- Dec 23, 2004
2005 MINI Convertible: In The Autoblog Garage Day 3
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.
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.
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.
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.