• Dec 23, 2004

Well, day three with the MINI Convertible is a day late due to a lack of connectivity yesterday afternoon, but all is working again, so here goes…

In my first two days with the MINI Cooper Convertible, I have heaped lavish praise on the tiny droptop. But has driving an open-topped MINI in mid-December given me a brain freeze, rendering me unable to talk bad about it? No, not quite, I just happen to enjoy small, sporty cars. On day three however, I came across what are perhaps the MINI Convertible's biggest drawbacks.

MINI Cooper Convertible Boot

As I have said before (and will likely say again), driving the MINI Cooper is pure fun. This is a vehicle that is meant to be driven, not sit in a garage collecting dust to keep the mileage low. However, I don?t think it was meant to be driven to the store. On day three, a friend and I took the MINI to go do some Christmas shopping. Well, let?s just say it was a good thing that we did not purchase much (of anything). Where as the hardtopped MINI has a hatch with fold down rear seats, the convertible model has a flip-down tailgate, and lowered trunk (or ?boot? as it would properly be termed) height, due to the convertible top. It does retain the fold down rear seats, which would help the cargo space deficiency, but the stationary roll bars will not allow for anything of significant height to be passed through the boot and over the rear seats. Without the rear seats folded down however, I would not expect to get more than three (maybe four on a good day) paper grocery bags into the boot of the MINI Convertible before having to resort to the rear seats for additional storage space.


MINI Cooper Convertible Rear Seats And while we?re on the topic of storage space, I should make mention of the rear seats. It should come as no surprise that unless you are a small child (like under five or six years of age), a midget (sorry, ?vertically challenged? for the PC crowd), an double leg amputee, or are content just laying across the two rear seats, you are not going to fit in the back of the MINI. At 5'9", I am by no means tall, but with myself in the driver?s seat, unless you are one of the aforementioned, forget about fitting in back behind the driver. This is due to the fact that the front seats are positioned very close to the center of the car, so they will fit two adults very comfortably. In fact, my friend is well above 6-feet tall, and he fits with plenty of room to space (no, we did not have to cut a hole in the roof). Now if a smaller passenger is in the front seat, it can be moved forward and a normal sized human can fit in the back seat. It is not overly comfortable, but it will do to get you from point A to point B.

MINI Cooper Convertible Steering Wheel As I mentioned on day 2 with the MINI, rear visibility is extremely limited, and the blind spots are especially bad. This is only worsened at night, and will give a MINI Convertible driver considerable anxiety performing lane changes and backing up, until they grow accustomed to the poor visibility. The steering wheel is still bothering me as well, namely the radio/cruise controls mounted on it. The point of them being there is too keep the drivers attention on the road, not the wheel. But, due to their awkward placement I keep having to look down to make sure I am hitting the right button, completely defeating their purpose.

So no, the MINI Cooper Convertible is not perfect, but no car is perfect. Okay, so maybe I would say the MINI Convertible is perfect if it were dropped off in my driveway this Christmas, with a nice big red bow and tag that read ?To: Steven, From: MINIUSA.? Yes, there are some annoyances, and some bad things about the car, the sunvisors are?well, mini (go figure), the chromed shift knob is COLD during winter months, the clock is hard to read, the cup holders are useless (I ended up using the rear cupholder), there is no center armrest, the steering wheel is fugly, and it has got to have the largest key I have ever seen for any car. But, even with a fair amount of annoyances, none of them really take away from the overall driving experience the MINI Convertible seeks to create.

As it appears that day 3 is to be my last day with the MINI Convertible (much to my disappointment), tomorrow I suppose I will be posting a roundup of the diminutive droptop, as well as an image gallery.

