MINI goes topless
Mark 'Stretch' Batchelor, Wed, 22 Sep 2004 08:00:00 PDT
After a below average temperture Summer, the upper Midwest praire promised convertible weather for the 2005 MINI Cooper Convertible ride-n-drive. Twin cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota, where the mighty Mississippi river begins to gather momentum for her long winding path to the Gulf of Mexico is launch central for the anticipated event.
Sitting in the naviagator's slot, (passenger side), of the new 2005 MINI Cooper S (supercharged) convertible traveling east towards Wisconsin with "Always Open" (MINI's advertising convertible mantra,) top down with heated seats ON. Cool temps for me coming from the Sacramento California 100+ degrees.
River valley inversion fog giving the corn, soybean landscape a surreal calm, anticipation of sunlight coming as we head towards Afton, Mn on the St. Croix river. Kids out on the curb with Moms awaiting first day of school bus rides. The 2005 MINI Cooper S convertible grabbed everyone's attention as we purred by in third then second gear of the newly ratioed six-speed manual transmission. Specifically third and fourth gear are more matched to the increased horsepower (168hp) supercharged four cyclinder delight.
The MINI Cooper convertible shape retains the original redesign MINI shape plus the "Always Open", (top down) or sunroof addition. MINI Cooper convertibles standard wheels options are 15" or 16" five spoke rocket design while the Cooper S comes standard with 16" fin or17" star designs. The soft top convertible roof unique feature is the ability to retract and close to a sunroof position, (behind the front seats) while traveling down the road.
10 color choices including cool blue which changes color from blue to gray depending on view angles and standout hot orange my favorite. New for the 2005 MINI convertible is a more upright angle windshield that increases the big sky feel of the ride when the top is down.
The MINI convertible interior offers subtle additions to the MINI hardtop. The instrument dash has two options; standard MINI hardtop center cluster including the speedometer, and engine monitoring gauges or the optional Chrono gauge cluster incorporating beautifully designed coolant temperature, oil pressure/temperature, and warning lights while the speedometer and tachometer are housed separately directly in front of the steering wheel.
Seven different upholstery choices for the MINI convertible in cloth, leather or leatherette while the dash and door-plane inserts are available in silver, anthracite and aluminum-style trim.
Front seats come with manual height, fore/aft, rake and head-rest height adjustments while the MINI Cooper S convertible has contoured sport seats as standard.
Sunroof in a convertible? Both MNI convertible models permit retraction of the ragtop convertible top while driving to the rear of the front seats. Effectively giving the MINI convertible a sunroof. Note, the top fully retracts in 15 seconds.
PDC, (Park Distance Control) comes standard in both MINI convertibles. Simply, PDC sensors located in the rear bumper audibly notifies the driver when they are approaching an obstacle.Integrated roll bars designed into the rear seat headsets, (chrome options available) give the MINI convertible a seamless top down look and spacious driving feel.
The MINI's uniquely designed extendible trunk, (boot) and rear seat pass through access is a bonus for those not so mini packages, (golf clubs), while the equally new sunroof option for a convertible is a wonderfully clever and useable feature that can open and close while driving.
The 2005 MINI Cooper convertible models offer a multitude of options for both driving and comfort enhancements.
Driving enhancements that stand out include, Automatic Stability Control + Traction (ASC+T) (Standard on Cooper S), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), wider wheels, Xenon headlights and Chrono gauge package.
Comfort and interior options such as, Audio systems - Harmon/Kardon, CD changer, Navigation system with color display, Wind deflector, and Automatic climate control.
Rarely does a make-over of a classic design bring to fruition a superior, safer, and satisfying driving machine.
The 2005 MINI Cooper convertible models, both the standard 115hp normally aspirated in line 1.6 liter engine and the preferred supercharged Cooper S deliver a thrilling drive and equally comfortable ride for a sport sub-compact convertible.
Quick, precise, instantaneous driver feedbacks with the new 2005 stronger more rigid body and continued sport suspension result in a safe secure feel of the road and a pleasing driving experience.
Base prices start at $20,950 for the standard MINI convertible while the Cooper S begins at $24,400. The vehicle I drove was invoiced at $29,670. Heated seats, Automatic Stability Control + Traction (ASC+T) (Standard on Cooper S), and 17" gripping tires quickly convinced me of the MINI's superior technology and comfort.