A few weeks back we invited you to ask us questions about our weeklong stint behind the wheel of the 2009 R57 MINI Convertible. Well now we have the answers…

Question: can you put the top down AND up while driving less than 20 mph? can you still open the top using the key? (such a great feature – i use it all the time!)

MF: Yes you can do it at 20 mph or less and the top action now takes two seconds less.

Question: 1) Overall body rigidity 2) Handling vs hardtop and Clubman 3)Fabric top overall quality and operation vs R52 4) Visibility with and without the top 5) Trunk space 6) Rear seat comfort

MF: Rigidity is higher. Handling and turn-in are more eager than the Clubman, but less so versus the hardtop. Fabric quality looks the same but my understanding is that it has been improved. Visibility is bad with the top up but better due to larger side and rear windows. The boot is not surprisingly small but with the ability to fold the seats down it’s versatile. Rear seat comfort is the same as the R52 – almost non-existant.

Question: With the rear seats down, can you fit a road or mountain bike in the trunk with both wheels taken off?

MF: Hmmm – no idea. But if it’s possible I’d venture to say it would be extremely tight.

Question: How’s the rear visibility with the top up? Sure, with the rollbars gone, it’ll be better, but does the top still create large blind spots to the rear and sides. Early reports stated that the R57 would get a bigger rear glass to help with this, but more recent coverage hasn’t mentioned it.

MF: Yes the rear glass is larger. So is the side glass. All this combines to make rear visibility much improved.

Question: Any chance that the glove box lock with the central locking system? What about the storage gizmo above the glovebox? Does it lock at all?

MF: Only the glovebox has a lock. And it’s a manual lock via the key.

Question: Will existing R56 wind deflector fit in the R57?. Any improvements in ways to keep the rear window clean when driving on wet, sand-treated, (new england)winter roads?

MF: Nope – you’ll need a new one. And no the rear window still gets pretty gross.

Question: The question that is on the lips of the nation is: Just how useless is the Openometer?

MF: Quite.

Question: JCW suspension – when will it be available with the revised spring rates (for the heavier weight of the convertible model).

MF: It’s our understanding that the JCW suspension will not be offered on the R57 due to the same reasons it wasn’t offered on the R52 (rigidity issues). Or to put it another way, if you want something as serious as the JCW suspension, get the coupe.

Question: Does it have the “cold start rattle” like other the vehicles..?

MF: Like every MINI I’ve ever been around it didn’t have any cold start rattle.

Question: If I wanted to use non-runflat tires on 17inch rims, is that possible or would there not be enough clearance in the wheel wells of the R57.

MF: Completely possible and recommended.

Question: How much of a hit does the boot space take with the pop-up roll bars vs. the R52? How does the R57 sound with the top down? One of the most enjoyable things about the R52 is listening to engine and the “burble”.

MF: The popping sound is exclusive to the JCW R57 and is much deeper and throatier than the R52 MCS. The pop-up roll bars don’t really take up any more space.

Question: Auto-dimming rear-view mirror: Does the R57 re-position the light sensor so the auto-dimming mirror will respond with the top down?

BACKGROUND: On the first-gen MINI (particularly the R52 convertible) the light sensor is located on the BOTTOM EDGE of the rear view mirror. When the top is down the ‘roof stack’ casts a shadow across the light sensor so the mirror doesn’t dim when another car’s headlights are shining brightly on the rest of the mirror. It would undoubtedly work if the sensor was positioned higher.

MF: never noticed this as an issue so I’m guessing they fixed it somehow.

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