Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible As far as we can tell, the 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible draws cold air wherever it goes. First came the drop-top's ironic unveiling in Detroit, where we had the misfortune of experiencing one of the coldest, snowiest shows in recent memory. Just over a month later, we found ourselves in the cabrio-friendly climes of Southern California, where temperatures in the mid-50s did their best to spoil our open-air fun. But in spite of the chilly atmosphere, we bit the bullet, dropped the top and put the new MINI 'vert to the test to see if the lil' British runabout lives up to its "Always Open" tagline. Make the jump to find out what drop-top Motoring is all about. %Gallery-45697% Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc. 2009 is a big year for MINI. In August, the automaker will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sir Alec Issignis' creation, and later this year, MINI will launch its fourth variant, a smallish CUV that will be similar to the Crossover Concept originally shown in Paris. Jim McDowell, VP of MINI-USA, made it clear that the CUV would not carry the Crossman moniker, but that's a story for another day, as the MINI Cooper Convertible awaits. It took some time, but the new cabrio is finally based on the second generation (modern) MINI that debuted in late 2006. Like its hatchback and Clubman siblings, the newest version is slightly longer than the original revival, mainly to meet current crash and pedestrian safety standards. The nose is a bit higher and rounder, but still utterly familiar and instantly recognizable as a MINI. The interior, dominated by the huge central-mounted speedometer, is essentially identical to the rest of the MINI range, save one unique element to the convertible: the "Openometer." The new gauge hangs on the steering column to the left of the tachometer and tracks the amount of time the MINI is driven with the top down. The needle rotates clockwise for every minute the car is operated in drop-top mode, up to 60 minutes. At that point it, it flips back to the start point and LEDs illuminate for each hour you're enjoying the outside world. The chassis computer tracks the cabrio's total time with the top down over its lifespan and MINI USA Marketing Manager, Trudy Hardy, explains that the company is working on a variety of social networking tools that will allow owners to compare their "open time" with other MINI drivers. One predictable method being considered is the development of an iPhone app that would download the overall open-air time from the MINI's computer when the phone/MP3 player/global domination tool is plugged in and then automatically transmit it to a special website. While the "Openometer" is fun gimmick, it adds nothing to the driving experience. That's where the mechanical bits come into play. The first order of business is putting the roof down, and like …
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|MPG||28 City / 37 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||118 @ 6000 rpm|
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