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When a December test drive rolls around, it's usually four-wheel drives that you imagine testing, not convertibles. But alas, here I am in mid-December with a brand new 2005 Chili Red MINI Convertible CVT on my hands for a few days. And when I say new, I mean this MINI had 22 miles on the odometer. Was I going to object? Hell no!

MINI Cooper Convertible InteriorBeing that I picked up the MINI Convertible after nightfall, I was really unable to get a good look at it in the dark conditions, so I took to getting a better feel for the interior. Getting inside the soft-topped MINI, the interior is wonderful, almost playful. The steering column mounted tachometer is right where it should be, the large center-mounted speedometer harkens back to the classic Mini, and of course everything is bathed in the amber glow of BMW backlights. The interior characteristic that perhaps impressed me most was how solid the interior is, and how it is almost completely devoid of the buzzes, rattles and creaks normally associated with convertibles.

If I had to complain about the interior from an aesthetic point of view, I would pick on two things, the steering wheel and clock position. The redesigned steering wheel, has a very chunky, bulky look, especially the center section, when compared with the original wheel. The clock actually took me nearly my entire ride home to find, as it is located on the speedometer, next to the digital odometer, where it seems to get lost in the shuffle. An (dis)honorable mention would go to the Chili Red dash panels, which match the MINI?s exterior paint. Maybe it?s just that I perviously owned a car with a red interior, and vowed never to again, but the red dash was just too much for me.

MINI Cooper Convertible Top Switch CoverThe initial motoring experience in the MINI Convertible was very pleasureable, but I?m not going to jump to any conclusions after just a few miles. And yes I know, what most everyone want me to get to already, the convertible roof, and how it works. Hey, I?ll get there, don?t worry. Just remember how much we were at Autoblog do for you, it?s not expected to be much past feezing here in Chicago, and I?ll be driving around with my top down. And yes, it was necessary to have the top closed?those MINI advertising boys are at it again (see picture at right).

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