Pushing the boundaries of automotive engineering helped automakers create better, or even revolutionary, cars and the British brand MINI did the same again in 2023 when it launched the MINI Cooper SE Convertible.
The British brand was famous for creating unusual vehicles. They were not just attractive-looking but also beautifully engineered. With a few exceptions, most of their cars were sold like hotcakes. Of course, they had their flops, but the Convertible version was not among them. Another success story was the MINI Cooper SE, which sported an electric motor instead of an ICE. So, the automaker tried its luck and combined these two vehicles. The result was the first-ever open-top EV on the market, produced in a limited 999 units.
MINI made the vehicle available in two colors: Enigmatic Black and White Silver. Thus, these vehicles were easy to spot on the road. Also, the front fascia featured a black panel instead of the main grille. The car sported a body-colored bumper and, underneath it, a four-slat air intake to cool the electric drivetrain components. On the front fenders, behind the wheel wells, the automaker installed a set of vents fitted with a badge that said the car's production number. The automaker installed the charging port on the right-rear quarter panel, in the same place as the fuel-filler cap for ICE-powered versions of the MINI Convertible.
Inside, the cockpit promised enough room for four adults, albeit those seated in the back didn't have too much legroom. At the front, the driver and side passenger enjoyed the leather-wrapped sports seats. In addition, these were also heated. No words about ventilation, though. On the lower spoke of the steering wheel, the automaker placed the specific badge of MINI Electric.
The drivetrain was carried over from BMW and provided 181 hp (184 PS), and the battery pack provided enough juice for 201 km (125 miles).
MINI started the 2021 year in full blast introducing a new generation for its lineup and came with an S-version as well for the entire range.
Building a convertible was a must for MINI. It always had one on its lineup, and the 2021 range came with one as well. Unlike some of its previous generations, it came right from the start with the S-version, which means that the open-top small vehicle was able to punch and offer some good sensations behind the wheel.
From the outside, the new MINI Cooper Convertible shared the same front fascia with the rest of the range with the specific Cooper S air-scoops for that version. That included the piano-black trim around the grille and the horizontal bar for the license plate. It even sported that slat even for the U.S. market, where it was not required. But the carmaker added it anyway. Its strong, thick, slightly raked A-pillars served as safety arches. Unlike some of its predecessors, it didn't feature any other visible roll-over protection behind the rear seats. Instead, it showed the retractable roof, which couldn't be completely hidden behind the cabin.
Inside, the Cooper Convertible received a 5" instrument cluster fitted as standard. An 8.8" touch-screen dominated the center stack's top. MINI installed sport-bucket seats with high-bolstering for the sportier versions. The carmaker kept the same design for the steering wheel with three thick spokes and added buttons on the horizontal ones. Like on its predecessors, to access the rear seats, the front ones had to be tilted and slid forward. At least, there was no roof above to make the access difficult.
Offering the same fun-to-drive character as the Mini Hardtop, the Convertible was a drop-top version equipped with a power-operated soft top.
The 2018 Mini Convertible offered seating for four and was available in 3 trim levels: base, Cooper S and the top of the range, John Cooper Works.
The base Mini was fitted with a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder unit mated with a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional automatic gearbox.
Included in the base trim level were a power-operated fabric convertible top, 15-inch alloys, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, a cooled glovebox, cruise control, vinyl upholstery, a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.5-inch display and a 6-speaker audio system.
For those looking for extra power, the Cooper S was equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit that developed 189 hp. Exterior updates included a hood scoop, central mounted dual exhaust tips, 16-inch alloys, LED fog lights and sport front seats.
A hotter turbo 4-cylinder engine that developed 228 hp came with the John Cooper Works trim level. Other features included 17-inch alloys, more effective Brembo brakes, a tweaked suspension, LED headlights, a sport steering wheel and several design updates such as an aerodynamic body kit and a rear spoiler.
Besides the goodies that came with the Convertible, the Mini’s practicality was reduced. The limited storage space in the cabin as well as the insufficient Caro area was a major drawback for those who enjoyed long journeys.
