Here's another in what will prove to be a long line of MINI Convertible reviews coming in the next month. This one is from BBC's Top Gear. Here's an excerpt:

“A huge New Mini fan, I've lost count of the number I've driven over the past three years, in places as far-flung as Minsk and Manhattan.

And yet, I've not really been looking forward to the Convertible. Why? Partly because soft-top versions of small cars are the sort of thing people who think they like cars (but actually don't) tend to go for, in the same way that anyone with a Celine Dion or Mariah Carey CD in their collection is more of a music hater than lover.

Transport as a trinket, in other words. Then there are the inevitable compromises: this car wasn't designed to be a convertible from the off, so in losing its head the Mini risks losing some of its terrific wieldiness too. “

“It also looks a bit funny. One of the standard car's stand-out features is its wraparound glazing, topped by a clever roof. For obvious reasons, the Convertible junks both and goes its own way, not entirely successfully. So chunky are the C-pillars that it's almost as if the new car is the Mini Convertible and van rolled into one.

A quick flick through the spec sheet reveals that a reverse parking sensor is standard even on the cheapest model. An interesting but unsurprising bit of BMW-sponsored generosity – I've visited submarines that have better over-the-shoulder rear three-quarter vision.

Nor is the Convertible's rear compartment much to write home about. Hood up, it's a bit of a dungeon and there's an unsightly gap at the side, which gives you a good view of the roof's inner gubbins. Then there's the rear seat. In fact, it's not so much a seat as a gentle hollow scooped out of some fabric. Designed, I would think, more with the Selfridges bag in mind than the human arse.

Especially when you discover how small the boot is. The lower half of the bootlid folds down like the original Mini's did – suspended on two slightly flimsy-feeling steel cables and a spring mounted retractor system – while you can unfasten the hood to lift up the top half, should you need to squeeze in a bulkier item. Like a toothbrush perhaps. Fold the seats away, and the luggage capacity increases to 605 litres.

Of course, it all makes sense when you get rid of the roof (of black, green or blue hues on Cooper models). It's a clever set-up, and the fabric itself is of impressively high quality.

Electro-hydraulically operated and fully folded in 15 seconds (via buttons on the A-frame above the rearview mirror), the roof operates in two stages. The first sees it slither back 40cm leaving a sunroof-like aperture, and operates at speeds up to 75mph. Press the button again and the whole lot arcs down.

Space was clearly at a premium, so the roof sits in a visible three-layer pile at the back of the car rather than hiding away completely. The glass rear window is another high quality touch, and the fixed rear headrests and aluminium roll-hoops look good, though oddly like two members of Kraftwerk in permanent transit.

Overall, and given the constraints, the Mini Convertible appears very tidy indeed. Vastly tidier than the last official Mini convertible of the mid-'Nineties anyway. Which was actually a pram.

And it's a great drive. It feels like a proper little roadster on the move, even with that upright windscreen and rising waistline, the air eddying satisfyingly around you.

The floor assembly and sills have been re-inforced, and there are extra crossbars and strengthened side panels. There's also a 'tube' of high-density steel in the A-pillars which can absorb one and a half times the car's mass in the event of a rollover (aided by those rear hoops).

All of which adds 100kg to the Mini's weight, blunting performance a bit: the Cooper version takes 9.8 seconds to reach 62mph, compared to 9.2 seconds for its fixed-roof equivalent.

The Mini's ride has always been on the firm side, so you'd expect any structural problems to be cruelly magnified now it's been converted. But there don't seem to be many. Even over coarse surfaces, there's no serious windscreen flex or noticeable shimmy through the steering wheel. It doesn't feel quite as solid as the current Mini – a very chunky little item – but it's still an excellent effort. Gearchange, steering and handling are all as good as ever.

The Convertible also ushers in a few other discreet changes. There's a revised front grille, some much needed improvements to the headlights, new detailing at the rear end, and a choice of vibrant new colours with the usual daft names. The car you see here is 'hot orange', but you could also have 'hyper blue' or 'black eye purple'. And people actually get paid to think these up.

Inside, there's a bigger doorbin, a new armrest, redesigned door handles, and the option of a 'body-coloured' interior. The main instrument display is unchanged, but as I'm the only person I've ever met who doesn't like it, this is presumably a good thing.

As is the car as a whole. Last year almost 100,000 convertibles were sold in the UK, many of which aren't anything like as fun or well executed as the Mini. Personally, I'd have junked the back seats, installed Ferrari 360 Spider-style fairings and roof, and made it even more of a roadster than it is. But then, I've never really seen the point of moisturiser.”

You can find the full article here.

One quick note – I was told my a MINI plant employee that the hardtop MINI was indeed designed to eventually be built in an open top configuration.