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Open for adventure

Mini Cabrio and Clubman in Bali

There are many picturesque and exciting beach destinations around the Southeast Asian region, yet exploring them in Minis adds a whole new dimension. Among them, the island of Bali, Indonesia is easily one of the most popular. The locale welcomes millions of tourists a year, and it’s not hard to see why. The island’s unique Hindu influence, Asian hospitality and tempting blend of beaches both for surfing and swimming make for a packed itinerary.

It is here that we were flown in by Mini Asia to experience the unique destination in two of their newest vehicles: the Cooper S Cabriolet and Cooper S Clubman.

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Both vehicles feature the latest generation of Mini styling. It’s characterized by the English Bulldog-like “under bite”, twin intake scoops on the lower bumper, and rounded spoke wheels.

Easily stealing the show is the Cabriolet. The Cooper S model features a distinct and functional scoop on the hood, contrast stripes and a grayscale Union Jack pattern woven into the roof fabric.

Convertibles, while appealing and attractive, can be a tad impractical to own. Yet Mini addresses some of these issues with unique solutions. For one, it’s made loading bulky items into the trunk easier with the Easy Load Function. The tailgate folds down while the bottom part of the roof opens up to accommodate large bags. From inside, one can simply toss bags into the trunk.

When the sun is shining, it takes just 18 seconds to bring the power retractable top down. This can be down while the vehicle is moving up to speeds of 30 km/h. Naturally, there are days when the sun can be too harsh. Mini has a solution for this too with a targa mode. A quick press of the convertible switch retracts just part of the roof, turning it into a sunroof, without bringing the entire roof down. Those that opt for the regular Cooper will find the vehicle comes with canvas and fabric seats, allowing the owner to park the car with the top down all day, yet still slip into its seats that never heat up in the sun.

Nonetheless, the best way to enjoy it is still with the top completely down. It’s particularly eye-catching in Aquatic Blue, paired with a terra cotta leather interior that features diamond stitched inserts — seats you’d expect to find in a Rolls-Royce.

Propelling the Cooper S Cabrio is a 2.0-liter, 192 hp inline-four with TwinPower Turbo. This can rocket the car up to 100 km/h in just 7.1 seconds. In spite of the lack of a roof, the body stiffening and taut suspension make it a real treat to drive around winding roads. Slip into Sport mode and paddle shifters help keep your hands on the wheel, while the exhaust crackles every time you let off the throttle.

When driven more leisurely, the Cabrio will still reward with soothing tunes from the Harman Kardon sound system. It also makes a game out of saving fuel with the built-in Minimalism feature that encourages you to earn stars to feed the on-screen goldfish.

Our other steed, the Clubman was no less a joy to drive. Despite being one of the largest Minis ever made, with six doors and a long wheelbase, it returned the better ride and comfort of the two. There was more than enough room to stretch out while still leaving room for rear passengers. Its cargo area could easily accommodate four large luggage bags. We could still enjoy the Bali sun, too, thanks to twin sunroofs for the first and second rows.

The two vehicles were a perfect fit for Bali, which, after driving for three days and 380-km, entail the same kinds of driving challenges we encounter in any of the Philippines’ famous beach towns. The roads are narrow and populated by a large number of motorcycles to avoid. Traffic can quickly build up and need some clever maneuvering to get through.

In spite of the beautiful beaches, picturesque yet powerful waves, and hordes of tourists from nearly every nation in the world, the most memorable part of Bali were its roads, lined by arching decorative palms, intricately ornamented low walls, and undeniably laid back vibe.

There are many ways to enjoy both Bali and Minis, yet this way — leisurely driving from beach to beach, with little to worry about save for putting the top up or down — is easily the best and most rejuvinating of all.