Sunday, December 20, 2009

2010 MINI Convertible: Second Generation Model Breaks Cover - U.S. Pricing Included

The next-generation MINI Convertible has been revealed ahead of its worldwide debut in January at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Scheduled to hit dealerships worldwide in late March 2009, the new MINI Convertible follows in the footsteps of its hatchback sibling, meaning that you'll find a hard time distinguishing it from its predecessor. Nevertheless, the Convertible's exterior has been updated with new details like the headlamps, tail lamps and front/rear bumpers while the four-pivot hinges for the luggage compartment top are now mounted inside the car.

The new MINI Convertible's soft-top that comes with an integrated sliding roof function can open or close automatically in 15 seconds flat, even when the car is in motion up to 20 mph or 40km/h. In what could be one of the most useless gadgets of the year, MINI has equipped the four-seater with an "Openometer" gauge next to the tachometer that records how many hours have been spent with the top-down.

With the roof down, the vehicle's luggage capacity has been slightly increased to 23.10 cu.ft / 170 lt (+1.93 cu.ft or +5 lt). Like its predecessor, the new MINI Convertible again comes with an Easy-Load system. With the rear lid down, the entire lid also serves as a storage tray able to carry a load of up to 176 lb or 80kg.

MINI said that even though it has improved the new Convertible's body stiffness over the former model, it has also achieved a reduction in vehicle weight by 22 lb or 10 kg. In terms of safety, the 2010 model has gained a new single-piece rollover protection bar behind the rear seats that spans the entire interior width of the car, without obstructing the driver's visibility, and moves into position automatically in the event of a potential rollover

The new MINI Convertible will be available in two engine variants: the Cooper Convertible equipped with a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 118HP at 6,000 rpm and the Cooper S Convertible powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a Twin-Scroll turbocharger and direct gasoline injection delivering 172 HP at 5,500 rpm. It is most likely that MINI will enhance the Convertible's range with a diesel variant in late 2009.

Both the Cooper and Cooper S will be equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard with optional six-speed automatic transmission.

The British firm also said that the 2010 model will be offered with a wider range of paint colors, roof colors, wheels, and upholstery and interior trim choices

Orders for the MINI Convertible in the U.S. are being taken now with the price for the MINI Cooper Convertible set at $24,550 and for the MINI Cooper S Convertible $27,450, including the $650 destination and handling charge. Delivery of the first MINI Convertibles in the States will begin on March 28, 2009.

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