There's not a better feeling in the world than a topless ride in a great car on a perfectly sunny summer day. Here are some great convertible buys for 2016.
BMW just keeps lopping off cylinders from its engines and sliding the ever-more-diminutive mills into its models. This spring, Europeans will get some of the automaker's smallest yet thanks to a new entry-level 2 Series that will share a powerplant with the Mini Cooper. The Bavarian company will also introduce a few other tweaks to the compact coupe across the pond.
Whenever this writer thinks of fancy parking jobs, we go straight to Buddy Love singing Strokin' in a red Dodge Viper he slides into a tiny space in The Nutty Professor. But after watching the video above, we might have to start thinking about Han Yue, who broke the world record for getting into the tightest parallel parking space. The previous record was set in July 2013 by Alastair Moffatt, who had 3.4 inches to spare between his car and those around. Yue used a Mini Cooper at the China Drift
Things aren't looking good for Mini this year. The diminutive BMW brand has shown falling sales every month in 2014 in our By the Numbers wrap-ups. If that weren't bad enough, the latest Cooper Hardtop suffered fuel economy issues upon arriving to the US. First, there was a delay getting some versions certified, and then several models had to have their miles-per-gallon ratings revised.
After the huge problems that Hyundai/Kia experienced with its mislabeled fuel economy labels, you'd think that any time an automaker has to adjust its mpg numbers, heralds would be shouting from the rooftops. But, after Ford admitted to three big mistakes with its numbers for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz had to lower the fuel economy rating for the C-Class, we understand if those heralds are a bit tired by now.
We've seen it in super high-res glory, and we can even build one on the automaker's website, but the Paris Motor Show marks the official coming out party for the new Mini Hardtop 4 Door (which is what it's called in the US, despite this Euro car having "5 Door" badging). It's a stretched version of the third-generation Mini Hardtop, but with an extra set of doors for rear seat passengers. Think of it as a more useful Clubman, but with a lower ride height and less rugged-ness than the Countryman.
The Mini Cooper five-door hatchback, which the company insists on calling the Mini Hardtop 4 Door, doesn't start arriving at US dealers until January 2015. However, if you dig the latest model's styling but can't live without the two extra doors, you can start speccing one right now in the recently launched configurator.
With the latest generation of Minis having only recently launched a few months ago, the company's Plant Oxford has found another reason to celebrate as it reached two major milestones almost simultaneously. Since production of the new, BMW-revived version began there in 2001, the factory has produced 3 million of the retro-looking models and 2 million vehicles exported outside of the UK. Just four years ago, it was celebrating building 1.5 million of them.