Munich. Hardly any region has changed as much in recent years as the western coastal section of Schleswig-Holstein. The upturn for the structurally weak area came with the subsidies for renewable energies, the conversion to organic farming and increasing numbers of tourists. Farm holidays are booming, as is the demand for organically produced food. However, the energy transition has left its most obvious traces in the northernmost federal state. The locals call the wind turbines, of which more than 3,000 have been built in Schleswig-Holstein, “energy asparaguses”. The state covers 100 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, and the green energy brings additional income to the farmers on whose land the wind turbines are located. There are no wind turbines to disturb the eye of the visitor in the classic tourist areas – instead historic grain mills are a pleasing sight to look at.

The vigorous wind, the pure North Sea air, winding country roads and the prospect of a sunny day at the beach make the coastal region the ideal destination for a trip in the MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk (fuel consumption combined: 6.9 – 6.5 l/100 km (WLTP), 6.7 – 6.5 l/100 km (NEDC); combined CO2 emissions: 157 – 148 g/km (WLTP), (153 – 149 g/km (NEDC). In its latest edition, the open-top four-seater edition model combines its exclusive Deep Laguna metallic paintwork with the striking details of the new reduced MINI design language. The expressive tone of blue, in which the bumper strip is now also painted, and the model-specific bonnet stripes with edges in a contrasting colour set off the vehicle front with the enlarged hexagonal grille and the typical MINI round headlights in a particularly stylish way. The redesigned side scuttles are framed by a model identification featuring the “Sidewalk” inscription, and at the rear the two exhaust tailpipes are now surrounded by strikingly contoured surfaces painted in body colour. 17 inch Scissor Spoke 2-tone light-alloy wheels are also standard equipment on the edition model.

The soft top in the exclusive Sidewalk design with woven arrow graphics remains closed for the time being as we speed along on motorway no. 23. Instead of the airstream, it’s the 131 kW/178 hp 4-cylinder engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo technology which unleashes its power. One highlight on this route is the raised bridge that crosses the Kiel Canal, which links the North sea and the Baltic Sea. More than 30,000 ships use it every year as a shortcut that runs right through Schleswig-Holstein. This makes the 98-kilometre-long canal one of the busiest man-made waterways in the world.

Soon after, the motorway ends, and now the route to the coast continues along country roads. As soon as we open the top – the fully electric drive of the soft top only needs 18 seconds – fresh sea air flows into the interior of the MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk. And we notice something else, too: dikes and sheep. The dikes are up to nine metres high, have a sand core and are covered with thick marsh soil. The sheep are in charge of keeping them in shape. There are about 350,000 sheep and lambs in Schleswig-Holstein – with a human population of just under 2.9 million. The sheep keep the grass short and compact the soil so that moles and mice have no chance of rooting around in it and making the dike unstable. Whereas in the past dikes were built to obtain arable land, today new dikes serve exclusively to protect the coast.

The largest town on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein is Husum. With a well-kept historical centre and cobbled streets, a picturesque market and restored gabled houses from the 16th century, the birthplace of the writer Theodor Storm (“Der Schimmelreiter” (The rider on the white horse)) exudes plenty of historical charm. One of the most popular destinations is the inland harbour with cutters, ewers, traditional sailing boats, restaurants, cafés and – as in every place on the coast – fish stalls.

From Husum, narrow country roads partly lead directly along the coast to the Eiderstedt peninsula. This is where the benefits of the optional Adaptive Chassis come in. With its new damper technology, it combines hallmark MINI agility when cornering in sporty style with optimised suspension comfort, which means that even driving over cracks and potholes in the asphalt doesn’t become an ordeal. The MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk is now pointed to another landmark of the west coast, the Westerheversand lighthouse, well-known from countless films, in the far west of the Eiderstedt peninsula. The red and white tower stands on a mound and is almost 42 metres high. It was built on a foundation of tree trunks and concrete to prevent it from subsiding. However, if you want to enjoy the stunning view from the tower, you not only have to register in advance, but also walk two and a half kilometres along a historic path across the salt marshes.

One of the tourist hotspots on the North Sea coast is the spa town of St. Peter-Ording – It resembles something like a gigantic sandbox. Twelve kilometres of beach, up to two kilometres wide at low tide, attract hundreds of thousands of recreation-seekers and sports enthusiasts every year. Windsurfers, kitesurfers and beach surfers, who have the ideal conditions for their sport here, provide a colourful backdrop. Characteristic of St. Peter-Ording are the 13 pile dwellings that were erected on five different sections of the beach from 1911 onwards. They are only open during the season, are up to eight metres high and house a couple of restaurants in addition to the beach attendants.

In the towns of Ording and Böhl, guest card holders are even allowed to drive across the beach by car from mid-March to the end of October. In the high season, these stretches of beach therefore become huge car parks. Nevertheless, there is always enough room for a spot of driving fun on sand. It’s hard to imagine more beach feeling than in the open MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk on the beach at St. Peter-Ording.

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Ka-Chow!