Read about Day 1 and Day 2 in the MINI Cooper Convertible.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 6 Comments
      • 10 Years Ago
      Unlike Steve, I think the key is fine. Not as nice as my Passat's, but still nice. And the cupholder/stereo issue? I'm sure my brother would agree, as his wife's cup of water went very nicely into the stereo on his Jetta GLX. Water and electronics don't mix. I still want one. British Racing Green, if you please, tan leather. And a manual trans (though that CVT is slick).
      • 10 Years Ago
      Actually, Mini sent us a special coffee cup that was specifically designed to fit in those cup holders in front of the shifter. My fiancee uses it all the time. It's shame they changed the steering wheel. The old one had the radio controls on the back and made them easy to use - I could use two of my fingers to toggle the controls instead of my thumbs. Bt the way, Steven, did you notice any jerkiness in the car at low RPMs?
      • 10 Years Ago
      Yes, the convertible top area above the boot does flip up a few inches to get a package that would be slightly larger than the boot into it. That being said, it's not going to help much. I was going to mention it, but I didn't have a picture of it and it's rather difficult to explain how it works. Actually the lack of an armrest doesn't bother me so much, heck it took me until day three to notice it ;). It would be nice to have one, and I do know that MINI is now offering one (at nearly $200 I believe), but surprisingly it doesn't really seem all that necessary. Not to mention it would cut off access to the only usable cupholder in the car. And I'm aware of this MINI coffee cup that fits the front cupholders, but it really doesn't fit that well. It actually rubs up against the toggle switches when you try to put it into the cupholder. There is the larger (much larger) cupholder bolted to the pillars that border the center console. It's an option though, and it's ugly as sin. Not to mention, I have a problem with a drink holder being above or right next to the stereo. Maybe that is just me though... The rear seats are pretty tight as I mentioned, but I think the lack of leg room is more pressing that the lack of shoulder room. You can live with less shoulder space, but you can't even sit back there without the leg room. And the steering wheel controls really are that bad. Dave, it's literally as though they took the PS2 controls and grafted them onto the steering wheel. BTW, I appreciate everyone going pretty easy on me with this review. It's my first real review of a car. It's quite hard to put your own thoughts on a car into words, a lot harder than people probably think. I have to give Dave props for how well he does with all his reviews.
      • 10 Years Ago
      I'll fully agree with you about the steering wheel. It was a pointless change to go from the two spoke, to the bumper-ish three spoke. And yes, the sun visors are quite poorly designed. But a car like a MINI shouldn't come standard with an arm rest. It's a car for motoring, not resting. Same with the cupholders. I want to drive a car, not a beverage cart. Screw cup holders. Also, if you didn't actually sit in the back seat, you're missing out one one of MINI's big secrets. To fit someone in there, yes, the front seats have to be pushed more forward than most people probally have them, and you also need to make sure that they are lifted up enough so the rear seat passengers have enough foot room under the seats. But if you do give them just enough legroom, it's not that bad of a ride. The back seats are so very comfortable, you don't mind not moving too much, nor feel the need to have to. So unless you're driving around for a few hours, it's really not as bad as one would think. Or at least, it's no worse than sitting in an uncomfortable rear seat with more leg-room.
      • 10 Years Ago
      Apparently you can detatch the bottom of the top and swivel it up a foot or so so you can fit larger items in the back. It might have to be dropped as that is how it was pictured. MINI Now has an armrest (in addition to several aftermarket) but we don't have a real answer as to why it is not yet offered in the US. I have it in mine. There should have been an additional larger cupholder installed on one of the pillars by the radio, MINI adds this to all US cars because of our big drinks--and that brings the total cupholders to four. I actually have mine removed, use the front two for coins and camera, and use the rear one for actual cupholding, which is surprisingly easy to reach while driving. The rear seats of the convertible must be extra tight as the sides where your shoulders and arms go in the hardtop MINI have been replaced by the convertible mechanism. As for the key..yes large, but the fob buttons are built in. Actually it is BMWs and they all have the same keys..it just looks larger next to the small MINI. :)
      • 10 Years Ago
      it looks like the mini's wheel is ready to play PS2 games right out of the box.