MINI’s new Convertible features a built-in app that tells you when a storm is coming

The third-generation MINI Hardtop is going topless in time for the Tokyo Motor Show. MINI’s new Convertible is scheduled to go on sale next spring as a 2017 model.

Built on BMW’s modular UKL platform, the Convertible is equipped with a power-retractable cloth soft top that opens or closes in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 18 mph. The new model gains a clever sunroof option that allows the passengers to retract the front part of the top by about 15 inches regardless of how fast the car is moving.

The four-seater cabin is identical to the MINI Hardtop’s. Trunk space checks in at 5.7 cubic feet with the top open and 7.6 cubes with the top closed.

Interestingly, the Convertible comes with a built-in Always Open Timer that lets the driver know how many hours he or she has spent driving with the top down. The Always Open Timer will likely be a popular gadget in cities like Los Angeles and Miami, but it might lead to a higher-than-average number of motorists trading in the ragtop prematurely in places like Seattle.

Another innovative piece of tech packed into the Convertible is a rain warning application that emits audible and visual warnings if a storm is approaching. The rain warning app takes the stress and the unpredictability out of driving a convertible on overcast days.

At launch, buyers will be asked to choose from two models called Cooper and Cooper S, respectively. The Convertible is mechanically identical to the Hardtop, meaning the Cooper model packs a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that delivers 134 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 162 pound-feet of torque at 1,250 rpm. It reaches 60 mph from a stop in 8.3 seconds when it’s fitted with the standard six-speed manual transmission, and it performs the same task 0.1 seconds faster with the optional six-speed automatic.

The more expensive Cooper S packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s rated at 189 hp at 5,000 rpm and 207 lb-ft. of torque at 1,250 rpm. Bolted to a six-speed manual transmission, the turbo four sends the MINI ragtop from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Selecting the optional six-speed automatic yields a zero-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds.

After greeting the show-going public in the Japanese capital, the 2017 MINI Convertible will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show. Pricing information will be published in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date.

Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.
Cars

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.
Cars

Report: Amazon and General Motors may invest in electric pickup company Rivian

General Motors and Amazon may invest between $1 billion to $2 billion for minority stakes in U.S. startup Rivian, an all-electric truck company, Reuters reports. Rivian introduced the R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto show.
Cars

BMW’s X3 M and X4 M pack 503 horsepower in nontraditional form

BMW is starting even further from its heritage with the 2020 X3 M and X4 M performance crossovers. But with up to 503 horsepower available in each vehicle, does that really matter?
Cars

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.
Cars

Ford F-150 recall: Fault could cause vehicle to downshift into first gear

Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 vehicles over a potential fault that could cause it to suddenly downshift into first gear. The automaker said it's currently aware of five accidents related to the issue.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.