The third generation of Mini was introduced in 2013 and, as usual, it received a convertible version for the delight of those who want to enjoy an open-air driving experience.
The MINI Convertible was the first open-top small-segment vehicle on the market. The most difficult part was to make the car stiff enough for a sporty ride, but comfortable as well for a relaxed one. For that, it was offered in several versions, including the John Cooper Works version.
At a glance, the new generation of the MINI looked the same as its predecessor, but the differences were in the details. The car featured new headlights with chrome rings and a hexagonal radiator grille. There were new turn-signals and a black periphery around the bottom edge of the body. The longer wheelbase and short overhangs made room for a bigger interior and an increase in the trunk space.
The MINI convertible offered four seats, but the room in the back was not that big. It was enough if neither one of the occupants was taller than 1.75m (5.7 ft). A new infotainment unit was installed on the car and it counted the minutes the driver drove with the top down. The soft-top could have been opened and closed within 18 seconds at speeds up to 30 kph (18.2 mph).
The MINI convertible was available with a choice of diesel and gasoline engines ranged between 116 hp and 231 hp. It was available with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic for all the versions.
MINI unveiled the open-top version of the second-generation hatchback at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, improving the car that looked similar to its predecessor.
By 2009, after the first generation under BMW's ownership, the British automaker understood better what its customer wanted from the vehicle. And they wanted a cool open-top city vehicle.
As expected, the open-top version of the Mini's second generation shared its front fascia with its hatchback sibling. Even though it looked very similar to its predecessor, all the body panels were new. Its headlights surrounded by chromed rims featured incorporated blinkers. In addition, on the front fenders, a second pair of turn signals increased the car's visibility in traffic. The folding roof was obviously the most significant difference from its three-door cousin. It was power-assisted as standard, and it could retract and close in a mere 15 seconds at speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph). At the back, the trunk was hinged on its lower side, offering enough room for a pair of flip-flops and a phone charger.
Inside, the automaker said it was enough room for up to four adults. That was an overstatement if any of those adults were taller than 5.6 feet (1.70 m) tall. There was almost no legroom for the rear passengers. But, at least all four side windows could roll down from the buttons placed on the lower side of the center stack, right under the HVAC control panel. The "Big-Ben" speedometer placed in the middle was easy to see by all passengers aboard. At the same time, the tachometer behind the steering wheel could have been read only by the driver.
Under the hood, BMW ditched the Chrysler-sourced 1.6-liter engines and struck a deal with the French carmaker to supply the gasoline powerplants. In addition, the second generation of the MINI, including the convertible, received a turbo-diesel version as well.
Following the successful revival of the brand MINI in 2000, the now German-owned British carmaker felt much obliged to add a facelifted version and revamp the range.
Some mandatory changes had to be done so the car could comply with the Euro5 emission standards and updated a few things that bothered the users before. But there were few things that the MINI convertible couldn't solve, such as the tiny, sandwich-sized trunk and the Chrysler-developed inline-four under the hood.
The car's exterior slightly changed at the front, where clear-lens headlights could have been fitted with Xenon lamps for better night-time visibility. Like the rest of the range, the Convertible featured a scoop on the hood that helped the supercharged version get some fresh air. In the open-top configuration, the MINI featured a pair of chromed roll-over protective arches behind the rear seats. They were fixed, and the canvas roof could retract completely behind them.
Inside, the cockpit was fit for two adults at the front and a pair of small-sized seats in the back. Of course, there was not enough room for four full-size grown-ups, but still, there was room enough for a large purse and some shopping. The dashboard featured the same big, round dial on the center stack. Depending on the version and options, an additional tachometer was added in front of the driver.
Under the hood, MINI had to go with the 1.6-liter, Brazilian-built powerplant available with either 8 or 16 valves. On top of that, the Cooper S version added a supercharged version that boosted the power up to 170 PS (168 HP). A five- or six-speed manual was available as standard, while a six-speed auto was offered as an option for the most potent version.