- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

THE HAGUE — In Geneva, the Mini convertible undoubtedly will be one of the eye catchers of the show. Mini is already a huge success in the United States and the convertible will boost sales. Compared with the version with the steel roof, the convertible looks even more retro with its soft top closed and with the exposed hinges of the rear lid. The ragtop has an automatic Z-mechanism soft roof, which can be opened or closed in 15 seconds by the push on a button. The soft top also can be used as a sun roof: It can be opened 15.75 inches while driving up to a speed of 75 mph. It folds down behind the rear seats and has no need for a tonneau cover. The convertible comes with power side windows at the rear.

In case of a rollover, there are two small aluminum roll bars directly behind the head rests of the rear passengers to protect them. For added strength, the A-pillars are made of ultrastrong steel. They form part of several improvements to the torsional stiffness of the car.

The topless Mini has new bumpers both fore and aft, a new grille and new headlights. Fog lights are integrated in the front bumper and the indicators in the rear have been moved up in the lamp housing.

The convertible comes standard with four disc brakes, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and 175/65 R15 run-flat tires. Automatic stability and traction control as well as dynamic stability control will be available.

The Mini Cooper convertible with 115 horsepower will be introduced this summer, while the 164 horsepower Cooper S convertible will follow later. Prices have not been announced, but word is out that the convertible will be priced about $5,000 higher than the hardtop.

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