates in two stages. Press the button once and the roof slides horizontally back 40 cm to create a unique ‘open sunroof’ effect, which can be operated at speeds of up to 75 mph. Press the button again and the roof retracts fully, neatly folding down into a compact arrangement behind the rear seats, sadly you need to be stationery to fully lower the roof. The roof switch is positioned in the top of the windscreen frame and if you are on the short side this is a pain. We would have preferred to have seen the roof switch along side the window switches for ease of use. Apart from that, the operation of the roof is effortless without having to undo any catches and it lowers in around 15 seconds.
It was ten o’clock at night and -3 degrees outside when we
decided to set off from Bristol back to our Devon base with the
roof down. The ice warning light came on as we left the city centre
and headed for the M32, the heater was on full blast and it was
absolutely freezing, but we were determined to make it home without
putting the roof up. At 70 mph it was not too bad for the driver,
although gloves were necessary but as a passenger my knees were
beginning to freeze. On evenings like these I longed for one of
those travel rugs that my parents used to have. Amazingly our bodies
were not that cold but we did wish that MINI had specified the optional
heated seats. On the way home on the Motorway, a Police car drew
along side us, and we proved a source of amusement for them as they
pulled away. Maybe it was the sight of Noddy and Big Ears, or red
ears as they had become. However, we made it all the way home, over
100 miles with the roof down and although my knees were numb it
was not that bad, roll on the summer and those balmy evenings.
The MINI Convertible is easy to enter and to exit, with wide opening doors and low sills, the leather seats do help you slide in and out. Head and front leg room is good for front passengers. Rear seat passengers with the roof down will find entering the rear relatively easy; with roof up they will need to be a little more flexible. The rear seats will accommodate two adults (really designed for children) with reasonable comfort on short journeys; although they may feel a little cramped with the roof up on a long journey.
The main controls are easy to reach, the lower controls for the
window switches, ASC, central locking and fog lights although reminiscent
of the Classic MINI are a little fiddly to use on the move. We were
not too keen on the indicator and windscreen wiper stalks, which
felt rather weedy.
Around town with the roof up rear vision is restricted by the hood’s rear quarters, additionally with the roof down the rear head restraints and roll over bars obstruct vision for shorter drivers. All MINI Convertible models are fitted with rear Park Distance Control (PDC) as standard. Otherwise parking is easy.
The roof does take some of the boot space reducing the luggage capacity from 165 litres to 120 litres.
MINI Cooper Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||MINI Cooper Convertible|
|Colour||Cool Blue Metallic|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||9.8 Seconds|
|Top Speed||120 mph|
|Fuel Type||Unleaded Petrol|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||49.6 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||4|
|Warranty||3-year/unlimited mileage warranty|
6-year/unlimited mileage anti-corrosion guarantee
3-year Pan-European roadside assistance package
|Price (when tested on the 16/02/05)||£14,925 OTR|