Is there a better place to launch a roofless Mini than Los Angeles in the middle of winter? Temperatures during the drive event for the new 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible hovered in the mid-80s, and (a begrudging thanks to CARB here) there was only a thin haze to attenuate the sun. Moreover, the sprawled-out and uniquely Californian metropolis doesn't seem to hem in the longer, broader, ever so slightly taller Convertible. Even if you don't necessarily enjoy vehicles that inherently make a statement, driving a Cooper S Convertible around this style-conscious town at least attunes your sensibilities to the Mini norm. Since there isn't much mechanically or stylistically to differentiate the new Convertible from its Hardtop fraternal twin, we can cover the basics quickly. The exterior sheetmetal is, for better or worse, not much different. That means the large proboscis – a nod to pedestrian impact standards and a variety of other engineering and safety concerns – and longer rear overhang carry over. The jutting underbite and slightly walleyed headlight stance exaggerate how bulbous the front end has become with each subsequent generation. Taken in isolation, the Mini Convertible is still undeniably cute, but the English bulldog vibe is slowly being pushed out of the corporate design language as each new Mini is gently inflated. At some point, we'll hit the bursting point. The Mini Convertible is still undeniably cute, but the English bulldog vibe is slowly being pushed out of the corporate design language. Even in the space-compromised Mini Convertible, total cargo area increases by 25 percent to a useful 7.6 cubic feet maximum. The Easy-Load function, which props up the back edge of the soft top on a pair of spindly plastic struts, is a bit fussy but helps get awkward items in and out of the surprisingly deep cargo area. Smaller or soft luggage should go in without issue. Larger items might be better suited for the back seat. If you're buying a four-seat convertible, you should be prepared for these compromises ahead of time. Speaking of time, the top's operation is reasonably quick. It takes 18 seconds to raise or lower the top, at up to 18 mph. It was fast enough for a stoplight change to test out the situation with the lid on. If you've ever been in a last-generation Mini 'Vert, it's about the same – big blind spots mar the view, but it's remarkably quiet. Oddly, the rear view mirror works better with the top up; folded down, the roof and large rear headrests crowd the scene. The new gimmick for the Convertible is a Union Jack pattern woven right in the fabric, mimicking one of the roof graphics available in the Hardtop models (part of the Mini Yours semi-customization program). When the top is open, the collapsible wind-blocker spans the airspace over the rear seats like some sort of plasticky, Germanic suspension bridge. It works incredibly well, although its presence is mutually exclusive to any rear-seat passengers willing to cram …
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|MPG||22 City / 31 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||228 @ 5200 rpm|
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