CUT OF CLOTH WINS FANS Competitive pricing and standard features lift sales, CRAIG DUFF writes
NEW Mini convertible owners will be rapt to be buying the cheapest droptop in brand’s Australian history. Existing may less enthused the new and improved model is about $5000 cheaper than one in their garage.
Mini is unapologetic, saying it has come as a result of market feedback
competition. General manager Tony Sesto says dealers will make less money on each car but should sell more.
“I asked, ‘do you want to sell cars, or do cars’,” says. “Mini had 30 per cent growth last year and is up 17 date that figure. We’ve trimmed the line-up back to our core models and convertible an important part of that range. Demand is already there it will pick again during summer.” When Mini launched
range locally in 2005 the price of a Cooper with automatic transmission was $38,100. Today is $37,900 and includes dual-zone aircon, a reversing camera a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that can propel the rag-top four-seater to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds.
The Cooper S is now on sale for $45,400. Beyond sportier and an auto transmission with paddle shifters, it adds LED lamps, upgraded navigation, sports seats and a trio of driving modes. The 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder is the enthusiasts’ pick, with power torque up by 40 per cent and 30 per cent over threecylinder engine.
The body much stiffer than the previous model there is more leg
shoulder room in cabin — though still not enough down back for this to be a serious four-seater and the boot space is up by quarter to 215 litres with roof or 160 litres with it down.
The an electrically closing soft-top that takes 18 seconds raise or lower and can be done 30km/h. There’s even a “sunroof ” function where the leading edge of the fabric roof slides back to let daylight in without dropping top.
A six-speed auto is default transmission, though six-speed manual can be ordered as a no-cost option. That’s your fault, too — 85 per cent of Mini convertible buyers opt for the auto.
Speaking options, the list is extensive always and it takes very little penmanship to boost price of either car by $10,000 or more. The visual highlight is probably Union Jack flag woven into the roof fabric for $900.
Convertibles should be about driving enjoyment as well as pose value and this little car manages to combine the two. Even under full acceleration or hard cornering there is little body flex in Mini. Corrugations can provoke occasional tick from the top of car but it a fairly refined little package. Put that down to tougher donor car in the form of the new Mini hatch and plenty Vshaped bracing through underbody to keep tied down.
In other regards it is a typical Mini, from the responsive steering to slick gear changes up down the ratios.
The 1.5-litre obvious choice for those who spend most of their time in the city. It’s not slow, uses half a litre less fuel over 100km than fourcylinder and is $7500 cheaper.
The Cooper S boasts bubblier exhaust appreciably more go and will make an ideal open-top tourer.
A back seat makes it practical than most drop-tops Mini says it sees the likes of the Citroen DS3 Peugeot’s yet-to-arrive 208 CC as obvious rivals. I’d toss Golf convertible into that mix well.
The downside convertible ownership is usually rear visibility and the Mini doesn’t dodge this bullet.
plastic window doesn’t show a lot of real estate and the view is similarly limited when head-checking blind spots before changing lanes. Drop the roof it bunches up behind rear seats, effectively obscuring most sedans.
Wind noise with roof down is more than acceptable and those of average height will find the breeze faintly ruffles their hair. A deflector can be quickly fitted to sit above back seats quell in-cabin turbulence at speed. It works … but you’re not carrying four at that point.
On price, performance and features this is the best Mini convertible yet. While far from perfect, it is a relatively affordable drop-top with some ability to hang on around corner without warping chassis.