Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Change News
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory

Bookmark and Share
2005 Mini Cooper Convertible Review

2005 Mini Cooper Convertible New Car Review
by Denise McCluggage


"It's better than the sedan version," remarked a journalist on the way to the Minneapolis Airport having spent a day driving the new 2005 Mini Cooper convertibles.

"How so?"

"Well, it does everything the Mini sedan does and the top comes off as well."

Point taken.

2005 Mini Cooper Convertible

When Bayerische Motoren-Werke (a.k.a. BMW) took on the resurrection of that extremely British icon, the Mini, doubts abounded. But BMW got it right as rain. Spang on. Nail on the head. And they keep scoring full points with every new move, such as offering a four-passenger topless Mini. And all done with a slightly off-center sense of humor that's particularly appropriate to open-air motoring. For instance, there's the matter of choosing "MINI-apolis" for the press introduction of the convertible. And including with each car a contract that elicits a promise from new owners to drive in top-down mode 90% of the time. (The Mini Cooper convertible motto: "Always Open.")

In the contract reasons acceptable for top up operation are listed (requiring the owner's initials.) One such: "After hair plug surgery." Another: "When within earshot of an outdoor banjo and/or kazoo concert."

But there will likely be MINI-mum infractions of the top-down contract anyway. What may be the cleverest top ever converts from open to closed in some 15 seconds, a small part of most red-light stops. And all brought about by one finger pressing one button - no need to fiddle with fingernail-unfriendly latches or twisting a handle. The button does it all whether opening or closing.

The top, on the way to full open, can be stopped at a sunroof-cum-landau position. This can be accomplished (even at highway speeds) because the first 15-¾ inches of the soft, unlined top is board-rigid. The rigid section slides back and allows the front-seat passengers to look upward at any passing Alps, tall buildings, traffic lights or down-smiling occupants of looming SUVs.

The rigid section also serves as a firm cover when the top Z-folds itself like so much ribbon candy behind the twin roll bars at the back of the passenger compartment. (A neat little fashion statement, those roll bars, as well as functional.)

The top, whether up or down, looks right with much the same Toastmaster profile when up as the perky sedan has. (The convertible top is actually a little lower than the sedan.) With the top down this Mini looks as inviting as a bubbling hot tub; you just want to get in it and open the senses to pleasure.

All this verbiage about a top? (Oh yes, it also features a real-glass rear window, heated.) And more about that top: the remote locking device not only controls the doors, trunk and fuel door but can open the roof from some 49 feet away. Can't you see it? You're strolling nonchalantly towards your car, whistling "Strawberry Fields Forever," and the car is contract-compliable just as you pull the door open. As if the smarty-pants machine didn't get enough attention. (Won't close remotely though.)

And still more: the top comes in black, blue and green to mix and match with 10 body colors, including two exclusive to the convertible: Hot Orange and Cool Blue. School colors here we come.

Tops, after all, are what differentiates a convertible from a sedan.

You'll probably have to park a sedan nearby to notice, but the convertibles have a redesigned front bumper, headlights and grille. New taillights, too. All in evolutionary range of the brilliant original design.

2005 Mini Cooper Convertible Review

Puppy-cute as it may be, the Mini ragtop is as serious a motoring machine as any other Mini, which means it combines amusement with an astonishing ability to tame twisty roads and wet surfaces. It is furthermore eminently parkable, emits a pleasing exhaust note, protects occupants with four airbags and probably offers more value, esthetically and kinesthetically, than anything I can think of that has ever graced a roadway.

Standard on this appealing little package are antilock (ABS) disc brakes all around. An electronic system allots brake force distribution, fore and aft and side to side. Traction and stability control systems are options.

All Mini convertibles come equipped with PDC - Park Distance Control - that serves as "eyes" in the rear bumper to sense the distance from another car or the mailbox post. The warning is visual and audible. Actually, this is more a necessity than a convenience because, like most convertibles, this one has limited line-of-sight rearward, particularly with the top up. Fortunately the lozenge-shaped side mirrors, when properly adjusted, afford a fair view to any diligent driver.

Space in the barely 12-foot length of the Mini is remarkably well allotted. Four adults can ride comfortably if none of them is in the NBA draft. Rear seat passengers lose some shoulder room when the top is down and all must travel duffel-soft and light. However if just two are aboard they can divide 21 cubic feet of storage space because the rear seats fold flat. The space is accessible from the rear, too.

2005 Mini Cooper S Convertible

The trunk lid is a throw back to the mid-century Mini of Mod London in that it folds downward rather that lifts up. This makes trunk access easy as provides a sort of tailgate, but therein lies a danger: the lid will hold 175 pounds. Better to take folding stools and use it as a table than risk an overweight sitter.

The Mini Cooper can be had with either a 5-speed manual or a Constant Velocity Transmission (CVT) automatic, a stepless pleasant enough manner of going, but the 5-speed is so nice it makes learning to shift for yourself worth the tiny effort. Better performance, too. The Mini Cooper S has a 6-speed with variations in the gear ratios that are new for 2005.

The engine powering this luxurious little package is a sophisticated overhead cam 1.6 liter, which revs willingly and struts importantly. There is nothing base about this base engine, even at altitude.

In this Mini Cooper horsepower is 115 with torque 111 lb-ft.; the Mini Cooper S thanks to supercharging (which means no turbo lag) gets 168 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft of torque.

The S has been tweaked for 2005 with changes in the supercharger, the exhaust and the gear ratios in the 6-speed Getrag gearbox granting the S the ability to reach 60 mph in 7 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph. The engine's new spirit and the Mini's celebrated handling means that words like "scamper", "scoot" and "dart" fill any description of it.

"Economical" might also be added. The Mini Cooper is rated at 27 city, 35 highway for the 5-speed manual and 26-33 for the automatic. The Mini Cooper S is 25 city, 32 highway.

A list of options ranges from contoured sport seats, leather, a navigation system, heated seats and run-flat tires to etcetera, etcetera. Making a Mini one's own is part of the fun and there's a raft of opportunities. And the aftermarket is standing by with even more.

I have noticed that the Mini in its sedan manifestation is a frequent object of presents - racing stripes, flames, fog lamp covers, flag designs for the side mirrors etc. The convertibles may well be even more successful at gift gathering.

Or as a gift itself. To the Mini hardtop already in the garage for instance.

Or me.

For More Information Click : Mini Cooper Convertible